Satish Shah has proved his acting skills on both the big and small screens. His entry into the entertainment world, however, was not without difficulty. The Sarabhai versus Sarabhai actor talked out about his struggles to get projects on Komal Nahta’s celebrity chat show Aur Ek Kahani. Satish had graduated from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), but it didn’t help him get a job in the film industry.
He shared, “When I would say that I have come from the institute, I would get a bit of respect, but that’s about it. There was no other advantage whatsoever. It was a time when actors would be selected after their black and white pictures were seen, and that wouldn’t work for me as I was not that good looking. They wouldn’t think that I am the new Shammi Kapoor, and I was aware of it. I had not come to become a hero.”
He went on to say, “The things that have occurred to me, I relate with a laugh.” I went to the office of a producer. Famous Studios (in Mahalakshmi, Mumbai) was a haven for filmmakers back then. Once you reach there, you could easily meet 10-15 producers, that is if you are allowed to go inside in the first place. One producer I met there was quite impressed that I was from the film institute. He asked me if I had studied film direction, editing, etc, and was shocked when I said that I was an actor. So he asked me to leave my picture with him, and that he would call me when there is a role. But in those days, pictures were expensive, so I didn’t leave my picture with him. I told him I’ll send it over to him later. I was sure that he would never call me, and I’d never have to send him my picture.”
Satish Shah revealed that he attempted a variety of methods to get films, but none of them succeeded. The actor continued to play minor roles till he was cast in Amitabh Bachchan and Dilip Kumar’s Shakti (1982), which gave him his first taste of stardom.
The 69-year-old is arguably best remembered for his appearance in the Doordarshan program Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi (1984), directed by Kundan Shah and Manjul Sinha.
He said the series “actually changed my life, and there has been no looking back since. There was a trail of films after that. The funny part is, in those days producers and directors used to think that if an actor doesn’t have dates, they are a hit. The more films you signed, the bigger the star you were. I would find it very funny that they ran behind stars who didn’t have dates and not those who were available.”
On the chat show, Satish Shah also talked about one of his most popular small screen roles – Indravardhan in Sarabhai vs Sarabhai. He said, “Our personality is very similar. So, when Aatish and JD came to me with the role, and I was listening to them as they narrated the character to me, and I was like they are talking about me to me! So when I was able to do it well, people really thought that I had internalised it, but it was the other way around. We enjoyed shooting for this serial so much, that people enjoyed us enjoying it, and we got paid for it.”