Actor Gufi Paintal, who played the iconic character of Shakuni Mama in Mahabharat talks about his journey in the show.
Mahabharat has again become massively popular, now that it is airing on COLORS. What is it about the show that makes it such a hit?
I am quite happy that Mahabharat is back on COLORS. I have also played a very interesting role as Vishwakarma in another wonderful serial on COLORS called Karmaphal Daata Shani. I believe that mythological shows are a great way of getting some good life lessons and keeping yourself motivated during the lockdown.
Can you share your most special memory from the show?
When Mahabharata was airing in the late eighties, I used to get thousands of letters from the Mahabharat fans. A letter I remember was from a gentleman who threatened me! He said I should stop doing evil deeds or he would break my legs! The special thing about those days was the fact that people were so innocent back then and thought that I was Shakuni Mama in real! People loved to hate me because of my character. Also, to single out any one memory would be tough as there were just so many amazing memories of working with the cast. They all are memories of life.
Tell us something about your character, did the audience like your character back then?
Amrishji (Amrish Puri) is known for playing Mogambo. Amjad Bhai (Amjad Khan) is known for playing Gabbar Singh. In my case, it is Shakuni Mama’s role that I am remembered for. People love to hate me because of my character. Shakuni Mama was like the tadka of the show. We all know ‘Saadi dal khaa kar maza nahi aata’ – we all need some tadka to it. Also, characters like Shakuni are so well woven into the story that they become an integral part. Without them, the story does not move!
Tell us about how you were cast in the show. Did you feel that this show would go on to be such a massive hit?
I was the auditioning director, so I conducted auditions for almost all the characters. As far as my casting was concerned, I had played Lord Metclaff in a serial just before Mahabharat called Bahadur Shah Zafar. In it, Ashok Kumar played the leading role and I was the only antagonist. Taking a lead from there, I was casted to play as Shakuni. I feel very honored and happy that I got to play a role that gave me space to show my talent as an actor. While I did not have the idea that it was going to be such a massive hit, I also know that this show will always be special to me because of all the amazing people working on the show especially BR Chopra.