Interview Marathi

Sudarshan Chakrapani’s mysteriousness impressed me in Samantar, says Nitish Bharadwaj

The veteran actor is pitted against Swwapnil Joshi's character in his first web-series.

Keyur Seta

Nitish Bharadwaj, best known for playing Krishna in BR Chopra's classic television series Mahabharat (1988), has made his web-series debut with Satish Rajwade’s Samantar.

Bharadwaj's character Sudarshan Chakrapani is pitted against Kumar Mahajan, played by Swwapnil Joshi. The character adds mystery to the story as Mahajan sets out in search of him to learn about his own future.

“I liked the mysteriousness of Chakrapani’s character,” said Bharadwaj in an exclusive conversation with “Many of us are always curious about the future and Chakrapani plays on this curiosity and adds to the mystery. The look my director Satish had thought of was also a new one for me.”

Interestingly, both Bharadwaj and Joshi have played Krishna on television early on in their careers. Joshi played the younger version of the god in Ramanand Sagar’s teleserial Shri Krishna (1993).

Nitish Bharadwaj in Samantar

Samantar is the first time both actors are working together. Asked about the experience, Bharadwaj said, “It was nice. He is a well-brought-up, respectful man besides being a good actor. Being a nice and straightforward human being is important to me.”

Though Samantar is a web-series, it did not feel like one for Bharadwaj. “Satish has shot it like a film, taking his time with detailing," the actor said. "I am told this doesn’t happen in today’s TV soaps. Satish allowed me to develop the character’s mystery and use my eyes well to create mystery. The DoP [director of photography] Prasad Bhende lit up each shot so beautifully, to add to the genre of mystery.”

In Samantar I have done everything I haven’t done before, says Swwapnil Joshi

Bharadwaj’s name in the series, Sudarshan Chakrapani, also reminds us of Krishna as the Sudarshan chakra is his prime weapon. Was this the reason why Bharadwaj was given this name? “I think it was deliberate,” said the actor. “And it seems to have worked.”

Despite an incredible performance as Krishna in Mahabharat, Bharadwaj insists his contribution wasn’t much. “It is 75% due to Dr Rahi Masoom Raza’s dialogues, [BR] Chopraji’s vision & Raviji’s [Ravi Chopra's] execution of that vision. Our credit as actors is just 25%. I am yet to see a serial written that well. All this created a huge impact on the audience which is why we are respected even after 30 years,” he said.

With director Satish Rajwade during the making of Samantar

Bharadwaj added that the Mahabharat team never imagined it was creating history when it started shooting for the mythological teleserial. “I don’t know of the others, but I believe in giving of my best and leaving the result to god. That’s all a man can do,” he said.

During an earlier conversation with, Arun Govil, who had played Ram in Ramanand Sagar’s teleserial Ramayan (1987), had said people started worshipping him in real life as though he were a god. Bharadwaj, too, had similar experiences. “Obviously, it feels good,” he said. “But I constantly remind myself that their reverence is for Krishna and not for me as an actor. I learnt to respect those people’s humility and tried to imbibe the same... I still do.”

But the actor is clear that he does not wish to be remembered just for a single role. He made his debut as a director with the Marathi film Pitruroon (2013) in which Sachin Khedekar played a double role. “I would like to look ahead and pursue my own vision of my career. If I were to remain happy with this single landmark, I would stink like a stagnant pond,” Bharadwaj said.

Interestingly, Bharadwaj went on to play Vishnu, Ram and Krishna in the TV series Vishnu Puran (2003). He has also appeared in recent Hindi films like Mohenjo Daro (2016) and Kedarnath (2018).

“The project must be different and not run-of-the-mill,” he said when asked how he chooses his work. “The character should allow me to show a new acting process inside me. I love to constantly challenge myself as an actor-director-writer. Unless this samudra manthan [churning] happens within, new and precious jewels of performances cannot be brought out. Sameness is boring.”

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