Article Marathi

Ramesh Bhatkar should have been a hero in today’s times: Varsha Usgaonkar

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The actress remembered the actor fondly at a prayer meet held last evening in Mumbai. 

Keyur Seta

Well-known film, television and stage actor Ramesh Bhatkar breathed his last on 4 February. He died due to cancer. A number of artistes from the Marathi film, television and theatre industry attended a prayer meet held yesterday in Mumbai.

Bhatkar was a co-star of the well-known actress of the 1990s Varsha Usgaonkar. She got nostalgic thinking about her one time co-star and friend. “He was a large-hearted person. If he wanted to praise someone, he would do it openly. He would do that for me too. This artiste was an audience at heart. If he liked my dance on a TV show or my performance in a film, he would straightaway call me,” she said.

Ramesh Bhatkar (August 1949 – 4 February 2019): Indian television's original star cop

Usgaonkar believes that his tough persona was like a Mills and Boons hero, which was ahead of its time. “I feel Marathi cinema didn’t need a hero like him in the era he emerged. If he had become a hero in today’s times, his career would have gone onto another level. His career is surely large. But still as a fan and well-wisher I feel this,” she said.

Bhatkar starred in over 100 films, 30 TV shows and around 55 plays. His last appearance was in the recently released Hindi movie The Accidental Prime Minister (2019), where he played the role of the former chief minister of Maharashtra Prithviraj Chavan.

Usgonkar recalled their film Paisa Paisa Paisa (1993) where Bhatkar had an interesting character of a villain who is actually the hero of the film. She believes the act didn’t get its due. “He performed his character brilliantly. I feel that year he should have received the best actor award. Unfortunately, the film didn’t do that well and his character didn’t reach more people. If it had, it would have been great.”

One of Bhatkar’s most popular films was Maherchi Saadi (1991), which also had an ensemble cast of Alka Kubal, Vikram Gokhale, Vijay Chavan, Ajinkya Deo, Kishori Shahane and others. Vijay Kondke, the director of the film who made his debut with this one, also spoke at the prayer meet and recalled the experience of shooting the film.

“My first ever film had such big names but people like Ramesh and Vikram [Gokhale] ensured that I was at ease. It was very tough to shoot my first film with so many actors. Ramesh has a big role in the film’s success. He was always cheerful. I have never seen him being serious,” he said.

The prayer meet was also attended by the likes of Viju Khote, Shubha Khote and Dr Amol Kolhe.