Sweet and Spicy
Chatting up Deven Bhojani and Paresh Ganatra who are coming together on TV for a tussle over ‘Bhakharwadi’. The show premieres tonight
One crunchy snack that is dear to all Punekars is Bhakharwadi. It’s something that would happily and rightfully get the label — ‘Made in Pune’. But what if a Gujju tries to appropriate this snack as theirs, then the battle lines would be drawn. Naturally so!
Bhakharwadi, the new TV serial by Sony SAB, is a comical take on ideological differences between a Marathi and Gujarati family competing with each other in the bhakharwadi business. The serial is going to be special for many reasons, one of which is that Deven Bhojani will be playing the Marathi manoos and Paresh Ganatra will be playing the Gujju bhai. Secondly, it is a joint collaboration with JD Majethia and Aatish Kapadia.
We talk to Deven and Paresh, who will be seen together on the telly screen after a long time, about their characters.
The ever jolly Deven says that bhakharwadi for him is extra special. “For the longest time now, I was directing. But the thought of working again with JD Majethia, Aatish and Paresh was amazing and so I had to take up this role.” He adds that bhakharwadi is more like a comfort food for him and he is very much aware of how possessive Punekars are of it.
“I have been a foodie all my life. And, when it comes to food, people take things very seriously and bhakharwadi is one such snack that people are very sensitive about. It is common to both the Maharashtrian and Gujarati household,” Deven says.
The Sarabhai vs Sarabhai actor is playing the role of Anna in the new show. Anna is a typical Punekar, who is sarcastic, but virtuous and extremely disciplined. “I am playing the role of Balkrishna Gokhale, commonly known as Anna. He runs his family business of a sweet shop called Gokhale Bandhu and their speciality is bhakharwadi. The recipe of this snack is known only to Anna and he is hell-bent on not sharing it with anyone.”
There is an obvious conflict with a Gujarati man, Mahendra Thakkar, played by Paresh. He too runs a sweet shop in the same locality and there is a constant tussle between Anna and Mahendra on whose bhakharwadi is the best and more authentic. However, Deven says, that Anna’s character is different from other screen patriarchs. “Anna is a strong believer in gender equality. He makes sure that all the work in the house is equally distributed amongst family members and women are respected. Every man must think and behave like Anna,” says Deven.
He adds, “And, in this conflict between Anna and Mahendra, a love story will blossom. How Anna is going to react to it is going to be very entertaining. It’s a story meant for all.”
Talking about the ever evolving nature of comedy, the Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar actor, says that people love light-hearted comedy. “Regional comedy is something that sticks around with the audience for a long time. This could be because they relate to the characters,” he says.
When asked why he chose to stay off air for such a long time, Deven says that he came across shows that were very similar, and there was absolutely nothing new in them. “I love taking up challenges and trying my hand at new characters. Now that I have bagged this role, I am going to put in a lot of effort to carry off this character well enough so that people enjoy it,” he adds.
Paresh says that the basic concept of the show is that there is a Marathi family that believes in certain principles and doesn’t want to change according to time. “The Gujarati family, on the other hand, believes in modernisation and progressive thinking. The show is about these two families who have different ideologies,” he says.
Paresh says that people love stereotyping. “Most people have a particular image about certain communities. For example, when it comes to Gujaratis, people often think of them as loud and tacky. Through this serial, we want to break this stereotype because Mahendra is not only calm but he is also modern and classy.”
When asked why did he decide to hop on the wagon, Paresh says that he wouldn’t miss out on this opportunity where he got to work with the masters of comedy. “I have been in the industry for a very long time now and have seen it grow and flourish. When you get a chance to work with such a team it is really satisfying. When you are working with your good friends for several years you tend to learn from each other and work hard together,” he adds.
Talking about the similarities that he shares with the characters that he plays, Paresh says that just like his character Mahendra on the show, he is a family-oriented guy, who loves spending time with his close ones. He also adds that the audience is going to love the show because of its concept, characters, humour, the drama as well as the newness of it.