Subodh Bhave played the role of Birbal in Taj: Divided By Blood.
Har Har Mahadev, which released in various languages, brought Subodh Bhave back in the limelight. The actor has now been actively working on OTT platforms and is recently seen in the web series, Taj: Divided By Blood. He was seen in Vaalvi before that and has another movie, Phularni in his kitty. With so many projects, Subodh sure has his hands full but he has no intentions to stop since the actor wants to explore OTT more and is thankful for the platform.
Subodh spoke to OTTplay about his recent releases Vaalvi and Taj. He also spilled details about Phularni and his upcoming projects.
Excerpts from the interview…
Har Har Mahadev, Vaalvi and now Taj and Phularni. Do you think it is your time now, with so many back-to-back projects?
No, I don't believe that. It is my time since 22 years. I want to work for 100 years more. It was, is and will always be my time. If someone wants to do work, the concept of time doesn't matter. Some things work, some don't. It is more important to do varied work. It was a good start to the year because of a pathbreaking film like Vaalvi, which was also a success. It is a superhit. Taj is my first Hindi web series. I play Birbal in it. Phularni is inspired from a Marathi theatre that goes by the same name. I'm enjoying the stage.
Having started from TV, you have come a long way. 23 years in the industry. Now, seeing how OTT is almost a medium like TV - it's there for people to enjoy at a stretch - does it feel like a deja vu?
Yes. OTT is important because of makers and actors. Today, we know that there are brilliant actors in every state of India thanks to OTT. They got brilliant roles on OTT. It is not a star-driven but content-driven platform. Content requires actors, not stars. Many Hindi films did not work even when it had huge stars, while newcomers came on OTT and the content worked. People are bored of the watching the same story. They want to see something new. The new actors are so brilliant but if they come to mainstream Hindi cinema, they would probably play the fourth friend to the star or brother to the heroine. On OTT, they play lead characters. Some actors are so brilliant that there's a whole web series dedicated to their character.
I'm also enjoying OTT with Taj and a web series I produced. So, yes, I'm enjoying OTT platform as well.
Tell me about Taj. What is your role in it?
Birbal is someone every Indian knows. When you play the character you have heard about since your childhood, what could be more joyous? I play Birbal and Naseeruddin Shah plays Akbar and he is someone whose work has always been inspirational. I have most scenes with him. We worked together for 25 days at a stretch and I learnt a lot from him. His style, body language and way of talking, that was like I was back in acting school and was getting paid too.
Birbal generally is very chatur. So, was that there in the script or did you spontaneously have some lines to do justice to the role?
The Birbal I play is extremely different from the one we know about. He does no comedy or tell tales. This Birbal is very practical because everything around him is very dark - there's powerplay. He tries to bring Akbar to the right track everytime. He fights with Akbar and doesn't always follow him. Here, Birbal is his confidante. He is matured, uncomplicated and someone who stands with the truth.
When we shot, there was his picture initially, of course. We did rehearsals to understand what this Birbal is like. Naseer ji also helped me understand if I went wrong since I don't know Hindi as much as I know Marathi. Some times, I wouldn't know the meaning to something and I would ask Naseer sir and he would tell me. We would improvise during rehearsals and if that fit, then we would keep that scene. The process was brilliant.
Did you share screen space with Dharmendra too?
No, I didn't share a scene with him. I hoped to do a scene with him but unfortunately, that didn't happen.
If you had to play some other role in Taj, which would you?
Any dark role. Every actor was brilliant actually. The characters are written very well. If given a chance again, I would still play Birbal.
We all know, saw and loved Vaalvi. Tell me about Phularni and your role in the film.
Phularni is inspired from a Marathi play of the same name. There's even a Hollywood film named My Fair Lady inspired from the story. There are many films inspired across the world on the concept. My character bets on the lead - that he will make her a supermodel within a year. It's about the process.
Now that you have collaborated with Swwapnil in Vaalvi, do we expect to see you work together again, probably in a web series?
Definitely. We had collaborated off-screen before. We want to work together on-screen again but are waiting for a script that we're comfortable with. If somebody wants to take us in a web series, we're definitely open to it. He is like my brother.
Of course, you have a lot of projects at hand. Any you want to talk about?
I have a film at hand. I'll be directing the movie soon. We will go on floors in June. I'm also shooting for Mahesh Manjrekar's next film. Phularni and two-three other films will release soon. I have another Hindi web series after Taj.