Saanand Verma, who is renowned for his role of Anokhelal Saxena in the sitcom, Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain, recently won the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Icon Awards for his role. The actor has a large body of work in films, digital platforms, advertisement world. In an exclusive interview with ETimes TV, Saanand bared his heart out and spoke about the difficulties he underwent in his personal life, similarities between his and Saxena’s characters.
On receiving Dadasaheb Phalke Icon Award Films 2021
I am on the seventh heaven. Any recognition for any actor is very good because my job is to make people happy. When the audience at large is happy, it’s only then we get an award. Getting Dadasaheb Phalke Icon Award Films 2021 is very important for me and I take it very seriously. I feel a deep sense of gratitude towards everyone responsible for my success.
How has Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain changed your life?
I’ve been working as a professional actor since 2010 and I started with C.I.D as a lab assistant, that was my first job. There are many people who are not aware of the fact that I have done more than 20 television series before Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain. I used to do cameo roles in those TV series, which was a deliberate attempt. I’d planned on doing cameos only because I never wanted to be a television actor. I always wanted to be a film actor.
And have done films also. I never used to take up assignments where I was told that I have to do a continuity character on a television show because once I do such a character, my face is exposed completely. Vision gives you a lot of recognition but there are its downsides as well. Once you are very very famous for a character on television, then film guys are reluctant to take you on board, that’s the problem.
Film people think that this guy is overexposed and nobody will buy tickets and go to theatres to watch his films. That is the reason why it is difficult for a television actor to switch and become a film actor. This was the reason why I was against television assignments. I did cameos in 20 shows before Bhabiji but I was not exposed.
About Anokhelal Saxena being his first continuity character on TV
Anokhelal Saxena in Bhabiji is the first continuity role and I’ve almost done 1700 episodes in more than six years now. The reason I accepted this character was, it was a very unusual and challenging character. It was damn difficult for any actor to pull it off. I am a mad guy in real life also.
My director, Shashank Bali, thought that I am Saxena in real life. Shashank knew me from my corporate days, he is also from a corporate background, and he knew that I am not perfectly mentally fine and understood that I am having some kind of issues.
I have some kind of issues in my mental world. Therefore, Shashank thought that I am Saxena in real life also. That’s the reason, he recommended by name to the producer, casting team, and here I am doing this very unusual, uncommon character. The role of Saxena is very original. It is something that is not found in any kind of world television. As an actor, it was very fulfilling and challenging for me, and that’s why I took up this role.
I thought that this role can do wonders for my life and it can revolutionise my career as well as the entertainment world. At the same time, I drifted and started doing films also. I am an actor, known not only for Saxena but my other characters also.
Could you elaborate on the mental issue you mentioned above?
All my life, I have been experiencing very bizarre things. Every day, I feel that there is an invisible power over me and that is the reason I thank God. All-day, there is something happening, some miracle and I feel maybe someone is just using a joystick and playing and the entire world is a video game for somebody. Every day I see something very bizarre, extremely disturbing sometimes, and my life has been very weird.
I was an eight-year-old kid when I started earning for my family. And have seen various fields and I have been educating myself through things in my life. I was a guy earning Rs 50 lakh per annum in my corporate job, and I just quit that job and started walking 50 km every day like a mad man, just to be an actor. I thought that my true calling is acting. Therefore, I quit my secured job and put all my money into the house, and sold my car 0 because I didn’t have any money left to pay for my vehicle.
Public transportation like bus and train was not my cup of tea because I used to earn a lot of money in my corporate job. I thought that I cannot afford a cab or even an auto-rickshaw, so, I have to go on foot. I started walking 50 km every day from Mira Road to Andheri to give auditions and from Andheri to Mira Road. It was my daily routine. Only a mad man like me can think to do something like this.