Happy Holi, bro’ — I didn’t know that this would be Satish ji’s last message to me. Much like the character of Calendar that he played in the hit film of the 1980s, Mr India, Satish Kaushik was no different in real life; he exuded love that brought joy beyond measure. With a heart that cared and a smile that brought out so much happiness in others, Satish was loved by millions who knew him, on or off screen.
Starting off as an assistant director with Shekhar Kapoor in Masoom (1983), he took a giant leap into directing the most expensive film of its time, Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja (1993) which tanked without a trace but that did not deter him from directing Salman Khan a decade later in Tere Naam (2003), whose huge success propelled him further into stardom.
An alumnus of Delhi’s Kirori Mal College, he took to theatre before going to the National School of Drama and the Film and Television Institute of India to fulfil his dream of becoming an actor. It was his inimitable style that made the characters he played etched in the minds of his audiences, be it Calendar, Pappu Pager in Deewana Mastana or Mutthu Swamy in Saajan Chale Sasural, apart from a host of other iconic roles that made him a truly versatile entertainer.
To the people who knew him well, he was very much the boy from Karol Bagh, central Delhi’s popular food and shopping destination. His zest for life, passion for cinema and love for the arts, coupled with his great sense of humour and a helping disposition, made him a great human being.
‘Yaar hum dono Dilli ki shaan hai’ (referring to us both becoming a part of the film industry on our own merit), he would often say. He loved food: ‘Butter chicken khila’, he told me a few months back when we were together in Delhi; and then we enjoyed a relaxed Sunday brunch. But what I clearly remember from that afternoon was him calling out to the chef and getting clicked with him and the entire staff of the restaurant. Such was the man… good-hearted, compassionate and affable.
The last time we spoke, a few days ago, he was radiating with energy. He was line-producing a few films for Salman Khan’s production company and wanted me to play a role in one of the movies. We were also planning to travel together for film festivals later this year. Alas, that will not happen. But it’s heartwarming to realise that he lived well, realising and nourishing his dreams and becoming much more than he desired — actor, writer, director, producer, and above all, a wonderful human being who felt others’ pain and spread his fragrance, touching the hearts of millions. May he travel well before the angels call out to him, ‘Calendar, khana do!’
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