Category Archives: Neeraja

The Return of Shakuni on Television!

Epic Mahabharata would not have been so intriguing without the character of Shakuni and the MAN who breathed life into Shakuni on small screen was none other than Mr. Gufi Paintal. He is the only Actor who got the priviledge of playing Shakuni once again after a decade in Imagine TV’s new show Dwaarkadeesh.
Rangmunch.TV brings to you an exclusive interview of Gufi Paintal who talked about Shakuni Mama as a character and his journey in the Entertainment Industry.
Rangmunch.TV: You have played the character of Shakuni for the longest period of time, first in ‘Mahabharat’ and now in ‘Dwarakadheesh’ in Imagine TV. How would you explain the psyche of Shakuni?
Gufi Paintal:Shakuni’s psyche was simple. He thought that the marriage of his sister was unlawful and very much one sided. He was very upset with why his sister was not getting her rightful place in Dhritarashtra’s life. That’s the time he took an oath to destroy the kingdom and all the princes associated with it. He may have been a pure hearted guy before all this but seeing his sister’s condition, he became a person filled with poison and wanted to avenge the wrong doing .
Rangmunch.TV: So Shakuni was a man of vision who saw to it that all his intentions came through?
Gufi Paintal: Yes, because he was a very shrewd politician of his kind. On the fundamental side was Shakuni and on the positive side was Krishna. The fight was between these two politicians.
Rangmunch.TV: Why did you choose to come back on the small screen with a mythological show considering there is so much variety now?
Gufi Paintal: Well, I have played several fictional characters too, but people’s perception of Shakuni has not changed over the years. My counterparts never got this role because of certain image the character has maintained. You can’t get Arjun, Ram or Krishna of those times to play their roles again, because of the youth factor. But Shakuni is one who has stayed the same from the period of Mahabharat days. So when I was offered the character that is so close to my heart and has given me so much name and fame, I instantly agreed.
Rangmunch.TV: Has there been any improvisation to the character this time around ?
Gufi Paintal: No, you cannot change something that is part of Indian Mythology. You also cannot change the character drastically too. You can improve but cannot prove it. You cannot go away from the character. One may have tried to in past but it falls flat.
Rangmunch.TV: How easier was it to play this character so convincingly for the second time?
Gufi Paintal: Basically I have been constantly in touch with this character for the last 20 years. Whereever I go, I am called Shakuni Mama. You get recognized for such a pivotal character. Rather in the year 1993, I was  also  slated the best actor among  13 others in the world in Cannes festival. I always feel proud of the fact that my job was appreciated.
Rangmunch.TV: How do you deal with the situation where you are not too convinced about a scene given to you?
Gufi Paintal: Ideally I would discuss and would try to convince the director. I would say that the scene should be done this way, and the director would understand, as I have done the bit before. People respect my vision, my outlook.  In spite of the generation gap there is immense understanding.
Rangmunch.TV: In today’s world where villains and vamps are practically there in every show, what role does a Shakuni play in today’s time?
Gufi Paintal: Let me tell you something. Amjad khan became hugely popular after his role as Gabbar Singh in Sholay. There after  he went on to do 100 movies. When he died, the news said “Gabbar Singh died”. Similarly Shakuni is such a character where he will be remembered all the time. So if papers one day come out and say Shakuni died, its going to be a privelege to be in that zone.
Rangmunch.TV: Shakuni has always been driven by a motive. Today’s vamps and villains are just becoming a negative character for flimsy reasons. What according to you is the impact of Shakuni in ‘Dwarkadheesh’?
Gufi Paintal: The story has lot of shades for Shakuni to exhibit. Its definitely on a larger scale this time. So, it is a new experience for me too this time around.
Rangmunch.TV: You have also been associated with direction. What do you think  has changed over the last few years with so many different kinds of shows on Television now ?
Gufi Paintal: The story telling has deeply changed from then to now. Back then, we used get enough time to relate to the character and it used to take 4 days to shoot an episode. But that is not the case now. People take less time and are moving fast to depict something. They should take more time especially when it concerns an epic.
Rangmunch.TV: If given a choice, would you prefer to make a movie or a Television show and why ?
Gufi Paintal: I have directed a lot of Television shows and cinema being the mother of all. I would love to direct a movie. In one go, you shoot from start to finish as you are totally involved in the subject aur ek do mahine mein aap ko result dikh jaata hai..So, if given an option, I would want to direct a movie.
Rangmunch.TV: Why is that people still don’t give Television the due place it deserves? Technically things have improved but still there is that doubt in peoples mind. Do you agree?
Gufi Paintal: No, I don’t think so. Television is become a multicrore business and maybe bigger than film industry too. The very fact that big stars like Shah rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, and Salman Khan have stepped into the Television world says it all. Small screen has its own parameters and has got its respectful place.
Rangmunch.TV: What advice would you give the new aspiring actors who want to enter this industry?
Gufi Paintal: I would say more than your talent or hard work, its your destiny that makes  way for you here. Its one’s fate that brings you here. I was also talented but it took me quite a while to get where I am and get variety of roles. So the timing has to be right too. Hard work, talent, personality are all fine but it’s your destiny that plays a strong role here.
Rangmunch.TV: One message for your fans?
Gufi Paintal: I want to thank all my fans for all the love and support they have given me. I want them to continue giving me the respect they have always given and I would like to leave this world in my shoes. Inspite of playing the negative character, I have always been given immense respect. Its like they love to hate me, (laughs). I have done various sympathetic and emotional roles too and people have been watching me and appreciating it. I just want to do my job sincerely.
Rangmunch.TV would like to thank Mr. Paintal for giving us his time and an insight into the character of Shakuni.
Interviewed by:
Niharika Vidya Sagar
Edited by:
Navyanka Varma
Neeraja Unni

