PUNE: The generation that has not seen Vikram Gokhale on stage, got a glimpse of how passionately the prolific actor stands up for the cause he believes in. Gokhale, who was felicitated with the ‘PIFF Distinguished Award’ at 18th Pune International Film Festival, spoke with his trademark candour and devil-may-care attitude on politics, arts and censorship.
Expressing his gratitude for receiving the award dedicated to Dr Shreeram Lagoo, Gokhale said, “This award is extra special because it is dedicated to Dr Lagoo. He was a great actor and someone I looked up to. I treasure the compliment that he gave me after watching my performance in ‘Vahato Durvanchi Judi.’ Actually, he did not say it on my face, but I heard it from Shanta Jog. He said, ‘That boy (Gokhale) is different from the rest of the group because he is the only one who is not acting’. I also had some intense discussions with Dr Lagoo on his work, the choices he made. He respected my feedback.”
When asked to respond on censorship and boycott of films and web series, the actor said, “I don’t believe in private censorship. We should not give in to those forces who demand to see the movie before it is released or call for its boycott. The web series, at the moment, don’t have censorship, which is good. But, they should not take undue advantage of this fact.”
Gokhale, who is known for his work in Marathi films like ‘Mukta’ and ‘Kalat Nakalat’ went on to add that actors are essentially insecure people and therefore, they find it difficult to come together on issues that concern them. However, he excluded himself from the list and responded with great vigour and candidness when asked about his views on the recent controversies around Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and the ongoing exchange of words over a book by BJP leader Bhagwan Goyal comparing Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
“I am a follower of Savarkar. I have read his literature in entirety. Those who have not understood Savarkar or do not want to make an effort, keep stoking the fires of Brahminism and anti-Brahminism issue. I don’t care about the views of Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi. They have not read his works. My sincere request to people is that don’t deify Savarkar or Mahatma Gandhi. Please try and understand the times that they lived and worked in. They were human beings and human beings are fallible, they make mistakes,” he said.
He added, “If you look at history rationally, you will understand the thought process of BR Ambedkar and Savarkar. Savarkar apologised to the British so that he could be released and he could again start working to free the country from their shackles.”
On the war of words over the comparison of Prime Minister Modi with the Maratha king, the veteran actor said, “I don’t think we should be comparing anyone with Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. It is sad if this comparison is being made. I am not completely aware of what has transpired, what is the book all about and who made what comment. I don’t know if Sharad Pawar has actually said that he is ‘Janata Raja’. I doubt if he would ever say something like this. He is one of the few visionary national leaders that we have.”