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Sai Baba of TV

August 26
20:58 2011

Mukul Nag is all praise for Indian Americans

FREMONT, CA: Mukul Nag who plays Sai Baba in the 2007 Indian television serial of the same name was here in Fremont to participate in the stage performance at Fremont Hindu Temple and to grace the temple float for the Independence Day Parade organized by Federation of Indo Americans. With his magnetic personality he was able to charm everybody and made several new friends in the Bay Area. He also delivered powerful messages of Sai Baba to devotees at the temple. The devotees were overwhelmed by his presence on the stage and they could not stop themselves from crying. They were seeing the Baba in him.

Mukul Nag has been in the acting business since 1972. He took his training from Shriram Center For Art & Culture Delhi in 1983. After that he did three years degree course from National School of drama, Delhi in 1990.

Rakesh Kapoor, Stage & TV artist, a very old and good friend of Mukul sharing the same home town, Meerut, back in India and at present, Administrator, Fremont Hindu Temple, Fremont talked to him for India Post.

Rakesh Kapoor: How did you bag the prestigious role of Sai Baba?

Mukul Nag: I had started thinking about Baba, working on how to play Baba, very early when I was quite young. My maternal grand-parents were already worshiping Baba at their home and the stories of Baba started fascinating me. As far as my selection for the role is concerned, it was tough. I was to be chosen among 50 other artists lined up for Baba’s role in Ramanand Sagar’s camp. Only good thing was that I had already worked with Papaji (Ramanand Sagar) for his teleserial “Krishna”, in the role of Sudama. It was noticed by stalwarts of the industry. “Baki Baba ka aashirwad.” It was all Baba’s blessings.

RK: Were you attached with any stage or theatre group over there?

MN: The name of our group was Young Beatles Club. I was also attached with IPTA, Durga Bari Bengali Group and all other groups which were really working on stage.

RK: Tell us about the groups and artists you have worked with in Meerut and Mumbai

MN: In Meeurt, first of all I started working with my first Guru Soomiron Niogi Ji who himself was a very good theatre artist. After that I was with Sudip Biswas, Bisu Banerjee, Dev Banerjee, Shanti Verma, Rajeev, Vijay Jain and Manoj. The artists with whom my association was long and unforgettable were Pradeep Hans, Kamal Kishore Gupta, Arihant Jain, Vinay Kumar and I remember that later you were introduced to our group by Pradeep Hans.

In Mumbai, I worked with Prakash Jha in films “Apaharan” and “Gangajal”. I worked with Ram Gopal Verma in “Company”, with Shyam Benegal in “Netaji the Forgotten Hero”, with Madhur Bhandarkar in “Satta” & “Aan”, with Govind Nihalani in “Hazar Chaurasi Ki Maa”. For TV shows, I worked with Basu Chatterjee for “Byomkesh Bakshi”, with Vinod Pande for “Mere Humsafar”, with Anurag Basu for ”Saturday Suspense”, Shakti Samanta Films for “Kalchakra” and With Ramanand Sagar for “Krishna” in the role of Sudama and in “Sai Baba” as Sai Baba, Which gave me lot of recognition as actor.

RK: Any other projects in hand or future assignments?

MN: Yeah, I am working with Namit Bisht for the latest film “Jeet Lenge Jahan” also working with Directors Sujeet Ghosh and Sanjay Saral, the names of the films are not announced yet. In October I am going to London and Leicester with my show called “Sabka Malik Ek Hai”. The dates are 13th to 16th of October.

RK: Did you ever think coming to USA and how did it all happen?

MN: I know that you gave me a call first on behalf of Temple Management and told me about the play and temple program for participating in FIA festival on Independence Day, in which your temple was also participating with a float. First of all I thought it won’t work but these were your and Deepak Ji’s sincere efforts that I am here before you. Everything looks good here, the people here are nice. I really salute the FIA Chairman Dr. Romesh Japra and Co-Chairman Rajesh Verma and all his team members who have kept alive, so well, the culture and traditions of India and that too miles and miles away from India itself. Everybody gave me tons of love and respect especially Neeloo Bhabhi, whom I started addressing as “Bhauji”. You know “Bhauji’ in Bhojpuri means the wife of brother and “Bhabhi” in Hindi. “Bhauji” sounds closer than “Bhabhi”. I cannot forget Veena Birla Ji, always smiling and lively, so down to earth and her husband Heera Birla Ji, a diamond in true sense like Kohinoor Hira. Manorma Joshi Ji, she has been very instrumental in calling me here. Sunil and Payal Sehgal, Govind Pasumarthi Ji, Sardar Lal Singh Bhatti ji, Dhol guy and very good singer and all other artists who had participated in “Sai Baba Laghu Natika” (a short play on Sai Baba)

RK: You have been to Fremont Hindu Temple. Tell us about it. How the people are are here? How was the play “Sai Laghu Natika” and how was your experience about your own performance there?

MN: Fremont Hindu Temple is really constructed beautifully. People are very nice here and work with full devotion. But all the people cannot be of same nature. All the five fingers are not equal but I am confident that Baba will take care all of them. As far as the play is concerned that was wonderfully played by all the devotees of Baba and they did it with full devotion that is what needed for the success. It was a great success. Rajesh Verma Ji said in the beginning of the play that in 27 years of history of the temple that was the first time that some kind of play is being staged here and all credit goes to all the artists on stage and back stage, coordinators Manorma Ji, Veena Ji, Govind Ji and of course Rakesh Kapoor Ji, who has written and directed it, and his team. If I say about my performance it was not satisfactory for me as there was some sound problem, though the audience liked it very much. I had lot of stuff to deliver but could not because of interruptions in light and sound. But all is well that ends well.

RK: Tell us about the FIA Mela and Parade and how you link it with the Independence Day?

MN: People were very excited. I saw this excitement on their faces when I was sitting in the temple float .Celebrating 15th August, The Independence Day, so far from India was also a dream for me. In India just remembering this day is enough. Some people keep sleeping on 15th August and 26th January but here I see an entirely different scene. Thousands of people kept waving and clicking the pictures from the roadside and the two hour time on the float flew away within the wink of the eye. People in India should take a lesson from American Indians as how to celebrate their prestigious festivals. Mela was very good it was very well organized, freshness was there, and cultural program had lot of variety. I liked the Bhangra most. Food booths were of different varieties and I enjoyed our Indian food there. Once again hats off for the FIA team here, the way they handled it, especially Deepak Chhabra for floats and Mohinder Khanna for Mela.

RK: Would you like to tell us anything about your visit; how it was? How you liked your stay here?

MN: I am speechless. It was my first ever visit to US. The people here literally made me cry with their love and affection. Not for a second did I feel that I am thousands of miles away from my home. I am really indebted to the people here. In the end I would like to pray to Baba that all of you here stay close to each other while doing Sai Baba’s Bhakti and be like a big family.

Rakesh Kapoor

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