An actor of remarkable presence and gravitas, Vikram Gokhale’s dramatic eloquence and cocksure authority sparkled every time he had to call on someone’s bluff or leave them too tongue-tied to beat around the bush. Often though, his cold, composed stare was enough to put a dolt in place.
Gokhale’s artistic legacy can be traced back to his great grandmother and grandmother.
Durgabai Kamat and Kamala Gokhale are India’s foremost female actors while his father Chandrakant Gokhale earned eminence in film and theatre.
Table maestro Lalji Gokhale was his paternal uncle.
Despite the influence of these talents, the actor hoped to make a future in the Indian Air Force.
But the financial crunch at home compelled him to forsake the idea and take up Marathi playwright Bal Kolhatkar’s offer to act.
It was Director Vijaya Mehta’s approach to the craft though that helped Gokhale in honing his craft while dabbling in Marathi theatre and cinema. Significant supporting parts in Hindi films and television soon followed as did an occasional stint behind the camera.
Vikram Gokhale, who passed into the ages on November 26, didn’t become an actor by choice but his body of work is a tribute to his genius.
Sukanya Verma lists the veteran actor’s memorable performances.
Yehi Hai Zindagi
High on smiling visage and serene logic, Gokhale appears as Lord Krishna before a penniless Sanjeev Kumar guiding his conscience and conceit in K S Sethumadhavan’s fable.
A year later, the two actors encountered each other outside a theatre in Swarg Narak, where in an amusing nod to his divine portrayal in Yehi Hai Zindagi, Sanjeev Kumar tells Gokhale’s theatre manager about his uncanny resemblance to the ‘actor Vikram Gokhale’ who played Krishna Maharaj in the drama.
‘Bilkul wohi personality. Aankhon mein wohi chamak. Chehre pe wohi damak. Arre, smile bhi wohi hai.’
If anything, Gokhale’s cameo tells us about the lasting impact of his heavenly avatar on the silver screen.
Thodasa Romani Ho Jaaye
Amol Palekar’s whimsical, lyrical, musical telefilm inspired by N Richard Nash’s 1954 play The Rainmaker features Vikram Gokhale as a sleepy, small town’s divorced collector whose interactions with starry-eyed Anita Kanwar add to the intrigue of its quirky slice-of-life.
As the no-nonsense but sympathetic top cop M S Gaitonde witnessing Amitabh Bachchan’s Vijay Dinanath Chauhan go from bitter boy to revengeful gangster, Gokhale is a picture of earnest justice.
There’s no mincing of words when he forewarns, ‘tum apni maut ki taraf chal nahi balki daud rahe ho.’
One of the biggest blockbusters of Marathi cinema in the 1990s, Maherchi Saadi‘s (remade in Hindi as Saajan Ka Ghar) melodramatic ideals are as regressive as they come, wherein a father treats his daughter as a source of misfortune after he loses his wife in childbirth.
Their lifelong estrangement and belated reconciliation wouldn’t turn on half the waterworks without Vikram Gokhale’s heft.
Back in Doordarshan’s golden era, Kavita Chaudhary’s acclaimed television series based on India’s first woman Director General of Police Kanchan Chaudhary Bhattacharya, Gokhale plays the supportive, feminist father striving for his daughter to soar and succeed in her dreams with tremendous feeling.
Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro
In Saeed Mirza’s angst filled exploration of minority woes, Gokhale plays a down-on-luck, unemployed father of the titular hero with a resigned, defeated demeanour that says volumes about his inner torment and indignation.
Gokhale’s emotional delivery as a retired teacher knocking doors to collect money for the treatment of his comatose spouse in the 2013 Marathi drama earned him a National Award for Best Actor, which he shared with Irrfan Khan for Paan Singh Tomar.
The clash between Vikram Gokhale’s righteous cop and Amitabh Bachchan’s cornered hero resulted in some terrific moral jugalbandi in Mukul Anand’s extravaganza.
As ‘Rajput Khan’ the duty-bound, kindly jailor who takes AB’s pathaan at his word and forges an unusual friendship, the actor hits all the right buttons.
Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam
Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s vibrant celebration of song and romance stars Gokhale as a family patriarch, indulgent father and virtuoso of classical singing.
He is man of principles and restraint.
Impress him like Salman Khan’s Italy-based singer and he’ll take you under his wing.
Charm him like Ajay Devgn’s heartfelt lawyer and he’ll bless you with his daughter’s hand.
Betray his trust and he’ll stop talking and banish you from his life for good.
Gokhale’s directorial debut in Marathi looks at the unethical face of medical practitioners and their inflated egos through the rivalry between a young doctor and her condescending senior.
His smooth depiction of the latter’s transgressions show his willingness to go dark.
Nana Patekar’s Shakespearean actor is at the centre of Mahesh Manjrekar’s adaptation of Kusumagraj’s Marathi play but as his empathetic best friend — later bereaved and bedridden — Vikram Gokhale delivers one of the most memorable performances of his career.
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