Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Ranjeet Bedi: The Bollywood Baddie who pulls the rug from under stars’ feet

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Mail News Service

Jamshedpur, Oct 18: Young and not so young girls run for cover when they see the almost eternal Bad Man of Bollywood; parents and guardians become excessively alert when they catch sight of a tall, smartly built man ambling along some suburban pathway. Some reputations become the hallmark of performances on screen, camouflaging the actual good-man trait of an individual for whom home is the real place where the strong familial bond of love, care and affection prevails, a monastery where one feels the abstract joy of divinity prevailing like the mild yet soothing whiff of English Lavender. Even the ‘Bad, Evil Spirit’ who rapes and kills at the drop of a hat is a human being who has a life beyond the film lights and loves to be treated as a good friend, always with a kind or soothing word; as a witty and well-meaning soul who has otherwise lived more than 200 characters in as many films and never repeated mannerisms, dialogue-delivery styles but continued to create fear and hate with which he walked straight into the hearts of audiences; he is none other than the inimitable actor who continues to create fearsome beasts in human garb — Ranjit, a legendary Bad Man with a heart of pure gold. Describing the man would take years and pages and yet remain unending, inconclusive.

Born on September 13, 1942 in Jandiala Guru near Amritsar, Gopal Bedi ventured into the wilds of celluloid dreams to make it big in the glittering tinsel town of Bombay (now Mumbai). Gopal was bereft of experience but loaded with confidence and the will to make it big. Beginning with passing shot appearances, then as a character actor in not exactly significant roles, Gopal did catch the eyes of directors with a third eye and came into reckoning as a natural actor learning and improving with every essay. It was then that Gopal Bedi assumed the name of Ranjeet, a suave, good looking and well built actor who imprinted his stamp of authority as he marched along the challenging path to stardom. His portrayals stole the hearts of his costars with his brilliantly natural performances and soon became the most loved and most wanted Bad Man who added new dimensions to villainy while ensuring that no character or mannerism was repeated in his 200 plus films. His performances have been such that he has been able to pull the rug from right under the feet of high-profile stars sharing the same screen space. “No character is small or big. Every character is a link to the ultimate chain of a story. I have never said ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to any proposed project by the length of a role. Instead, I have burnt a lot of midnight oil to convince myself that I will be able to do justice to the character without ever repeating my performance,” mused Ranjit and continued, “I have never had formal training. I learned the tricks of bread and butter winning traits by watching other performers and continuing to learn from them. Yes, I have been extremely lucky to have acted with super stars and evaluating why they performed their roles as they did. My costars were always ready to help. In fact, every venture, every film set was my grooming zone as every team was family.”

Ranjeet’s inborn expertise was such that his performance while among bigger and much more hailed stars grabbed the attention of viewers who was loved by the audience. He became an adorable evil man and continues to remain thus.

On a lighter vein, when asked about his rape scenes, Ranjeet had a mischievous glint in his eyes when he said, “There were times not so long ago when I had to tug at the heroine’s sari or pallu and then…well you know  what. But today, a villain does not have to tug at women’s clothing simply because they are made to wear costumes that are already minimum and…” well, he grins.

There have been lean patches in his career but his wife Aloka and their two lovely children Divyanka Bedi and son Chiranjeev stood around him and stoked the sagging fire in him and with time, Ranjeet was back to his old, ugly and cruel ways.

“A good actor should know the ‘switch on – switch off’ process. You live your character in front of the camera and come out of it when you are given a break between shots. That way, the entire cast gelled well, in fact, so well that the lady I have half molested (the other half to be performed after the break) is sharing snacks with me and other stars. As I said, we were family then and family now,” said the man whose eyes and sneers and of course, dialogue delivery have made him the Devil incarnate. A collage of his expressions that line the walls and showcases at home are the more than 200 faces of evil.

What makes Ranjeet a non-party man is a poser that haunts the back of the mind. “The best place in the world is home and family. I prefer to stay home and feel the warmth. I have much less assignments now. But when I was working two shifts a day, my wife never vent her anger. In fact, she egged me on to be ‘Bad’ in a manner that helped me. She and my children have always been supportive and I am proud to have a family that is nothing short of a divine gift.”

Ranjeet does attend parties occasionally and the bonhomie he spreads among the other party goers is a natural part of his character, away from the spot lights, naturally.

“Be good and do good. Put your heart and soul to whatever you do. Never let disappointment to dominate your spirit for there is light at the end of the tunnel,” observes the Bad Man in parting.

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