International Segment: Recommends Humsafar! Episode # 7 update

Love is in the Air!!
Love is a simple emotion – pure, beautiful, and wholesome. It is the small everyday things that one does for each other that makes loving someone as effortless and natural as breathing. Ashar and Khirad’s marriage may have begun on a sour note but it is their inherent honesty that compels them to discover each other and build a future together with love as a foundation.
‘The hardest thing to do is watch the one you love, love someone else’
There is nothing more painful than to watch the person you love so deeply, in turn falling in love with someone else right in front you. There are some who lock themselves up and give in to the feeling of having lost, and there are others who refuse to give in to the feeling of utter helplessness and do everything in their power to win back their love. Sara belongs to the latter and sees it beneath herself to even accept the fact that Ashar is moving ahead without her. Casting insults at Khirad in a veiled manner under the guise of her outspokenness is one way of ensuring she gets ‘her Ashar’ back.
But did she ever have him in the first place? Its evident she never did. Since love is blind and in her case, even deaf, Sara shows no signs of relenting easily.
Rangmunch Moment of the Episode: Declaration of Love!
‘Main Ashar se Bepanah mohabbat karne lagi hoon’

Can this feeling of realization that you have fallen in love, deeply, sincerely, and irrevocably with someone, be ever adequately explained in words? I think not. This is something that needs to be felt.
And feel we do, in this very scene where more than mere words are exchanged between Ashar and Khirad. Khirad glows with the knowledge and power of love while Ashar sits down beside her to complete the canvas that is created on screen. A thousand words are spoken between them with their eyes while just a few choicest of them pass their lips. Two people come together as strangers who don’t believe in ‘us’ and slowly, with patience, understanding, and the virtue of being themselves, find a way into each others hearts.
On a personal note, this is one of the best declarations of love I have ever seen – A simple sketch of love in its purest form!
Rangmunch Performance of the Episode: Dialogues!
Watch the episode and you will know why the dialogues without an iota of doubt walk away with the Rangmunch Performance of the Episode tag.
The dialogues have become the soul of the scenes in this episode. For the first time in many moons, I was going back and forth to drink in the words. Here are few of them you carry in your heart and mind, well into the night to snuggle with, after watching this episode.

* “Kabhi kabaar mujhe lagta hai jaise tum mujhe kisi neki ke badle mil gayi ho, kisi sachchi dil se nikli dua ke badle” ~ Ashar admits to Khirad that he is very lucky to have her in his life.
* “Mrs. Ashar Hussain, aap jo marzi karle aap hamesha khoobsurat lagti hain” Seeing Khirad blush at his praise, he teases her further by saying, “Ab agar aapne sharmaliya to chalen”.
* “Tum bahut achchi lag rahi thi Khirad, balki itni achchi lag rahi thi ki mujhe dar lag raha tha ki meri hi nazar na lag jaaye” Ashar reassures Khirad when she doubts her choice of dress for Sara’s birthday party.
* “Main Ashar se bepanah mohabbat karne lagi hoon. Mera dil karta hain ki main poori ki poori Ashar ki pasand ke saanche mein dhal javoon. Jo Ashar ko pasand hain woh apna loon, jo unhe na pasand hai woh hamesha keliya chod doon” ~ Khirad writes about her feelings for Ashar to her best friend Afsheen. 

