Dilip Joshi, whose Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah character Jethalal has become another identity of sorts, turns a year older today. While he has no plans to celebrate given the Covid situation, it is perhaps the perfect time to revisit his journey as an actor and a person. In an exclusive conversation with indianexpress.com, he talks about Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah and playing ‘Jetha’.
Sharing that he cannot still fathom how the show receives so much love, the 54-year-old thanked God. “God has been kind. We will soon be completing 14 years. It’s a surreal feeling and I feel like I am dreaming. It’s surreal how people are still loving us. We are just blessed,” he says.
Going back in time on getting onboard Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah, Dilip Joshi shared how he knew creator Asit Kumar Modi since his college days. Given he knew about his acting caliber of him, Modi did not even audition the actor, but offered him a choice to play either Jethalal or Champaklal in the show. “He said I could pull off both and thus can make my choice. I wasn’t sure of Champak and thus picked Jetha. Even this character was quite different from what we had read in the Taarak Mehta columns. Asit ji conceptualized and designed Champak in a very different light, and set the show in society rather than a chawl. And the best part was he got the right actors for each part. Everything just fell in place for the show, and we managed to create magic.”
Asit Kumar Modi in his interviews has always mentioned how he wanted to give the audience fresh content, something different from the saas bahu sagas that were the flavor during the time. As the show continued to grow a year older each year, we asked Dilip Joshi if he had any hint it was going to be quite a long journey. “Honestly, I couldn’t complain as I was having so much fun. I enjoy playing Jetha even today as an actor. I get to sing, dance, fight and even have dream sequences. I am doing everything a Hindi film hero gets to do, every day. We have celebrated each festival and occasion with so much zest on the show. What more does anyone want? I replied.
But what about the actor’s quest to do something different? “I took up Taarak Mehta… after doing theater for nearly 25 years. I have done basically all kinds of roles so I never felt the need to do something different. I don’t think kuch baki reh gaya (anything is left for me to do). Also, as an actor, to be able to do the same thing again and again, and yet keeping the interest alive is a bigger challenge. Playing Jetha keeps me on my toes.”
The actor also has no apprehensions that he is recognized as Jetha rather than as Dilip Joshi. Calling it ‘satisfying’, he added that it’s any artist’s real satisfaction that their characters become household names. He believes when someone addresses him as Jethalal as that assures him that he’s doing a good job.
Even though Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah continues to be one of the most-watched shows, there is a section of the audience that criticizes it. Citing reasons like ‘no fresh content’ and ‘forced humour’, many have demanded that the show should now wrap up. Sharing that creating content is not in his hands from him, Dilip Joshi added that the team is still trying to give their best. “I am an actor and I try to do justice to the script that’s given to me. All of us toil hard every day. By God’s grace, neither I nor anyone on the team has taken success to our head. We still go on set each day to work hard and entertain our fans.”
On a final note, Dilip Joshi thanked fans for the love and blessing, adding, “That gives us the power and keeps us going. They have been supporting us throughout and I want to take the opportunity to thank them for their love and blessing.”