Satish Kaushik: “I Have Salman To Thank …Lived With Lal Bihari For 17 Years”

It was  when veteran actor-director Satish Kaushik was  travelling with Salman Khan that things fell into place for Satish’s dream project.

Recounts Satish, “I  got to know  about Lal Bihari Mritak who was declared dead  by the government and who spent  18 years  fighting to prove he was alive,in 2003. At that time no one wanted  to back the project. Then  I was travelling with Salman to Malta to  shoot for Ali Abbas Zafar’s Bharat when I told him about Kaagaz, then called Lal Bihari Mritak. Salman  loved  it!  I suggested that he  become the  presenter  of the  film. Everything fell  in place after that. Salmanand  I  go back a long way. Many consider my Tere Naam to be  his best  . I  wouldn’t want to  disagree with that.”

 Satish was very clear about the choice of actor to play Lal Bihari/Bharat Lal. “It couldn’t be a  star.This character  had to be played  by an actor with a connect to  the grassroot.When I  signed Pankaj  Tripathi he was  not the  star he has  now become.Mirzapur and Criminal Justice were  not  out yet. Today I see his presence  on  top of Salman’s  backing as  the  two USPs of  the marketing of Kaagaz.”

Kaagaz was  completed  in 2018. “We were then  struggling to  find buyers. When Salman  came on board we got stuck  because of  Covid. All the post-production was done  during the lockdown.We are now in the midst of an  unknown crisis,and work  almost ended.I stepped  out  for  Kaagaz. It’s a risk  worth taking.”

Satish sees Kaagaz as his return to  form as a  filmmaker and actor. “For some time now I was being shunned by  the  film industry. They thought I  was  too old now and  useless.I think I’ve more than  proved myself as an actor and  as a director .”

Has  the real Lal Bihari seen the  film? “Yes, he  has. I showed  it to him. Unfortunately  the impossible  hardships  that he has  gone through in  life have embittered him. He’s always in a negative zone, always  criticizing everything. He has stopped seeing the beauty in Nature and life. His son  worked as  an assistant  director  in  Kaagaz. Hopefully  after the  film’s release LalBihari would have something to finally smile  about.”

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