Bhagwan Dada accidentally entered the film industry: Mangesh Desai lets out a secret about the acting legend

Mangesh Desai speaks to Cinestaan about the late Bhagwan Dada's accidental entry into the film world.

Keyur Seta

Yesteryear actor Bhagwan aka Bhagwan Dada was known as India’s first dancing actor, along with being a director. His film Albela (1951) continues to enchant lovers of the classic era. But few know that his entry into cinema was accidental. 

This was revealed to us recently by actor Mangesh Desai, who plays the late artiste in the Marathi biopic, Ekk Albela. “There was this boy named Bhagwan Abhaji Palav, who had no connection with the film industry. He was more interested in wrestling. One day, he accidentally entered a film studio and became part of the film industry. How this boy one day became Bhagwan Dada is hardly known,” he said.

Naturally, the film focuses on his most popular film, Albela (1951). “He faced a lot of obstacles while making that film," said Desai. "People from his own field tried to boycott him and didn’t help him out. Despite that, he completed the film and it became a super-hit. I feel the way his character is portrayed in the film is very inspirational.”

The actor is cast opposite Hindi film star Vidya Balan. Desai admits he was worried by the Kahaani (2012) actress's star status. “I was worried initially thinking she is a Hindi superstar and I am just a Marathi actor. I used to wonder whether I would be able to point it out to her if I didn’t like something she did.” 

But Desai was pleasantly surprised to see no starry airs from Vidya. “I realised she is a star because she is down-to-earth. She remembers everyone she meets. I got to learn a lot from her. She is extremely patient. Her first day of shoot ended at 2:30am after she readily agreed to reshoot a scene at 11:30pm.”
Directed by Shekhar Sartandel and produced under the banner of Kimaya Motion Pictures, Ekk Albela will be released on 24 June 2016.