METHOD MAN IN HIS LABYRINTH

By: Sapna Nair-Purohit             Photo Credit: Manoj Patil             Dated: June 01, 2014

Meet Vishwa Mohan Badola, a well-known name in the theatre circuit. Badola was the Grandpa on the Indian side of the India-Pakistan border in the Google Reunion ad. Creative Brands met the 77-year-old actor who was also once a singer and a journalist.

method_man

Vishwa Mohan Badola calls himself a ‘cantankerous buddha’ (old man) and is not really overwhelmed by all the adulation coming his way for the ad that was touted as the most trending ad of 2013 and the most heart-warming too. Badola has had a chequered career. Armed with an English Honours from Delhi University, he set out to do music and theatre. Soon a severe bronchial infection led him to look for an alternative medium of expression and source of livelihood. He wound up in journalism.

Badola joined The Patriot and then The Indian Express in 1965 and at 31 became the youngest Chief Sub-Editor in the Delhi newspaper industry. He went on to work with Ananda Bazaar Patrika, Hindustan Times, Deccan Herald, The Times of India, and Pioneer in various capacities such as Special Correspondent, Bureau Chief, and News Coordinator. He recalls the time he was sent to Kathmandu when democracy was being ushered in there. “It was a tumultuous time in Nepal’s history.”

However, Badola chose to be actively involved in theatre, taking out time for rehearsals and shows. His was once a name to reckon with in the Delhi theatre scene. After quitting Pioneer in 1994, “whiled away time doing nothing”, he recalls. “But I have never gone asking for a job or a role,” he says, rather firmly.

" I didn’t have to do much except bring out the emotions. The ad was successful because of the concept, the way it was handled by the director (Amit Sharma), and the way it was shot. "

In 2003, he got a call from director Ashutosh Gowariker who offered him a role in 'Swades'. That marked his move from theatre to cinema. He soon did movies such as 'Lage Raho Munnabhai', 'Jodha Akbar' and 'What’s Your Rashee?', among others. His latest is a comedy titled 'Total Siyapaa', in which he plays a blind Army man (the heroine’s grandfather).

Interestingly, his first ever TV ad was for LML Vespa in the 1980s. All he remembers is riding the bike around Connaught Place for the shoot. Nearly 33 years later came the Google Reunion ad!

Badola had not expected such overwhelming appreciation for the ad, which, he says, was originally supposed to be only five and a half minutes long. "I didn’t have to do much except bring out the emotions. The ad was successful because of the concept, the way it was handled by the director (Amit Sharma), and the way it was shot," he says, matter-of-factly.

" I didn’t have to do much except bring out the emotions. The ad was successful because of the concept, the way it was handled by the director (Amit Sharma), and the way it was shot. "

A script was handed to him on the first day of the six-day shoot. He did add his two bits into essaying the role of Baldev Mehra, such as that of lending the Hindi a distinctly Punjabi flavour. “Fifty years of separation had to be portrayed in my persona,” he says, talking about the scene where he reunites with his childhood friend Yusuf. “The man emerging from the door was a man broken by memory. At first, he can’t recognise his friend and when he does, he only cries,” he says, about that poignant scene.

It took 18 retakes to get the shot right. The fact that he and M. S. Sathyu, the legendary film director, who played Yusuf, are also old friends in real life, however, helped them strike the right emotional chord. They have known each other since their ‘struggling’ days in the 1950s. “I was really happy when I got to know that he was playing the friend,” Badola says, smiling.

Interestingly, even at the dubbing stage, he wasn’t able to comprehend the excitement among the agency folk about the ad. He was blissfully holidaying in Kerala when his daughter showed him the ad on YouTube. “When people said the ad has gone ‘viral’, I thought it was a bad thing,” he says rather humbly.

People walk up to him at airports asking if he is the 'dadaji' from the Google ad. “To tell you frankly, I wasn’t expecting that it would be this successful,” he says about the ad that gave him more popularity than the movies he has done. He has been receiving enquiries from ad agencies and production houses, ever since. “I am not hankering for these things. I don’t want just my face to be there for money. Unless there’s something worthwhile, I won’t take it up,” he says.

CB

OUR MAGAZINE

ADVERTISEMENT

© Copyright 2015. Creative Brands Magazine. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy /  Disclaimer /  Terms & Conditions