How Priyanka Chopra, Rajesh Mapuskar coaxed Gowariker to return to acting

Ashutosh Gowariker revealed the funny incidents that led to his casting in the Marathi movie, Ventilator.

Picture: Shutterbugs Images

Keyur Seta

Ashutosh Gowariker is known for his directorial ventures like Lagaan – Once Upon A Time In India (2001), Swades (2004) and Jodhaa Akbar (2008). But there was a time when he took his acting seriously. His work is notable in films like Holi (1984), Naam (1986), Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro (1989), and Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1993), among others. 

Gowariker put acting on the back seat after he became a full-time director. He last acted in the Marathi film Sarkarnama in 1998. But now, he is all set to return as an actor with Ventilator, a Marathi film produced by Priyanka Chopra and her mother Madhu Chopra.

During the trailer launch of the film, Gowariker revealed that his return to acting happened by chance and he was not keen to take up the role. In fact, when director Rajesh Mapuskar approached him for the film, Gowariker thought he wanted him to produce it. “I asked him, ‘You want me to produce?’ He said, ‘No no no, you have to act in it. I said, ‘Are you mad? I am in Bhuj shooting Mohenjo Daro for six months. I don’t think I can come back to acting right now. Take somebody else’,” he said. 

Gowariker was sure Mapuskar would cast someone else, but the director approached him again after six months. To make him realise that he is not the right choice, Gowariker asked him to do an audition. “I thought if he auditions me he will realise his mistake. I thought he would even thank me saying he had been saved,” he said.

However, Mapuskar said he did not want him to audition as he was sure how he would perform. Finally, Gowariker said he would think about it. 

Later, when Priyanka Chopra came on board, Gowariker was sure she would never want to cast him. Funnily, she too called up and urged him to do the role. “I just found myself saying yes,” revealed the Lagaan maker. 

He added, “Somewhere I felt I always wanted to do a Marathi film. I have never directed a Marathi film as I have never found a script. I thought this is a good way of coming back into Marathi cinema.” 

Ventilator stars Sulabha Arya, Sukanya Kulkarni, Jayant Gadekar, Nikhil Ratnaparkhi and a host of other actors. The film is scheduled for release on 4 November 2016.