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Why Sajjan Lal Purohit was in fear as Betaal – Birth anniversary special

The TV series Vikram Aur Betaal is part of the growing-up memories of many Indians. Arun Govil, who played king Vikram, remembers veteran actor Sajjan, who played Betaal, on his 97th birth anniversary.

Keyur Seta

Vikram Aur Betaal, the televsion series that was aired on Doordarshan in the late 1980s, is still remembered by the generation that was growing up then. Not many may remember, however, that the Betaal was played by yesteryear actor Sajjan Lal Purohit, better known simply as Sajjan.

Sajjan began his career as a child artiste in Indra Sabha (1932). His first film as an adult was Lady Doctor, released in 1944. Thereafter, he acted in more than 100 films. Some of his more famous titles are Rail Ka Dibba (1953), Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958), Jhumroo (1961), Bees Saal Baad (1962) and April Fool (1964).

On Sajjan's 97th birth anniversary (15 January), actor Arun Govil, who played king Vikram in Vikram Aur Betaal, recounted a touching yet funny memory he has of Sajjan from the shooting of the television serial.

Sajjan Lal Purohit

Sajjan was in his late sixties at the time the serial was being shot. Govil was much younger, just about 30. But they had good rapport on and off the sets, Govil said. “I had a very good experience with him," he said. "He definitely was a very good actor."

However, on account of his advancing years, Sajjan, who had to be perched on Govil's back for most of the shoot, was mortally afraid that the younger man would drop him.

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Arun Govil

Sajjan’s fear would have Govil in splits. “The story required him to climb on my back," Govil said. "He had to be that way regularly. But he was terrified that he might fall down. He used to say, ‘Please make sure you don’t let me fall. Gira mat dena mujhe', and I would say, ‘No sir, why will I do that'!"

Thankfully for Sajjan, Govil was as good as his word and did not drop the aged man.