* “Aur ye nahi bataya apni dost ko ki tum mujshe kitni mohabbat karti ho. Ke jab main koi bhi kaam kar raha hota hoon, tum mujhe tiktiki baandke dekhti rehti ho aur jab  main tumhe dekhta hoon tum aankhon mein aankhe daal ke nahi dekhti ho jaise ki abhi” ~ Ashar to Khirad
*Main itna khush hoon ki khushi ka lavz mere liye chota padta hain” ~ Ashar on how happy he is with her. 

* “Lekin woh (Khirad) jaise bhi hai woh mere liye bahut eham hai” ~ Ashar reinforces Khirad’s importance in his life to Sara. 

* “Khirad, tum mere liye bahut khaas ho. Kabhi bhi apne aap ko kamtar mat samajhna, warna mujhe lagega ki mere pyaar mein koi kami reh gayi” ~ Ashar repeatedly reassures Khirad of his unconditional love for her with these heartening words. 
 A Special Mention: Director’s Vision!
An episode where dialogues took center stage, there is a particular scene devoid of words that need a special mention. This scene of 30 seconds has redefined the word ‘drama’ for me. After her birthday party in which Sara goes all out to be rude to Khirad in front of her friends, she is shown standing in front of a mirror, retiring for the night. The expressions on Sara’s face clearly underline what she is feeling – a feeling of triumph of having put her tormentor in place all by herself. Watch out for her body language that reeks of achievement and sense of pride in herself for doing what she did. Kudos to the director for placing that scene in the sequence, which effectively and seamlessly lifts the narrative a few notches higher. Naveen Waqar needs an ovation for this scene.
Precap for Episode # 8:

One can smell jealousy in this one and half-minute preview of episode 8. Khirad is seen entering a college for her higher education where she meets someone named Khizar. We will have to wait a wee bit longer to know who Khizar is and why is he seen at Ashar’s home. Is there going to be trouble in paradise?

You can find the links for this episode @

Do you have your favourite scene of this episode? Please feel free to share it with us. And which of the above dialogues still remain with you well after you have watched the episode?
More on Humsafar @

Neeraja Unni

SUNDEEP SHARMA! – The Man who packs a punch in the Show and off it!



Sundeep Sharma

In an industry where diplomacy is considered a virtue and sugar-coating becomes a necessity, Sundeep Sharma comes out to call a spade, just that – A SPADE!!

In an Industry where actors reign supreme and glamour is all we get to see, the Ace Director of Insanely Popular Star One show, Geet Hui Sabse Parayi, forces you to do a rethink and acknowledge the grim reality behind the making of some of our favourite shows.

Sundeep speaks about his experience of being in front of the Camera as an Actor as well as behind the camera as a Director. His honest and straightforward response not only grips our attention but also gives an insight into him as a person. He is a Man who speaks from his heart, which is quite evident from his ‘no-holds-barred’ responses to our queries. Read on….

Rangmunch: You have been an Actor and now are a Director. What is more challenging to you?

Sundeep Sharma: Both are challenging in their own ways. On camera, it’s your face that works and one should not end up looking fake. The challenge is to show the feelings in the most realistic manner through your expressions. Behind the camera, it is the co-ordination of the Director and the crew of 40 people working with him. My concern then ranges from a Spot boy to an Actor. If both are not happy with the way things go then it is my job to make them comfortable. If any scene requires changes, I don’t instantly change it. I consult my DOP( Director of Photography) and get another feedback. I work towards making my scenes easier and comfortable for my actors to perform.

Rangmunch: Do you enjoy direction more?

Sundeep Sharma: Well, it not that. If you seen how an actor is treated, then you would know the importance. He gets a spot boy attending to him the minute he gets off his car. He is given a make up room, ready-made lines to say and best dresses. If some thing falls on to your outfit at home, no one will bother but here you will have 4 people running to get things right for you. You have the best given to you. Your job entails delivering a good shot with honesty. So acting is not difficult if you know your job.

Direction is tougher where each frame has to be worked on, be it a close up or a wide shot. His co-ordination with 40 people is very important. You may have a personal problem but director has to put that away because har haal mein episode toh jaana hi hai .

Rangmunch: What is the first that comes to your mind when you get up in the morning and the last thing on your mind when you go to bed?

Sundeep Sharma: Frankly speaking, as a Director, when I get up in the morning I  can only think of how much work has to be done on that particular day. The last thing I think of is how it is all finally done, how it could have been better and then I think of ways to make it even better the next day. Sometimes you plan something else but due to unavailability of an artist or other such problems, things are executed differently. We still try to do our best under such circumstances.

