Interview Hindi

I will never compare my act as Thackeray with Nawazuddin’s portrayal, says Sarang Sathaye

Sarang Sathaye is also playing the Shiv Sena supremo in Pu La Deshpande's biopic Bhaai: Vyakti Kee Valli.

Keyur Seta

Nawazuddin Siddiqui isn’t the only one to play the role of Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray in recent times. Sarang Sathaye will play the late enigmatic political leader in director Mahesh Manjrekar’s Bhaai: Vyakti Kee Valli, the biopic on Purushottam Laxman Deshpande aka Pu La Deshpande.

There was a glimpse of Balasaheb in the first part of Bhaai: Vyakti Kee Valli released on 4 January. The second part of the film, which will be out on 8 February, will have more screen time for Thackeray's character.

In an exclusive chat with us, Sathaye said that he never imagined that he would play the character of Thackeray. “Few people have said before that I look like I belong to someone from the Thackeray family, but that was only because of my spectacles. I used to wear big spectacles and people from their family also do that,” he said.

When Manjrekar called Sathaye for a meeting, he didn’t reveal what role he was offering him. He placed a few pictures of Balasaheb Thackeray in front of him. “I was sure that was not for me,” laughed Sathaye. “But he suddenly started taking the measurement of my face for make-up. This is how I came to know.”

Sathaye has been keeping a beard since he was 23. But he had to shave it off for his role in Akarsh Khurana’s Hindi film High Jack (2018). He kept a moustache then. “You yourself forget how you look without beard. I don’t know when Mahesh dada saw me [in that look] and he found it similar [to Balasaheb's]. My face does not quite match his. But my hand and body movements do," he said.

Balasaheb was an ardent fan of Deshpande and shared a healthy friendship with him, despite some tensions between the two when PL criticized the former’s government in the 1990s.

As far as his performance is concerned, Sathaye was sure he would never wanted to mimic Balalsaheb Thackeray. “Just like Sagar [Deshmukh] didn’t mimic Pu La,” he said. He realized one habit of the late politician and tried to imbibe it in his performance. “When I met people close to him, I came to know that people couldn’t understand at times whether he was being serious or sarcastic with someone. Somehow I tried to replicate this for my performance. I had a chance of doing that in one scene,” he said.

He also took home Balasaheb Thackeray’s habits of using his handkerchief in a certain way after watching his old interview, titled 24 Hours With Balasaheb Thackeray nearly 20-25 times.

Sathaye is aware how careful one must be while playing a character that is worshipped by many. “In Maharashtra we need to be lot more careful for doing something on behalf of people like Shivaji Maharaj, Balasaheb Thackeray, Pu La Deshpande and Yashvantrao Chavan. So, there is some tension as to how will people find it. But I have worked hard as much as possible from my side,” he said.

It is obvious that Sathaye was asked as whether he thinks about being compared with Siddiqui's version of Balasaheb in Thackeray (2019). Although he agrees that there will be comparisons, he believes that both the versions are different. “It is a different matter to do an entire film on him and to play him in just three scenes. Although right now I do feel that it would have been great if I had got the opportunity [to star in Thackeray]. But I will never compare myself,” he said.