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The boy next door
Meet the everyday guy, who might be near useless in action-packed combat but won't give up on the daily battles of life. Meet Amol Palekar, the man who redefined the meaning of a hero in Indian Cinema.
Amol Palekar, the dreaming Aam Aadmi of Bollywood; Image source: Women's Web

Born on 24th November 1944

Amol Palekar was born on 24 November 1944 in a lower-middle-class family in Mumbai. Affording education was tough for him and his family. He took up odd jobs like typewriting to pay for his college.

Finally, he was able to complete his post-graduation in art from the prestigious college, JJ School of Arts, Mumbai. Thus, began his career as a painter. Amol has had seven one-man exhibitions to date. However, painting as a career wasn't proving to be a moneymaker for him. So, he joined the Bank of India as a clerk.

One day he was handing on a theatre set with his friends. Satyadev Dubey, the theatre doyen, saw him and offered him a play. When the day of his performance came, the critics gave him a distinguished review. Soon enough, he became a well-known name in the local theatre. In fact, his contributions to the theatre genre have been tremendous, it's just it gets overshadowed by his fame and success in Indian cinema.

His debut movie was Marathi film- Bajriraocha Beta, which got good reviews. But his career took a turning point when he met Basu Chatterjee. He cast him in Rajnigandha, his first Hindi film. After this, the duet went on to make significant movies. They made Chhoti Si Baat which was an incredibly low budget movie but turned out to be a surprise hit.

He and Basu Chatterjee's first three movies became silver jubilee hits and ran in theatre for 25 weeks. His genre had become the "middle class" comedies and he became the "middle-class everyman" who was struggling in his life in a comedic way. The movie genre at that time was set at action-packed movies or completely romantic mush. Enter Amol Palekar. The guy who was struggling to make it in life against real-life problems in a comedic way.

He gave the hero image as someone relatable instead of being the macho-manly image set up by his contemporary actors like Amitabh Bachchan. Amol Palekar came to be known as the 'boy next door.' The man, who didn't get the girl by becoming her knight in the shining armour but the guy who won her heart by making her laugh and the audience loved it.

But then he decided he wanted to explore different roles too. He took up the job of playing the villain in the movie 'Bhumika.' People called it a bad set; he could ruin his well-set image for nothing. Not paying attention to such comments he delivered an exceptional performance. The film won two Filmfare awards and he was invited to many international film festivals because of this movie.

And he hadn't lost his touch with his 'middle-class guy' character too because that is when came India's top hit comedy "Gol Maal." Many movie experts call it to be the best comedy movie to be ever made in India. His way of performing comic scenes with a straight face, his struggles to please his boss and his daughter make this film a classic and won him a Filmfare award. If by chance, you have missed this movie, you are missing out on some pure gold!

He turned to movie direction while he was at the peak of his acting career, directing noteworthy movies for the next 30 years. Paheli (2005) was an Oscar Nominee, Quest (2006) won the National Film Award, Dhoosar (2011)- a Marathi film won the Maharashtra State Film Award. He said that he isn't interested in creating movies that are meant to be moneymakers instead he wants to make movies that have meaning. He doesn't like to go for a lot of advertisements either. He believes his work will speak for itself. In an interview, he said that I became an actor by accident, producer by compulsion and director by choice.

Even today, actors like Rajkumar Rao and Ayushman Khurana are compared to him as they too play similar roles as he did in those days, the boy next door, the everyday man navigating through life.
Astha Kumari Author
Currently a resident of neverland who is confused most of the time. Prefers to paint places that I am too lazy to visit and only bursts my bubble to yoke together my love for words and aesthetics.

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