Rangmunch: How do you deal with a situation wherein a certain scene is planned and all the groundwork is laid, but for some reason things don’t work out?

Sundeep Sharma: We alter the framework according to the situation and make the required changes. We then speak to the writers and work on the new track.

Rangmunch: You were initially associated with Geet and then you left. Did you watch the show during that time and since you have come back, did you get the necessary briefing about the show?

Sundeep Sharma: I don’t like to watch much of Television when I am at home. I just shuffle Channels here and there. And yes, I was given a briefing about the show. I believe the characters have to be right, story keeps changing every now and then in a daily soap. For me, what you are shooting today matters. If the content is right and the final product is good, then achieving your goal becomes easier.

Rangmunch: There are times when in absence of the leads you have to make do with the body doubles and other characters in the show. Being a Director how do you cope with such pressure?

Sundeep Sharma: For me, there is no pressure when it comes to shooting the scene. It doesn’t make a difference if the leads are present or not. An Episode has to be shot with co-actors and the story has to go on. Only when it comes to the body doubles, it gets slightly tricky as I feel it takes away the essence of a scene. We have to maintain that mood very effectively through shots since we don’t have much variety to show as you would with the actors. We have to make do with angles and back shots.

Rangmunch: You were associated with the good part of Geet initially but now there is a lot of criticism that Geet is going nowhere and that there is no story left? Do you feel that the show can still be redeemed?

Sundeep Sharma: Honestly speaking, No! For me the story finished when Geet got married to Maan and much before that the drama got over when Geet comes to Delhi and her connection with Maan started. Dev came in as a good twist and the whole drama re-started which was good. But then it had to drag after that phase, kyuki story mein kuch bachaa he nahi tha. Uss mudde ko agar waha tak rakhtey, toh bohot interesting hota par ab toh hit and run waali cheez hai .

Rangmunch: The show only had Nayantara as a negative character but after she left there is nothing negative now. Do you think having a negative character is essential as it challenges the leads?

Sundeep Sharma: Story has to move on. If you pick a novel or a book, you have a start and a finish to it. But in daily soaps what is shown in the first episode gets over by the 10th episode. Some other track is shown next. There is no story in that. Then the debate of many creative meetings, production house meetings start taking place with TRPs  being the main concern. The story by then is diluted and what was meant to show is lost somewhere. Negative and positive character just becomes a ploy to move the story forward. Its show business at the end of the day. The face sells, even if the acting is zilch. I have personally seen this and faced this.

Rangmunch: How do you cope with a situation where you are not convinced with the script you have in hand?

Sundeep Sharma: Normally in an ideal scenario, one would discuss this with the writers, but in a daily soap the Director doesn’t get a chance to interact with the writers or other members of the show. We only interact with the Creatives. If a scene is workable and changes can be made then good or else I work with whatever is given to me. You can’t stop a scene because you don’t like it, since something has to go on air for that particular day.

Rangmunch: As a Director, when do you think is a good time to wind up a show? 

Sundeep Sharma: Its like if there is a seed, try to extract the juice as much as you can, as long as you can. But the day there is nothing to do and one loses interest, either quit or shut the show if you have the power to do so. Take MJHT, what the initial story was 3 years back was not there at all during the end. 5 days of shooting used to bring comic relief as it was good in the beginning. But when the story telling got over then it became a slow unenjoyable process. 

Rangmunch: How do you deal with a situation where you see an actor throwing tantrums, and co-actors around him as well as the scene getting affected by it?

Sundeep Sharma: From the time a person comes onto a set, one needs to be professional. When you are called for a shot, it is your duty to come and take your position but the problem arises when that does not happen. Coming from the make up room, sau cheezein hongi (There are hundreds of issues). You end up cracking jokes with your friends, your phones never stop ringing, then you end up getting distracted. Actors today think that with a little popularity they can manage things around them. Thoda dhyaan bat jaata hai (attention is divided). 

I have been an actor too, and I realize that the discipline back then was immense. No one from the Production House ever dared to say anything to an actor, but now the lowest guy from the unit can come and say anything about an actor. Today with little recognition and popularity that the actors have, and success going to their head it does get problematic at times. That’s why though I am a director I explain what I think from their point of view as I have been there too. If he or she understands, well and good, otherwise “jitney din ke chandni hai, utne din he jagmagao gey” (You would shine as long as there is light)

In the 90’s, when Vinod Mehra ji was working with Mahesh Bhatt, I was then working with them in the show Imtihaan. I was told “Sandeep any one can be an actor, but if that person is disciplined, controlled and good with his craft, he will work for life.” Vinod Mehra ji was a good actor and worked till his last breath. The same is spoken for Avtaar Gill. Mahesh Bhatt ki koi bhi film ho, Avtaar Gill rahega he rahega.

