Gufi Paintal, who rose to fame as Shakuni Mama from a well-liked mythological tale Mahabharat, shared his journey playing the evil character. The actor, who started his career as a casting director, wore the actor's hat for this iconic role, also opened about the hate message he would receive to play Shakuni. Let's take a glance at the interview.
What is it about the show that creates it such a hit?
I am quite happy that Mahabharat is back on COLORS. I even have also played a really interesting role as Vishwakarma in another wonderful serial on COLORS called Karmaphal Daata Shani. i think that mythological shows are an excellent 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 within the late eighties, I wont 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 very fact that folks were so innocent some time past and thought that i used to be Shakuni Mama in real! People loved to hate me due to my character. Also, to single out anybody memory would be tough as there have been with great care many amazing memories of working with the cast. all of them are memories of life.
Tell us something about your character, did the audience like your character back then?
Amrishji (Amrish Puri) is understood for enjoying Mogambo. Amjad Bhai (Amjad Khan) is understood for enjoying Gabbar Singh. In my case, it's Shakuni Mama's role that i'm remembered for. People like to hate me due to my character. Shakuni Mama was just like the tadka of the show. We all know 'Saadi dal khaa kar maza nahi aata' – we all need some tadka thereto . Also, characters like Shakuni are so well woven into the story that they become an integral part. Without them, the story doesn't move!
Tell us about how you were cast within the show. Did you are feeling that this show would continue to be such a huge hit?
I was the auditioning director, so I conducted auditions for nearly all the characters. As far as my casting was concerned, I had played Lord Metclaff during a serial just before Mahabharat called Bahadur Shah Zafar. In it, Ashok Kumar played the leading role and that i was the sole antagonist. Taking a lead from there, i used to be cast to play as Shakuni. I feel very honoured and happy that I need to play a task that gave me space to point out my talent as an actor. While I didn't have the thought that it had been getting to be such a huge hit, I also know that this show will always be special to me due to all the amazing people performing on the show especially BR Chopra.