For several decades, the Hindi Film Industry seems to be antithetical to talent. It often disregards talented artistes but eulogies those who either treat the industry with abject disregard or besmirch the repute of Bollywood. Despite being ignored by Bollywood, some actors, like Sayaji Shinde, have managed to gain recognition for their craft across India through their exceptional acting skills.
Initial Journey of Sayaji Shinde
Sayaji Shinde was born in 1959 into a poor farming family in Sakharwadi, Satara district. He didn’t let poverty deter him, instead he saw it as a challenge and left home at the young age of 18 to pursue his dreams. After completing his degree in Marathi, he took on a job as a night watchman at the state government’s irrigation department, earning only Rs 165 at the time.
Sayaji Shinde’s thirst for opportunity was unrelenting and he found his big break through a solo performance in the Marathi language. The 1987 Marathi play “Julwa” was a turning point in his career, leading him to greater recognition and success. Afterwards, he made his cinematic debut in 1994 with a minor role in the film “Wazir.” But it didn’t take long for audiences to be captivated by his acting prowess.
Played the role of Bachchu Yadav in Shool
By 1998, Sayaji Shinde had established a strong presence in Marathi cinema and had made a limited appearance in two Hindi films. A notable article about him caught the attention of an actor who recommended him to Ram Gopal Varma. At that time, RGV was preparing for the release of “Satya.”
Sayaji’s performance impressed Varma, leading to the role of Bachchu Yadav in “Shool.” It was a role based on the ‘Jungle Raj’ of Bihar. This marked the beginning of Sayaji’s successful cinematic career and even today, many still associate him with the character of Bachchu Yadav.
Just a few months after the success of “Shool,” Sayaji Shinde was given the opportunity to star in the 2000 Tamil film “Bharathi.” Initially, the role was intended for Kamal Haasan, but budget constraints resulted in Sayaji taking on the part.
The film, based on the renowned Tamil writer, poet and thinker Subrahmanya Bharati, presented a challenge for Sayaji as he was not fluent in Tamil. Nevertheless, he delivered a standout performance that endeared him to audiences. The film went on to win the National Film Award for Best Film in the Tamil language.
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Was not given due opportunities by Bollywood
Sayaji Shinde’s impressive acting skills caught the attention of multiple film industries, with his journey in the Telugu film industry being particularly noteworthy. He made his debut as the lead villain in the 2003 remake of the Tamil film “Tagore,” and quickly established himself as a vital part of the industry.
In 2006, he was given the role of Commissioner Syed Qadri in the film “Pokiri,” which was a massive success. This role, which was also portrayed by Govind Namdev in the Hindi version “Wanted,” further solidified Sayaji’s reputation as a talented actor.
But he did not get the same respect in Bollywood as he got in Marathi, Telugu and Tamil film industry. What was the reason for this? Was it nepotism, insider-outsider discrimination or were they insecure of his stellar acting skills. The recurrent backing to incompetent heroes and lack of opportunities for heroes like Shinde is one of the major reason for the current debacle of Bollywood.
No matter how much it wants to ferry its boat on the shoulders of yesteryear stars and nepo-kids, the audiences are giving their verdict. And the verdict is clear, only content can save Bollywood or in fact any industry for that matter. So, talent will eventually find its rightful place. Now, it’s up to Bollywood to realise the changed reality and adapt with it or keep deploying PR agencies to create false aura that Bollywood has gone past the bad phase. No! it has not.
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