Actor Neeraj Kabi on living his dream in Goutam Ghose's Hindi film, Raahgir
It took him 21 years and many an odd job to materialise his long-cherished dream of getting noticed as an actor in Bollywood, and it was this dream to be known as a fine artiste, which had kept Neeraj Kabi going on despite all the despair in between. “It’s too long a wait but I just hung on since acting is all that I ever wanted to do,” says the self-taught actor, who claimed the limelight at the age of 42 when Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus came his way. Since then Kabi — who debuted in 1997 in the National Award-winning Odiya film Shesha Drushti (The Last Vision) by renowned director AK Bir — has been frequently seen in films including Talvar, Byomkesh Bakshy, Gali Guliyan and Hichhki.
And this year, he is fulfilling another dream of his — being a part of veteran director Goutam Ghose’s Hindi film, Raahgir, based on a short story by Prafulla Roy. “ Since childhood, I ’ve dreamed of working with stalwarts like Shyam Benegal, Mrinal Sen and Goutam Ghose. Now, I’m delighted to act in Ghose’s latest. I saw Paar, when I was in college and I have been a fan of Ghose since then,” exclaims Kabi, who plays Chopatlal in this film, which will be taken to the festivals before its theatrical release.
“In this film, three poor strangers (played by Adil Hussain, Tilottoma Shome and Kabi) accidentally meet and help each other despite their own struggles and impact each other’s lives. My character, who sells groceries in a cart is very well-defined and has a dignified spot in the film. The cart that he pulls is a classic one, but what he’s carrying in it is where the story lies,” tells Kabi, without revealing more.
Kabi, who is also a seasoned stage actor and teacher, recalls how difficult it has been for him to make a mark without any formal training in acting and that’s what has inspired him to build a film and theatre residency. “I had applied to FTII Pune and also NSD in Delhi, but as fate would have it, I couldn’t get in either. Now that I have gained a foothold in the industry, I will work towards building an acting school,” says Kabi.
Besides Raahgir, Kabi, who has been also seen in hit web series like Sacred Games, has two more film releases — Saif Ali Khan starrer Laal Kaptaan and Rohit Batra’s Line of Descent starring Abhay Deol and Ronit Roy. “I have four more web series including Jamuna Paar on Amazon Prime, Taj Mahal for Viacom, Sacred Games 2 and Strike Back. However, I want to concentrate more on theatre now,” concludes Kabi.