Sadashiv Amrapurkar’s ‘menacing Maharani’ was seen as ‘gross, downmarket’ at the time: ‘The minute we saw him in a sari…’

Actor Sadashiv Amrapurkar devoted his life to Marathi theatre and in the many years that he served his art, he played many memorable characters. But Amrapurkar came to mainstream spotlight when he played the role of Maharani in Mahesh Bhatt’s 1991 film Sadak.

Maharani was written as a eunuch, who is a pimp by profession and as per Mahesh Bhatt the “character was referred to as ‘gross’ and ‘downmarket’ by many at that time.” In an obituary written for India Today upon the actor’s passing in 2014, Bhatt shared that the character “came to life because of Sadashiv’s conviction.”

The director shared, “He was an enigmatic person who touched the raw chord of the nation with his inspiring characterisation of sari-clad menacing Maharani.” Bhatt further said that time was the biggest critic and how film lovers have still kept Maharani alive. “Sadashiv was a people’s man and an extremely evolved and versatile actor who knew exactly how to capture the emotions of a character,” he said.

sadak Sadashiv Amrapurkar received the first ever Filmfare award of Best Actor in a Negative for Sadak.

Sadashiv got his first shot at the movies in Govind Nihalani’s Ardh Satya where he played the negative role and this was the performance that drew Bhatt to the actor. “When I narrated him the story of Sadak, he showed child-like excitement to play the role. The minute we saw him in a sari, looking perfectly in character as a eunuch, we knew that the character was going to be dramatic,” he recalled.

Talking about the chameleon-like ability of the actor, he said, “His voice, language and mannerisms had a distinct earthiness, which helped him play some of the so-called ‘crass’ and ‘crude’ roles on-screen with confidence.”

Apart from Sadak and Ardh Satya, Sadashiv is remembered for appearing in films like Aankhen, Mohra, Coolie No 1, Ishq. His last film appearance was in Bombay Talkies, where he played a significant role in Dibakar Banerjee’s short Star. Sadashiv passed away on November 3, 2014 at the age of 64.

Indianshri

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