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Putting Haryana on the film map

Satish Kaushik is using his success in Bollywood to boost the prospects of the regional film industry in his home state

Veteran actor-director-producer Satish Kaushik was born in the Nai Walan locality in Delhi’s Karol Bagh. He only had one dream as a child: He wanted to become famous. “I would sit on a charpoy bed and dream about becoming famous. I wanted to see my name in the newspaper as it used to be a big thing in those days,” recollects Kaushik.

Hailing from a poor family, he considers himself fortunate to have actually achieved so much in the film industry. “I have acted in movies, written, directed and produced them; penned down songs, done theatre, television and radio. So, I have done every possible thing in my field. I really see it as a blessing of my parents and loved ones,” says the Mr India actor who is committed to producing films in various Indian regional languages under the banner of his production company Satish Kaushik Entertainment with the aim of promoting young talent. Kaushik’s latest release is a Haryanvi film called Chhoriyan Chhoron Se Kam Nahi Hoti which has been produced in collaboration with Zee Studios.

Directed by Rajesh Babbar, the film stars Rashmi Somvanshi, Aniruddh Dave and Kaushik himself in pivotal roles.  The film tells the story of a Haryanvi girl who fights deep-seated patriarchy to become an IPS officer. Kaushik, who originally belongs to the state of Haryana, endeavours to bolster the Haryanvi film industry which despite producing some memorable films over the last four decades hasn’t managed to establish itself like some of the other regional film industries in India.

Over the last few years Kaushik has been working with the state government to regulate the existing policies in order to attract more film producers to the state. “For years now I have been possessed by an idea to develop the local film industry in Haryana on the lines of Punjabi, Bhojpuri, Bangla and Marathi industries. The Haryanvi industry has produced hit films like Chandrawal, and in the recent times Satrangi and Pagdi have won national awards.

“Then we had Hindi films like Dangal and Sultan which too are essentially set in the backdrop of Haryana only. So, the thought slowly took shape into a strong desire to make films locally in Haryana so that it promotes the local film industry and also generates work for the people there,” reveals the Soorma actor whose belief was boosted by filmmaker Shekhar Kapoor’s remarks about the tremendous potential of regional cinema in taking Indian cinema forward.

Kaushik believes that a lot has changed since he started his career in Hindi cinema during the early 1980s. “Cinema has grown a lot and the expression has also changed greatly. Today filmmakers have become fearless. You can make a film on any subject and the audiences also support it if it’s made in an interesting way. Indian cinema’s reach is now global, thanks to advancements in the satellite and digital space. In our times, we had limited stories to deal with but there is a greater creative freedom today. Just look at the increase in number of biopics and the films made on real events. Even the concocted ones offer very interesting scenarios. So I believe that the younger generation of filmmakers is extremely talented and well equipped to take Indian cinema forward,” asserts the director who has plans of making a sequel to the 2003 film Tere Naam, which starred Salman Khan in the lead role.

“I have the script for Tere Naam 2 with me and I would very much like to make it. Tere Naam was a big film. Salman had done great work in it. It was also the biggest film of my career. But as far as Tere Naam 2 is concerned, there is still some work that needs to be done with the material I have, before we are in a position to take the project forward,” reveals Kaushik.

While Kaushik has no regrets about his life, he feels that had he given more importance to fitness and controlled his eating habits early on in his life — then he would have certainly enjoyed much higher levels of productivity. “These days I eat less and follow a disciplined life. My daughter Vanshika will turn 7 in July. Ever since she was born, I consciously started losing weight so that I can stay fit and healthy. Today I feel that my energy levels have doubled. I wish I had started it earlier, but it is better late than never,” chuckles the Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro actor.

During the course of his four-decade-long career, Kaushik has worked on more than a hundred films. He has also been closely associated with theatre and television. But he hasn’t lost his versatile quality to simultaneously don different hats. “I am currently involved with a lot of projects in different capacities. Other than the production work, I am involved with a lot of films as an actor. I have already finished one that’s also set in Haryana. Then there is my directorial venture called Kaagaz, based on a true story, which is in post-production right now. Also, my radio programme is running successfully on Radio Nasha. Then my new play will open soon. I want to continue doing all kinds of things,” he sums up.