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Exclusive: 1990s screen villain Mahesh Anand back after 18 years, signs up for Pahlaj Nihalani’s Rangeela Raja

The actor, known for portraying negative characters, has been going through financial adversity for a long time.

Mahesh Anand, then and now

Keyur Seta

Mahesh Anand was a known face in mainstream Hindi cinema in the late 1980s through the 1990s. He specialized in playing the baddie's henchman in films like Shahenshah (1988), Majboor (1989), Swarg (1990), Thanedaar (1990), Vishwatma (1992), Gumrah (1993), Khuddar (1994), Betaaj Badshah (1994), Vijeta (1996) and Kurukshetra (2000).

However, thereafter Anand was mostly out of work. In fact, in a conversation with Cinestaan.com, he revealed that he did not have a film for as many as 18 years and made a living for a while by taking part in wrestling matches with the stage name 'Lion Gypsy Man'.

But yesterday, out of the blue, he got a call from producer Pahlaj Nihalani who offered him a role in his upcoming Rangeela Raja, which stars Govinda and is being directed by Sikander Bharti, who is also making a comeback to Hindi cinema after 20 years.

Expressing gratitude to Nihalani, Mahesh Anand said, “Nobody signed me for 18 years. But god came in the form of a human being and offered me a small role. It’s a stepping stone back into the industry. Actually it has not hit me till now because for 18 years I have lived alone, with no work and no money. I had done Andaz (1994) and Aag Ka Gola (1989) with Pahlajji.” 

Asked how he got the part, he said, “Suddenly yesterday I got a message on WhatsApp [from Nihalani] saying, ‘Call me.’ I called up and Pahlajji said, ‘Beta, kitte baje aaoge office [Son, when can you come to my office]?' I didn’t even have money for the autorickshaw fare. I have been going through a very bad financial crisis. I am being very honest about it.”

Speaking about his meeting with Nihalani, Anand said, “Pahlajji said, ‘The movie is almost complete. But there is a six-minute role for you. You have to take care of it.’

"I instantly said yes. I told him whether it is a six-minute or a one-minute role, you remembering me is a big thing for me. I didn’t even ask about the role. I have worked with some big people, but nobody remembered me. Pahlajji gave me a rebirth.”

Anand was known for his screen presence as a negative character. “I think I look better at 57 than I did at 22,” he remarked, adding happily, "The Lion Gypsy Man is back!"

When contacted by Cinestaan.com, Pahlaj Nihalani said, “He [Mahesh Anand] has worked with me in quite a few films. I didn’t have his number. I told him he should work. He said yes, he will work. He wasn’t around for so long, so people don’t remember you. People should know him and he should be seen more. He is one of my favourites. Ghar ki hi baat hai [He is like a family member].”