How would one describe Ramesh Deo?
An actor who's made a name for himself in Marathi and Hindi cinema, as well as Marathi theatre. A producer and director of Marathi films and TV serials. A versatile and multi-talented artiste — that is how one would describe Ramesh Deo.
The actor who was seen in films as recent as Jolly LLB (2013) turns 90 today, January 30, and we're taking a moment to remember him.
Deo is extremely passionate about his work and even today, one comes across him in TV commercials. A fine, dignified, sensitive man who has aged gracefully and emerged as a noteworthy actor since the early sixties — he was contemporary to Dilip Kumar — in the Hindi film industry.
Deo never had success as a hero in Hindi films like he did in Marathi cinema. However, his long innings as a character actor in Hindi cinema reminds us of the careers of veteran actors like Pran, Madan Puri, Iftekhar and Satyen Kappu.
His wife, Seema Deo, has been a wonderful partner, both off and on screen. They have appeared as lovers or as a married couple in many Marathi and Hindi films — but their most remembered performance till date is the one in the Rajesh Khanna-starrer, Hrishikesh Mukherjee-directed Anand (1971).
The mega-hit Anand gave Deo the recognition he deserved. (Source: YouTube screengrab)
Ramesh Deo played the role of Dr Prakash Kulkarni and Seema played his wife, Suman. As a young Maharashtrian couple, it was almost an extension of their real life. Their involvement in the life of Anand Saigal, Rajesh Khanna, especially in the last phase, adds to the deep emotional connect the classic still has with the audience.
We see them in the song Maine Tere Liye Hi, picturised on Anand at the piano — one of the best scenes in the film.
Anand gave them the recognition these two actors deserved.
As far as Ramesh Deo’s contribution to cinema goes, he has always played his roles unassumingly, quietly and to perfection. His endearing smile that lights up his entire face can easily turn into an intimidating one in a negative role. When it comes to playing positive or negative roles with equal finesse, Ramesh Deo can be easily compared to the likes of Pran and Madan Puri.
In his career spanning over six decades, Deo has worked with generations of male and female actors. He has almost 300 Hindi films, 190 Marathi films and 30 Marathi plays to his credit.
His first Hindi film, Aarti (1962), a Rajshri Production, saw him in the quintessential role of the hero's — Pradeep Kumar — brother, Niranjan.
Alternating between good and evil characters helped Deo escape being typecast. (Source: YouTube screengrab)
Jeevan Mrityu (1970), another Rajshri Production, saw him in a negative role — one of his best — as a corrupt and greedy barrister.
In a scene when he gets to know that the shares he had bought have crashed at the market and he has nothing left, Deo's portrayal of shock, where he runs out into the road and is killed by a speeding vehicle, is etched in our memory.
His roles in Teen Bahuraniyan and Khilona are also memorable.
Perhaps alternating between good and evil characters helped Deo escape being typecast.
It is remarkable that in spite of being a theatre actor, he could underplay some of his screen roles and establish himself as a natural actor.
In Jolly LLB (2013), his role as Kaul Sa’ab was admired greatly by today’s audiences. Some of his other films include Ghayal Once Again, Saraswati Chandra, Dus Lakh, Aaj Ka Mahatma, Kasauti, 36 Ghate, Sabak and Bansi Birju.
Whether as a star of Marathi cinema and stage, or as a character actor in Hindi films, Ramesh Deo worked hard all his life to remain consistently good, perfecting his art down the years — something that is inspiring to a younger generation.
On his 90th birthday, here’s wishing him many more!