He could easily flit between playing the crooked Rama Shetty in Ardh Satya (1983) to the macabre Maharani in Sadak (1991) and a number of asinine walk-in characters in David Dhawan’s comedies and other C-grade potboilers. That was the remarkable versatility that the late Sadashiv Amarpurkar had at his command. The actor passed away in November 2014 due to a lung inflammation.
Though popular in Marathi films, towards the end of his career, Amrapurkar was increasingly in danger of being slowly erased from the collective memory of the Hindi movie-going audience. But in a poetic justice of sorts, Sadashiv Amrapurkar sparkled again with a cameo in Dibakar Banerjee’s short film titled Star, which was part of the anthology film Bombay Talkies (2013).
According to an interview in Ndtv.com, Dibakar says he had to pursue Amrapurkar to come on board for his film in Bombay Talkies.
At that time Sadashivji was very busy in Marathi theatre and his social activism. But I was adamant. The character was that of a doyen of Marathi theatre. Sadashivji fitted the bill. If I had made the film 20 years ago, I would have thought of Nilu Phuleji. Now it had to be none except Sadhashivji. I convinced him to do the role.Dibakar Banerjee
The filmmaker adds that once convinced Amrapurkar was totally consumed by the small role and made it his own.
“One day I was sitting with him discussing his character when he began chatting about his experiences in theatre, about how friends who once gave up theatre because it was not lucrative now wanted his help to come back to stage,” says Dibakar and adds, “From that point onwards he took over the character. All the years of his experience in Marathi theatre and his personal interaction with colleagues who chose to go into other professions were used in the film.”
Dibakar’s short also starring Nawazuddin Siddique was an adaptation of Satyajit Ray’s short story Patol Babu, Film Star. In the film, Amrapurkar appears as a hallucination to Siddique’s character of a struggling actor.
“He not only dug into his own consciousness to create the character’s inner life, he went into classics of Marathi theatre to give his character an edge beyond what I had imagined. When we started shooting Sadashivji was all there. He would come fully prepared,” says Dibakar.
It was only befitting that the talented actor’s swan song was a film to celebrate 100 years of Indian cinema.
(This story is from The Quint’s archives and was first published on 11 May 2016. It is being republished to mark Sadashiv Amrapurkar’s birth anniversary.)