Fighting Big B on Screen to Beating Coronavirus, Meet Dan Dhanoa

In a conversation with actor-turned-sailor, Captain Dhanoa spoke on battling coronavirus & life in Bollywood.

Published02 May 2020, 09:13 AM IST
Bollywood
4 min read

Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui

Former actor-turned-sailor, Captain Dan Dhanoa, recently defeated the deadly coronavirus, all alone, miles away from his home and family, in a foreign land.  Many of you may not recognise him as a Captain in the Indian Navy, but as a super villain from the 80s and the 90s who has fought some of the biggest superstars like Amitabh Bachchan in Mard and Vinod Khanna in Naqaab.

From his hotel in Brazil, where he continues to wait for the flight operations to resume, Captain Dhanoa spoke to The Quint about his experience as a coronavirus survivor and his journey in Bollywood.

Fighting Big B on Screen to Beating Coronavirus, Meet Dan Dhanoa
Photo: (Captain Dan Dhanoa’s album)

Coronavirus: A Silent Killer...

"I was off the coast of Brazil, this was the time before the clampdown came in. There were a few vendors who happened to come on board for some services and one of them must've been an asymptomatic carrier of the coronavirus," said Dhanoa on how he must've contracted the disease.

He further mentioned that for the next 16 days he saw no symptoms except a headache which he assumed could be his sinus playing up, but when he started losing his appetite too, he was evacuated from the ship by a chopper. At the hospital, after a few tests and a CT scan, the actor found out that his lungs have been compromised which assured the doctors that he had contracted the virus.

The sailor urged that to fight the disease one needs to be pro active and should keep testing his/her temperature and oxygen levels using a pulse oximeter.

Wrote Letters to My Wife

“My  wife (actor Nandita Puri)  was my rock of Gibraltar,” said Capt Dan Dhanoa.
“My  wife (actor Nandita Puri) was my rock of Gibraltar,” said Capt Dan Dhanoa.
Photo: Dan Dhanoa’s album

The mariner mentioned that he did not want his mother and other family members to panic and avoided informing them till he recovered. His wife Nandita Puri, a television actress and a renowned Kathak dancer, was the only one who knew about the sailor’s health till he was shifted to the general ward from the ICU.

“I wrote letters to my wife and asked the nurses to send them to her on WhatsApp. She was the only one who knew and went through a much worse situation. She was my rock of Gibraltar.”
Dan Dhanoa

‘Calm Down’: Dhanoa to Panic-Stricken Seafarers

On being asked what he had to say about the seafarers who reportedly considered self-harm due to the stress caused by restrictions on crew exchange, the former actor said, “we were different kind of seafarers, I guess, we sailed for a year and spoke to our parents maybe once in six months.” He did mention that things could go wrong for people in times like these, but requested them to ‘hang on for a while and stay calm’.

Journey from Modeling to Bollywood

Being jobless, the actor who mostly played cult villainous roles in his films, decided to start off his career as a model. One of his most famous advertisement campaigns was with Elpar Suitings, a take off from Malboro man.

Dhanoa’s first modeling campaign was with Elpar Suitings, a take off from Malboro Man.
Dhanoa’s first modeling campaign was with Elpar Suitings, a take off from Malboro Man.
Photo: (Dan Dhanoa’s album)

In 1983, Dhanoa happened to go for the silver jubilee party of Qurbani, where he was spotted by Feroz Khan who offered him to act in his next film. The actor was trained by him for an year, but the project got shelved due to some unfortunate reason that the actor chose not to reveal.

However, it was only until Mard came along that he got his big break and extended his stake in Bollywood as one of the most renowned villains of his times in the industry. Dan also described how he was taken by surprise when Amitabh Bachchan walked towards him and introduced himself on his first day of shoot. He also appreciated senior Bachchan for letting him do what came naturally to him while he was still an amateur.

Dan Dhanoa with Amitabh Bachchan on the sets of ‘Mard’.
Dan Dhanoa with Amitabh Bachchan on the sets of ‘Mard’.
Photo: (Dan Dhanoa’s album)

‘No Regrets’: Dan on Quitting Cinema

The Doon School alumnus further added that he felt that the roles weren’t challenging enough; he got fed up doing the same kind of roles in over 40 films and wanted to return to his job in the navy.

Dan Dhanoa, shared a photo from the eighties with veteran actor, Rishi Kapoor.
Dan Dhanoa, shared a photo from the eighties with veteran actor, Rishi Kapoor.
Photo: (Dan Dhanoa’s album)
“I had come from a different background and didn’t know the ways of the industry. It was a good time and I have no regrets.”
Captain Dan Dhanoa

Return to Films After 29 Years

“I have recently shot for a Tamil film. I’ve played Vijay Mallya in it... Suriya is the hero. It’s a big, big film.”
Dan Dhanoa

The Captain also revealed that he’ll be on screen again after 29 years in a Tamilian film which has got delayed due to the lockdown in the country.

Liked this story? We'll send you more. Subscribe to The Quint's newsletter and get selected stories delivered to your inbox every day. Click to get started.

The Quint is available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, click to join.

Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!