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Last Updated : May 12, 2019 05:45 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Anil Kapoor, Suniel Shetty, Emraan Hashmi, Jimmy Sheirgill fondly remember the ‘Guru of Method Acting’, Roshan Taneja

During his stint in FTII and then his own school, he taught many actors who are considered seasoned today. These were Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, late Om Puri, Jaya Bhaduri and Anil Kapoor to name a few.

Joginder Tuteja @tutejajoginder
Roshan Taneja (Image: Twitter/ @AnilKapoor)
Roshan Taneja (Image: Twitter/ @AnilKapoor)

On Friday night, Roshan Taneja - a popular name in the Hindi film industry circles - passed away. He was 87, and for the last three months, was suffering from pancreatic cancer. For someone who lived his life to the fullest without any regrets and laid the foundation for many a career in Bollywood, Roshan Taneja was known for his immense patience, yet demanding persona, when it came to teaching acting to quite a few hopefuls who came to his renowned school Roshan Taneja School of Acting during last four decades.

Says Jimmy Sheirgill, who enrolled himself in the school back in 1993 before he bagged Gulzar’s Maachis, “I was quite new when I came to Mumbai and at that time there were just 2-3 acting schools. I remember walking into Roshan Taneja’s office back in 1993. He called me home and asked me to read a few pages in Hindi as well as English to gauge if I had command over the language. He pronto roped me in and I started attending classes.”

Not many are aware though that Roshan Taneja wanted to be an actor himself but fate had other plans for him. Instead of being in front of the camera, he found himself teaching others on how to give their best when the camera started rolling.

An insider said, “It was disappointing for him when he couldn’t get into acting himself. However, instead of being bogged down by it, he channelised his energy into teaching. He was trained in American acting schools and leveraged that to teach in the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) at Pune during the 60s. Later in the 70s, he found his own acting school, Roshan Taneja School of Acting, though it was was not an easy road either. Back then, there were no formal acting schools in Bombay and Roshan Taneja pioneered this trend.”

During his stint in FTII and then his own school, he taught many actors who are considered seasoned today. These were Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, late Om Puri, Jaya Bhaduri and Anil  Kapoor to name a few.

“Roshan Taneja saab was the vanguard of method acting in India. Not only was he a phenomenal teacher, he was also a great human being. Everyone who crossed his path would automatically love, admire and respect him. For me, he will always be the greatest acting teacher in India,” fondly remembers Anil Kapoor.

Such was the kind of connect that he built with his students that they felt at home interacting with him. He was quite clear about what he wanted his students to deliver, and the message was delivered with love and affection, instead of him applying an authoritative style.

“During my first few days, I was apprehensive as there were students who were performing far better than me. At one point in time, I even thought of going back home. But, he motivated me to hang in there and work on my craft. Soon, I was one of his favourites and he gave me an opportunity to help other students as well. Even when I got Maachis, Gulzar saab, as well as Taneja saab, suggested that I continue with the classes in between as that would only hone my craft,” adds Shergill.

In the span of the last 50 years, dozens of his students have made it big in the industry – both in the world of films as well as television serials. Moreover, the success stories are not restricted to only star kids like Ranbir Kapoor or Sonam Kapoor, who tutored under him, but also outsiders like Emraan Hashmi who had to start from scratch.

“He was a great teacher who was extremely patient, had immense foresight and would push you just enough to unleash your creative force. I loved every minute of my course with him”, recollects Emraan who started his career with Footpath and then delivered successes with the likes of Murder and Jannat to name a few.

Roshan Taneja continued to keep his flag high as a coach, guide, mentor and a guru, with his acting school continuing to gain prominence year after year. Though he himself stopped teaching actively in the last few years, handing over the baton to his son, he was well abreast of what was happening in the world of acting.

Shergill remembers, “I met him a few years back as I had gone to his school for a guest lecture. Even though he seemed weak, he was lively and encouraging as ever. I am indebted to him as he laid down the basic foundation for me. I may well have gone back to my hometown if not for his support and motivation during my initial years.”

Today, there are quite a few acting schools that have mushroomed in Mumbai and a few are also actually helping students to deliver and find a  breakthrough in films, television and digital arena. However, the revolution around method acting, that Roshan Taneja has kickstarted, is a template that many are following till date. Moreover, his legacy is being remembered quite fondly for not just the qualities that he brought to the fore as a guru but also the inherent persona that he carried.

Says Suniel Shetty, “First of all, he was one of the kindest souls you would ever meet. He was a very humble human being. He had all the patience in the world. He made everyone feel special. I always had a one-on-one interaction with him. He was not just a teacher, but a genuine guru. So rest in peace, sir.”

(Joginder Tuteja is a trade expert and film critic, and loves to talk and write about anything that is related to films. Views are personal)
First Published on May 12, 2019 03:07 pm
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