Any Indian film aficionado’s list of favourites is bound to feature two hits by Indian film actor Ravi Baswani — Chashme Baddoor (1981) and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (1983).
The actor often said that he owed his success to being at the right place at the right time and seizing the opportunity.
Born on 29 September 1946, Baswani grew up in the national capital and was a part of Kirori Mal College’s dramatic society, where he learnt acting.
While he worked as a management trainee after college, he became an active member of the city’s thriving theatre scene.
Baswani often taught theatre at Modern School, Barakhamba Road, one of the city’s elite schools. He had no plans to move to Mumbai to pursue acting, but life did.
While hanging around at the Delhi theatre circuit one day, he became familiar with Naseeruddin Shah — who was then preparing for his legendary role as a blind school principal in Sai Paranjpye’s film Sparsh (1980).
Baswani read the script and was enamoured by it. He wanted to be a part of the film in any capacity, even offering to work as a spot boy.
He eventually found a job in the production department, and during this time, director Paranjpye saw something in the young Baswani.
She wrote on a note: “How about doing a role in my new film Dhuan Dhuan? It’s a super-duper comic role with miles and miles of footage.”
“If it is yes, come to Bombay for a ‘do’ on the 3rd Sept. Rajdhani will be paid to and fro…If you can’t come to Bombay, it’s okay. But I must know very quick.”
And that’s how Baswani landed his debut role in a film that would eventually be called Chashme Baddoor.
In Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, Baswani’s extensive experience in Delhi’s theatre circuit came to the rescue. It is said that he often brought the cast together with his confidence and natural comic talent.
In total, Baswani featured in about 30 films including the likes of Bunty Aur Babli (2005), Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1993), and Doordarshan shows like Idhar Udhar (1985).
When the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, revived its acting course in 2004, Baswani became the coordinator and a teacher.
On 27 July, 2010, he passed away in Haldwani, Uttarakhand at the age of 63 following a heart attack.
While that marked an end to the hits Baswani would give the world, his legacy lives on through the work he delivered.