Amit Bhatt popularly known as Champaklal Jayanthilal Gada aka Bapuji in Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah, the popular Sony SAB show is a class act!!
Not only has he been brave enough of accepting a role well above his real age in this acclaimed Neela Telefilms show, but he has also convincingly played the part for 12 long years now.
A household name, courtesy Bapuji’s histrionics and entertainment quotient in the show, Amit Bhatt seems to be a man who is all grounded and determined to stay positive and upbeat, irrespective of the situation he finds himself in.
A great speaker with the tendency to inspire people he talks with, Amit shared his anecdotes from the show and on his important role in the successful show.
Here is the exclusive conversation of Amit Bhatt:
How are you and family coping up with the lockdown phase?
The routine is set as of now, as we are following the same for 60 days now. The day is full of activities, we watch web-series and films, enjoy time with kids, and I sleep as usual by 10 PM.
What do you think is very important to be calm and wait for better dawn now?
This troubled phase implies for all, whatever profession he or she is in. It is for people of all ages. Now we need to change our thought process for the next year. We have always been running behind something or the other all of our life. Now we need to understand that God has given all of us a break from our routine mundane life. For example, we have a Director in our show Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah who became father very recently, some two or three months back. Imagine what a golden period it is for him, to be with his newborn and family.
We have to run a lot once things get fine. So as of now, we need to get prepared in the mind that we are under curfew. There is a need to go blank and accept life as it comes. The best memories of your life are with you, but there is no point in thinking of the future. You will only feel all the more tense if you think, which might lead to depression. Once the lockdown ends, we need to open up our mind.
The funda regarding saving will change now. You just check you are sitting at home, eating what you cook at home. So we are saving a lot. Now when things open up, people will think more on the lines of saving. This time will never come back, and we need to spend it with our family (smiles).
We miss the family bonding that happens during the airing of Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah at home. What do you go through?
Everyone is missing whatever he has been doing. But as I told you, we should not miss anything now. It is a forced break that we have got. Our mindset is to enjoy it and nothing more.
Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah as a show needs no introduction. What have your learnings been with your long journey?
How can I answer this!! As actors, we keep learning every day. Shri Amitabh Bachchanji also learns with every day’s experience. The sky is the limit when it comes to learning. So this will go on and on. One thing I have to tell you is that we have toiled a lot for the show. We have worked really hard and followed a certain formula for success. We normally sit together, read together, and then get to shoot. Touchwood, there has been no chaos at all on the set and between actors. We only argue over scenes for the betterment of the scenes. The show has completed 12 years, and unity amongst the cast and crew is one of the biggest gains from the show.
It is easier to maintain harmony and unity for a small duration, but this is a huge achievement to go on strongly for years?
This is certainly a miracle and God’s grace. Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah will be there for eternity and people will forever talk of it.
The show has completed 12 years, and unity amongst the cast and crew is one of the biggest gains from the show.
What have been your fondest memories on the set?
When the telecast of Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah is on, viewers definitely laugh a lot. What I want to tell fans is that when we perform for our scenes, we too have a laugh riot on sets, which ends up in retakes (laughs). We enjoy our scenes a lot and live the situation to give the best. The deepest regret and loss is of Hathi Bhai (Kavi Kumar Azad) who we lost during this memorable journey.
Memories of enjoyment for all the 12 years are so many. Off the camera, we enjoy a lot. We know each other so well that no prank is taken seriously by anyone. All is done in fun and in a mood to be happy.
Who is the biggest prankster on the set?
What should I say of myself!! I play the character of the senior citizen, Bapuji in the show. All call me Bapuji. Now, Disha Vakanii is not in the show. But if you ask her this same question, she will tell you that Bapuji is the biggest prankster on set. She had actually kept my nickname as ‘Shin Chan’ based on the kids’ cartoon. I cannot sit quietly in one place for long. Even whether it is day or night, I like it to keep myself in a happy zone.
Being young in real life and playing an elderly character for so many years… Have you ever felt this monotonous?
Never have I felt so. This is part of my job. In fact, I am very happy that I took this role. Not all will know that I had the option to choose another role in the show. I was also offered another role, which does not exist now. I am happy that I chose to play Bapuji.
However, the only time when I feel bad playing Bapuji is when we shoot for a festive ambience, and when all actors are dancing with their partners in the show, I feel bad that I do not have one (laughs). Champak Chacha gets to dance surely, but the love zone is not there.
I have faced many heart-warming situations wherein people who were elder in age used to seek blessings from me.
We have heard that there was a time when you shaved off your head for the role!!
Earlier I used to have the long silky hair. I used to wear the wig to look bald. But it used to take long hours to get into the role. At that time, there were no HD cameras, and onscreen it used to look obvious that the man playing the old character is young in age, who uses a wig. So to get the act right, I decided to shave off my head. And it worked in my favour. I was only 35 years then, but I was happy doing it for the role.
Later came the idea of wearing a cap always. We had a cute back story and relevance to this cap wearing wherein Tapu tells Bapuji to always wear the cap.
I have faced many heart-warming situations wherein people who were elder in age used to seek blessings from me. I used to see the positivity in all these, and such moments have only motivated me further.
That was a nice incident of you shaving off your head at the age of 35. Tell us how your family reacted to this decision of yours?
(laughs) True, when I decided to shave off my head, I had not told anyone in my family. So when I entered as a takla all in my house were stunned and blank. I had to explain a lot, as people used to get shocked at seeing me without hair.
With which actor do you enjoy the most while shooting your scenes?
Well, I like it with everyone. But yes, people love the chemistry of the father and son, that is Bapuji and Jetha. Dilip Bhai is a very good actor. We had earlier worked together in Gujarati theatre. We were together in F.I.R. So I had worked with him earlier to Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah. So the chemistry is great between us.
Also, the combination scenes with all in the cast come out really well. It is a sheer joy working with all in the show.
What is the best part about the show as per you?
The best part is our association with our Producer Asit Kumarr Modiji. Asit bhai is always available 24/7 for everybody and it has been like this for 12 years now. This is not the case with all production houses. The manner in which he has always been involved with the show is outstanding.
What is your advice to your fans and for your well-wishers?
As I said earlier, this is not the time to think. Instead, it is time to enjoy. So engross yourself in something or the other. You have so much to watch on TV and on the web. If you are a TikTok lover, create something new on it. If you are passionate about reading, this is the best time to read whatever you want. Do something new every day. If you love music, that’s the best passion to have at this time. Music soothes the mind and makes you more relaxed.