MUMBAI: In a fascinating anecdote about the legendary TV show Mahabharat, veteran actor Pankaj Dheer played Karna in BR Chopra's 1988 production and told how BR Chopra asked him to “get out” of his office because he refused to shave off his mustache to play the role of Arjuna in the show. Pankaj revealed that he was originally selected to play Arjuna's role, but he was fired from the show because he didn't shave off his mustache for the part.
Recalling the incident, Pankaj spoke to a popular news portal and stated, “When I gave my audition, dialogue writers Rahi Masoom Raza, Bhring Tupkari sahab and Pandit Narendra Sharma ji had a panel together. They all thought that I would suit the role of Arjuna well. We shook hands on that and I signed the contract. Then BR Chopra called me and told me that since I would also have to play the role of Brihannala (the eunuch form of Arjuna) and for that you would need to shave off your moustache. I was like, ‘No, I can’t do that.’ I told him that my face’s balance is such that if I shave off my moustache, I won’t look good. He told me, ‘Are you an actor or what? You are leaving such a big role because of a moustache. I can’t understand this.'”
While Pankaj acknowledged that it would be "stupidity" to turn down Arjuna's role in the exchange of a moustache, fate had other ideas for the actor. He continued, “It was my big stupidity but at that time, I could understand only this much. Chopra sahab told me, ‘Get out of this door and don’t come back.’ He threw me out of his office. My contract was torn and for six months I kept roaming around and doing dubbing. Chopra sir called me again and this is what I call destiny. He asked me if I could do Karna’s role. I asked him, ‘Sir I don’t have to shave off my moustache right?’ He said no. It was destiny that I got Karna’s role.”
Two of the most popular television shows based on epics in Indian television history are Mahabharat and Ramayan (1987). Playing the character of Karna brought Pankaj Dheer great fame. His images were even referenced to Karna in textbooks.
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Credit- The Indian Express