Having made his acting debut with Malgudi Days, he went onto direct one of the most iconic serials in international television history – Sarabhai vs Sarabhai. Today, actor-director DEVEN BHOJANI is busy writing a script for a feature film and unwinding after his latest TV serial, Bhakharwadi, ended recently.
Born to Balwant Rai and Daksha Bhojani in a Gujarati family based in Mumbai, Deven graduated in commerce from Narsinh Monjee College and later learnt film direction at one of the topmost filmmaking schools in the US.
The man who made characters like Gattu (Baa Bahoo Aur Baby), Patel (Office Office) and Balkrishna Gokhale (Bhakharwadi) not only famous but eternal speaks to SAURABH TANKHA on his life and more…
When did acting happen to Deven Bhojani?
I started acting in class III but then got busy with studies. It was in college that I participated in inter-collegiate drama competitions again and won a few prizes. Thereafter, I started getting acting offers from experimental and amateur theatre groups as well as professional Gujarati groups. This was followed by TV serials and films.
You debuted in 1987 with Malgudi Days and then worked in Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander in 1992. Over these last three decades plus, how has life in entertainment industry changed in all aspects?
Life has obviously changed. On the entertainment front, I have tried and provided it to the best of my capabilities with full sincerity and ensured my shows are watched by the entire family together, back then and today. I feel fortunate to have contributed to the Indian television industry with shows like Office Office, Dekh Bhai Dekh, Baa Bahoo Aur Baby and more recently, Bhakharwadi.
As a director, I feel I have done a fairly good job with Sarabhai vs Sarabhai, Sumit Sambhal Lega, mini-series Pukar and feature film, Commando 2.
As an actor, it has been enjoyable, being pampered and treated like a star. But it has been an experience getting into the skin of each character for it neither exists nor lives. You first need to believe in it yourself and then make audiences get the same impression. At the same time, it needs to be lovable and likeable. I’m glad many of my characters became popular and some were iconic like Gattu (Baa Bahoo Aur Baby), Patel (Office Office) and Karima (Dekh Bhai Dekh).
Audiences are different for different genres and shows. They are varied and expect different types of entertainment, be it anywhere in the world. Some will like saas-bahu dramas and naagin-daayan serials, others will love watching KBC and Bigg Boss. This can be challenging. If a show, series or film is created with entertainment as the main quotient, it will surely be successful in entertaining the audiences. Though I have learnt at every stage, there is still a lot of learning to do. But I’m happy this learning has happened for the entertainment of audiences.
Why was it that Sarabhai vs Sarabhai didn’t make it big first and later achieved cult status?
When Sarabhai vs Sarabhai started in 2004, it was much ahead of its times. May be the humour, the nuances and the characterisation were not easily accepted and understood by the masses then. Today, people do understand that humour and perhaps that’s the reason it has become likeable by the day. I’m proud it is counted as one of the best shows ever and is in the bracket of top international shows like Friends, The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother. Credit must go to producers Aatish Kapadia and JD Majithia as well as the team of actors. Special mention to Aatish for writing such a wonderful script.
Do you think OTT is the future of entertainment industry in India?
It surely is. OTT has been growing since its arrival and will keep growing. Now, even big budget films are choosing it as a potential option. Also, OTT provides audiences with various genres of entertainment, be it regional or international. Perhaps it’ll make a dent on cinema halls. We’ll have to work hard to get audiences back to cinema halls.
Does it happen that if you do not get meatier roles, plump assignments or people do not invite you to their parties, immaterial of the fact whether you are an “insider or outsider”, a feeling of insecurity seeps in and there are chances you get into a phase of depression?
I wouldn’t like to generalise the issue of getting into depression because I feel it is not only limited to the entertainment industry. All industries have people undergoing depression and in all age groups. We can’t pinpoint that people from the entertainment industry only get depressed. I feel one should just live life king size.
What is Devan Bhojani doing when he is not breathing entertainment?
When I’m not entertaining, I get entertained from my family and entertain them. Spend time with myself. I love online shopping and surfing. I dig, dig and dig into various subjects and do a lot of research with the aim of learning. I feel quite entertained that way.
What’s up with Devan Bhojani these days?
I just finished playing Balkrishna Gokhale in Bhakharwadi and am unwinding at present. Though I’ve been getting offers as an actor, a director, a creative consultant, a writer and a script consultant, I’m weighing my options before finalising one as I’m in no hurry to start something new. However, I’m working on a film script.
Mantra for life.
Be sincere, passionate, fun-loving and try to be likeable and loveable. Make people happy and share positive vibes.
Favourite show as a director.
Sarabhai vs Sarabhai and Baa Bahoo Aur Baby. If we exclude mine, Balika Vadhu as it was a great show.
Favourite show as an actor.
Gattu in Baa Bahoo Aur Baby. I recently saw Mere Dad Ki Dulhan and I like many actors there.
Favourite actor and actress ever, on small screen and silver screen.
Aamir Khan, Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt and Kangana Ranaut in movies and Paresh Ganatra, Ratna Pathak Shah and Sheeba Chadha on the small screen.
I don’t plan much in advance. I go wherever life takes me. I may focus being a film director, a TV actor or explore the OTT platform. However, I’m missing theatre as I love it as an actor.