I would also say that phone ek badkismati hai, ki logon ke paas ab waqt he nahi hai apne kaam ke liye. They don’t have anything to say to Directors other than technique. There is so much more involved in a shot. There is no personal interaction with the actors. Sab kuch ek saath hota tha. Ab who cheez nahi hai. Whatever you have learnt you have to impart that too. That is life.” jo paaya hai , woh aapko dena bhi hai”. I do keep a good relation with my assistants and do what was taught to me back then. I am a friend to all my colleagues on the set.

Rangmunch: Have you ever become so involved in your work that you have not been able to differentiate between real and reel life? How do you then break away from it?

Sundeep Sharma: Yes, it has happened with me loads of time as both an actor as well as a Director. Its not that I get so carried away that it becomes impossible to snap out, but yes for few minutes reel life does become real. Some times when a scene touches you so deeply, it becomes difficult to disconnect. It is at times like these that some good music while driving back home or just staring out of the window and observing different stuff helps you disengage. 


Rangmunch: What problems do you face as a Director when a character grows bigger than the story?

Sundeep Sharma: It is good when a character grows bigger than the story. But the problem arises when instead of the character; an actor becomes bigger than everything else.

In epics such as Ramayan and Mahabharat, the characters were shown as larger than life. In recent remakes of Ramayan and Mahabharat the impact is not as much as the original epics. When you think of Ram, only Arun Govil comes to mind. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, if you venture into the interiors of any city, you would see pictures of Arun and Deepika as Ram and Sita. So basically, actors should take care of their limitations and thinking.

Take GEET for instance. The character is in the name itself. Now, when an actor starts acting high and mighty and begins to deviate from the character, then it becomes difficult to place them accordingly in the frame. There would be no problem if the actor performs the character.

Rangmunch: Why is it that a show is known through the main leads and less importance is given to people who work behind the camera and equally contribute towards its success?

Sundeep Sharma: (Smiles) “Yeh toh dhoop chao waala khel hai. Dhoop aati hai, toh sab chamakne lagta hai, aur jaise he chao aati hai wohi cheeez dull ho jaati hai”. Actors are known for their length and popularity. You cannot have another Tulsi, because that show ran the longest. But sorry to say Geet ko saal bhar ke baad bhi koi zyaada yaad nahi karega. If 8 shows run daily for 6 days, we will have 48 shows altogether. How many will you remember? If you see them daily, you will remember them but now a days practically everyday you have new shows coming up on various channels, so it becomes difficult. That way I have immense respect for Farah khan as she gives her crew the desired place on the screen every time. Hats off to her!! The difference between a movie and serial is if you do one good movie, you will be remembered for good, but in serials, it is a long process. Out of sight out of mind waali cheez hai.

Rangmunch: How do you react to harsh comments from your colleagues with respect to your work?

Sundeep Sharma: Positively. If any criticism comes from an outsider or a stranger, it is always taken in good spirit. But, if criticism comes from the Production House in relation to a scene, then that is definitely debatable. At the end of the day, footage of a scene matters from the Production House’s perspective.

Rangmunch: Would you correct a person who makes the same mistake you did during your formative years in this industry?

Sundeep Sharma: I would 100% correct them. I will go and ask that person not to make that mistake.

Rangmunch: If you get a chance to act again, will you take it up?

Sundeep Sharma: I do get offers even now, but I don’t want to do it mostly due to the age factor. I was offered a role in “Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi”. But now, I don’t feel I’m in the game of acting anymore. 

Rangmunch: You have been in this industry for a very long time now. What has this industry taught you?

Sundeep Sharma: My learning is that God has made all of us the same so learn to give and get. Don’t expect that if you get respect, then only you would reciprocate. That is wrong. Always give before receiving.






On behalf of Rangmunch.TV, we would like to thank Sundeep for patiently responding to our questionnaires and obliging us with this wonderful interview. 

Interviewed by:

Swati Ghosh

Niharika Vidya Sagar

Edited by: 

Navyanka Varma

Neeraja Unni


International Segment: Recommends Humsafar! Episode # 6 update


International Segment – ‘Home Improvement’ on Star World India – Twenty years on, the classic still improves homes!


International Segment: Humsafar update (Episode 5) – Icebreaker!!


POPCORN (Salt, Cheese, & Caramel) – “The Three Musketeers” (3D) – All for One, One for all!