Exclusive! Makarand Deshpande: Despite being from theatre, I have never felt like an outsider in Bollywood

Makarand Deshpande is a name in Bollywood that resonates with millions of fans across the country. He is known for his eccentric personality and power-packed performances in films like, ‘Satya’, ‘Makdee’, ‘Swades’, ‘Sadak 2’ and many others.

In an exclusive interview with ETimes, Makarand Deshpande opened up about his two-decades-long career in Bollywood, his films, and his journey so far. Excerpts…

From being part of the TV show ‘Circus’ in 1989 to your last Bollywood film, ‘Sadak 2’ – how has your journey been so far?

I have been lucky because despite spending most of my time in the theatres, people still call me and give me work. This makes me feel like I am doing something right. I used to tell filmmakers to give me small roles and not bigger ones. They never felt that I am out of the industry.

Mahesh Bhatt gave me a role in ‘Sadak 2’, Ashutosh Gowariker took me in ‘Swades’ and Ram Gopal Varma calls me even today. I even get calls from the South industry for films. I am really glad to be part of this industry where I have time for myself, for my plays and I still get to be part of interesting films, and OTT series. I am all over the place. It has just been wonderful.

Have you ever been made to feel like an outsider in the industry?

I have never faced any such thing in Bollywood. I have not been somebody who wanted to take over somebody else’s place. I am just interested in my work. The industry needs people who know their craft well. I feel that sometimes people interpret each other in the wrong manner. And that will happen because there is so much at stake. Producers invest so much money in you. There will be ups and downs. It all boils down to how you handle yourself.

During our time, we never had problems with each other’s religion or social status. We had respect for senior actors but they never demeaned us. They have been polite and cordial. I shared screen space with Amitabh Bachchan. He came to me on the set, hugged me, and told me that he has seen my work. He appreciates the work that I do. Not only him, Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, or any other big actor that I have worked with, they have all been very cordial towards me.

The Indian film industry is a wonderful place to be. I have never felt like an outsider. I believe that if you are true to your art, work hard, and mind your own business, no one will create problems for you. Nobody says ‘Makarand is doing a good job so don’t cast him’. If you are good, there is no reason you will not get opportunities.

You have played some very iconic roles in films – be it ‘Kallu’ from ‘Makdee’ or ‘Shiva’ in ‘Sarfarosh’ or Gyaan Prakash’ in Sadak 2’ – Which one is closest to your heart?

I think I enjoyed doing ‘Satya’ and the song in ‘Swades’. I even loved working with Mahesh Bhatt. Although some of my scenes in the film got chopped off, the experience of working with Bhatt Sahab is super. He is an amazing person and a director.

As far as Marathi is concerned, I enjoyed shooting for ‘Dagdi Chawl’. I enjoyed playing Arun Gawli aka ‘Daddy’. I was on cloud nine when I heard that he loved my performance. We are making part two and there are special instructions from him that only I should be playing his role. It feels amazing when the person whose character you are playing, appreciates you.

How old were you when the acting bug bit you?

I participated in a play when I was a kid but I was too young to realise it at that time. In my family, my sister and my brother were actors but I was never into acting. I was a sportsperson at heart. When I used to play cricket, I once realised that one day I will have to retire from this game at a certain age and I did not like the thought. I am of the view that you should not do something you will have to quit doing at some point.

Once in my college, I heard some students shouting in a room. Curiously, I went to see what the noise was all about and realised that they were rehearsing for a play. I loved it. My brother’s friend Milind Ingle said that they needed actors so I joined the team. Because I was physically fit and had a fairly good voice, the director loved my performance. I started enjoying it. I would say that I entered my college as a sportsman but I passed out as an actor.