Ashutosh Rana became immortal as Lajja Shankar Pandey in Sangharsh Ashutosh Rana broke all records of evilness and cruelty by portraying the dreadful character of a transgender Lajja Shanker Pandey in Mahesh Bhatt’s Sangharsh. In this film he gave a new dimension to villainy sending chill down the spine of viewers by his mere presence on the big screen. Ashutosh Rana credits Mahesh Bhatt, who wrote the traffic character of Lajja Shankar Pandey, a transgender, who kills innocent children and eat their flesh to acquire immortality! Rana also applauds film director Tanuja Chandra for exploring his histrionics to the hilt and letting Rana lose to adapt the character and put his menacing best to make the character as terrible and appalling as possible. Sangharsh thus became one of the milestone characters in Ashutosh Rana’s career and made him immortal. The role fetched him Filmfare Award too!
Played Ravan in Rama Leela during school days Ashutosh Rana, was born in small town Narshinpur in district Gadarwara in Madhya Pradesh in a middle class family. Since the tender age of four years he developed a fascination for acting and would participate in the local Ram Leela in his locality. He would be awestruck by the larger than life character of Ravan and would always opt to play Ravan. He would dream of being India’s top most villains. He was so confident of his ability that he would foretell his friends that someday Indian cinema will witness a handsome and charming villain. Ashutosh Rana joined National School of Drama to sharpen his acting skill After completing his graduation from Dr. Hari Singh Gour University, Ashutosh Rana who had made up his mind to make a career in acting decided to sharpen his skills in acting by joining the renowned National School of Drama (NSD) from Delhi, which has produced several versatile stalwarts like Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Anupam Kher, Irrfan Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui etc. Ashutosh Rana credits his versatility to NSD. He admits before joining NSD he prided himself as a good actor but when he joined NSD his ego evaporated when he came in contact with actors and teachers that were way beyond his dream. It was at NSD he learnt what genuine acting is all about and how to explore a character to make it look real. Ashutosh Rana credits his Guru into making his career in films A staunch devotee of Dev Prabhakar Shastri aka Daddaji, Ashutosh believes his Guru Daddaji has been instrumental in making his career in films. After completing his graduation when Ashutosh sought Daddaji’s permission to pursue acting, it was Daddaji who asked him to first do an acting course from NSD. Later after completing the course when he met Daddaji to seek further direction he advised him to meet filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and do any kind of small role in his film that begins with the letter ‘S’. His guruji assured him that he will make a name in Indian Cinema.
Ashutosh Rana and Renuka Shahane had a simple marriage Ashutosh Rana met actress Renuka Shahane in 1998 at the trial show of Hansal Mehta’s film which could not be completed and released. For Rana it was love at first sight but Shanane took her time as she had a bitter experience in her first marriage. Three years later Rana’s Guruji approved the marriage and the two married on May 25th, 2001 in Damoh in Madhya Pradesh under the guidance of his Guruji. It was a simple marriage minus film celebrities.
Mahesh Bhatt had kicked out Ashutosh Rana from his film set As per the advice of his Guruji, Ashutosh Rana came to Mumbai to meet Mahesh Bhatt. But was meeting Mahesh Bhatt a easy task? Well, of course a big NO! In fact Ashutosh Rana once confided that after many months of struggle when one day, Mahesh Bhatt called him to meet him at his film set he was shamefully disgraced and kicked out from the set by angry Bhatt! The reason was that when Ashutosh Rana reached the film set where Mahesh Bhatt was shooting his film, Rana as per his traditional culture, bend down and touched Mahesh Bhatt’s feet. This angered Bhatt as he hates people touching his feet. So Mahesh Bhatt rebuffed Rana and asked his men to throw him out! But few months later when Rana met Mahesh Bhatt, he again touched Bhatt Sahab’s feet. A surprised Bhatt , asked him despite his anger why did he repeated the same thing that he does not like? To this Rana humbly replied that his family culture and ethics have taught him to always touch the feet of seniors! The reply floored Bhatt and he hugged him. Fortunately Mahesh Bhatt who was making a TV serial Swabhimaan and signed Ashutosh Rana for a contract of 11 episodes. How Ashutosh Rana paved way into Mahesh Bhatt’s heart Initially Ashutosh Rana was signed to play just 11 episode in Swabhimaan but Ashutosh Rana pumped such energy into the character of Tyagi that he won the hearts of viewers and on public demand his role was extended up to 120 episodes!! Elated at the dedication and mastery of Ashutosh Rana, Mahesh Bhatt decided to give him a break in his film. He thus offered him a cameo in his Aamir Khan starring film Ghulam. But Ashutosh was disheartened when Bhatt gave him a minor role in Ghulam. In an interview he lamented that he was quite hurt that Bhatt sahab gave him such a small role despite acknowledging his talent in the TV serial Swabhimaan. But as Rana’s Guruji had advised him not to ignore any role – be it small or bit, hence Rana did Ghulam. In the film he played a freedom fighter. So did Ghulam help Rana? Ghulam opened doors for Dushman Well, yes as it paved way for Ashutosh Rana’s career first lead role in Mahesh Bhatt’s next film Dushman, in which he played the menacing psychopathic postman. When Tanuja Chandra (director of Dushman) and Mahesh Bhatt offered him the lead role of Gukul Pandit, a pervert postman, after being impressed by his cameo in Ghulam, Rana had tears in his eyes as he could not believe for a movement that he was awarded such a pivotal role in the film. Elated at the trust that Mahesh Bhatt showed on him Ashutosh Rana took the role to his heart. He worked day and night on its character and made it much vicious and horrendous that Indian cinema had ever witnessed. The ferocious eyes and his fiery voice made the role more brutal and nasty. He won standing ovation at both Filmfare award and Screen Award ceremony when awarded the best villain Award. Ashutosh Rana did films in many languages After the huge success of Dushman, Ashotosh Rana made a name in Bollywood and did many good roles in films like Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Zilla Ghaziabad, Shabnam Mausi, Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo, LOC: Kargil, Raaz, Zakhm, Brothers. He has done films in over 12 languages. A small list of films in regional cinema is as follow Marathi films Sankasur (2013) Yeda (2013) Tamil films Motta Shiva Ketta Shiva (2017) Tamilselvanum Thaniyar Anjalum (2016) Meaghamann (2014) Vettai (2012) Television Swabhimaan (1995) X-Zone (1998) Waris (1999) Farz (2001) Kaali- Ek Agnipariksha (2010)
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