Vikram Gokhale, an actor who taught this scribe a great life lesson

Some 4-5 years ago, the legendary actor had a hearty conversation wherein he urged the youth, including yours truly, to save money for their old age.

File: Vikram Gokhale (1947-2022)

By Mayur Lookhar

A great actor bids good bye to the world. Popular and acclaimed artiste Vikram Gokhale breathed his last in a Pune hospital earlier today [26 November]. He was 75. Gokhale leaves behind a rich legacy that spans from Marathi to Hindi cinema doing hundreds of films.

The Hindi audiences would fondly remember him as the righteous Police Commissioner M.S Gaitonde in the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer cult-classic Agneepath [1990]. Gokhale has starred in all kind of roles, Today we’re not celebrating the actor, but it is about celebrating the great man. This writer doesn’t claim to have known him personally, but few years ago, we had a fine hearty conversation with the veteran actor.

We’d had called Gokhale to speak about his film Aiyaary [2018] where he had played the role of an Army chief. We sought to confirm from him whether the Neeraj Pandey directorial was partly based on the infamous Tatra truck scam. He had refused to confirm or deny it, simply saying that this film was more than just covering a scam.

Gokhale harped on the corruption in all walks of life, lamented our politics where the greedy would even compromise on national security. We listened patiently as Gokhale didn’t spare any political party. Clearly, the man didn’t rate the then politicians. We don’t recollect how, but the conversation then veered towards integrity in society.

This writer revealed to the actor how he too wanted to emulate his father as a modicum of honesty. Gokhale lauded this writer for staying honest, but also had some pearls of wisdom to offer. He had expressed concern over the wayward youth who have a tendency to squander money. We don’t recollect the conversation verbatim, but perhaps Gokhale went something like as follows.

“I’ve seen countless people waste their lives in search of that cinema dream. Most come to Mumbai, but fail. Many of them return empty handed, some land on the streets. When I see youth today, I find them very callous. They all want to enjoy the high life. Everyone wants fast money fast cars, But do they even save money to achieve such dream?,” said Gokhale.

The veteran drew our attention to the immature lot in the film industry. He continued, “I’ve seen actors find some success only to squander that money in no time. Some even landed on the streets because they didn’t value their money. I see youth around me who don’t save. All this name, fame is temporary. You must secure your future first by saving your money,” the legend said then.

Here was no actor, but a veteran of life passing a valuable advice. Gokhale spoke about his generation where they were told from their father, forefathers on the importance of saving money. “All these cars, bungalows, they will be of no use in your old age. You need to save money to take care of your health when you are old. I’ve seen people suffer, die alone, all because they wasted their wealth. No one will come to your aid then, only your wealth will save you” added Gokhale.

The Agneepath actor slammed the politicians who were only concerned with themselves. He cautioned the youth on the rising cost of living, inflation that only continues to rise with every period.

I had heard such conversation from my late father before but Gokhale echoing the same sentiments opened our eyes to the reality. We met the great man briefly at some media event later. He was in a hurry, but I introduced myself and reminded him of the phone conversation. He recalled that and greeted this writer with a wide smile. It was a simple meet but the joy of it is simply ummatched.

Time ticks away and we confess to losing sight of the great man’s words. The vagaries of life has dealt few nasty blows to this writer in the last few years. Covid compounded the misery further. It was at that moment, Gokhale’s words rang in our head. “Geez, I didn’t pay heed to him. I squandered quite a bit that has led to tough times,” rued yours truly.

Luckily, certain enchashment helped us during the crisis hour.

We’re still riding the tough times, often reminiscing Gokhale’s life lesson. If we can turn around our fortunes, save enough money, inculcate discipline, that would not only change our life, but it would be a true tribute to the great man. Rest in Peace, sir. You will be sorely missed.


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