In Imtiaz Ali’s Jab We Met he had only one sequence as a railway-platform lecher who harasses Kareena Kapoor Khan. But Asif Basra owned that sequence as he owned everything that the film industry allowed him to own. Shockingly underused, Asif was embittered by the lack of opportunities.
Filmmaker Rahul Dholakia who worked with Asif Basra in three films can’t believe he’s gone. “He was very jovial, extremely hard working, a face and personality that could easily fit into any role. I have directed him in 3 films. I think he was fabulous in my directorial debut Parzania. He had to play a layered role and did so effortlessly.”
Rahul remembers Asif as a fun person. “He was easygoing, rode bikes. But I had no idea he was troubled. I heard he lived with his mother and I am so sorry for her. It’s heartbreaking. Also, we can’t and shouldn’t judge anyone. We don’t know what they’ve gone through. I just hope I knew about this and could have done something. Will miss him.” ALSO READ: Asif Basra Dies By Suicide: Kai Po Che, Jab We Met, Black Friday And More- Prolific Movies He Was A Part Of
Rahul Dholakia agrees to the Hindi film industry under-utilized Asif. “It’s not his loss but the loss of filmmakers. He was around for a long time, did some quality work, was very easy to get along with, not pushy at all, straightforward and positive. So I cast him in almost every film. We did not socialize much, mainly because I don’t socialize or go to parties. But he was a good man He was so good in Parzania. My favourite scene is with him and Naseer at the theatre. He plays a pimp who has a change of heart. Some intense scenes he had. He was outstanding in the audition itself. And then he only excelled !! Asif was like Sheeba Chaddha. Both fit in beautifully in any film any role. It’s very sad he had to end it this way. Wish I was more in touch with him. Unfortunately, this industry doesn’t give us much time to meet beyond work.” ALSO READ: Asif Basra Dies By Suicide: Kareena Kapoor Khan, Anushka Sharma Hansal Mehta, Emraan Hashmi, And Others Express Grief
Speaking of auditions, casting-director and actor Abhishek Bannerjee recalls how upset Asif would get when he had to audition for a role. “I used to call him for auditions. Ek do baar daanta bhi unhone (he scolded me a couple of times). But that's ok from a senior. Senior actors sometimes don't like to come for auditions. I was very junior to him. But he had a warm side to him and that’s why he would end up coming for the auditions despite being so senior and so talented. I have known Asif sir for many years and was fortunate enough to cast him in various projects like Once Upon A Time In Mumbai, Knock Out, Pataal Lok. He was a great actor and a kind human. A thorough professional. A really sad loss for all of us. I think he was one of the few actors whom you always remember after a performance. You can't miss him. He had a stronghold of three languages Hindi, English and Urdu. He deserved a lot more.”
Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri was one of the last to cast Asif in The Tashkent files. Vivek recalls, “Why just Tashkent Files? I was also one of the first! His first work was with me. I remember he had just come from Amravati to be an actor and my friend Rajesh Khera introduced us. After that Asif worked in almost every episode of my every serial, Saturday Suspense, X Zone, Rishte, Gubbare, nearly all my tv work. He had no qualms playing anything. No tantrums, no fuss.”
Vivek had a personal rapport with Asif. “He was my friend. He came home regularly to party with us. The last time we met it was for the 100-day celebration of The Tashkent Files. Now suddenly I hear he’s gone! He was pretty upbeat about getting some international projects and spending time in McLeod Ganj in Dharamsala. I thought he was cool in life. But then one never knows what goes in a person’s mind.”
Vivek reveals that Asif Basra was embittered by the treatment meted out to him by mainstream Bollywood. “Asif was a shy guy. He never spoke about his personal life. Very often I’d ask him if he was seeing someone and he’d just smile. Asif was pissed off with the way Bollywood treats real actors. I can say with confidence he was very upset with the way the industry runs after stars. Actors like Asif don’t get basic respect on the sets. We used to talk about this a lot. This question of hierarchy in the film industry bothers me a lot. I had promised Asif he would be in all my films in the Files series. But God had other plans. I’ll miss him.”
Actor-director Ananth Mahadevan who had worked closely with Asif Basra says, “We did plays together. Yours Mine and Ours were one of the big hits. It was a political and media satire. We met occasionally. I thought he got grey hair too soon. He was still young and raring to go. The disturbing factor is that even intelligent, thinking people like him seem to harbour untold, unseen grief that pushes them to the brink. Shakes our confidence in the bargain!”
Director Manoj Tiwari who was one of the last to cast Asif Basra in P Se Pyar F Se Faraar says, “He was an amazing person along with being a wonderful actor, he could fit into the skin of any character. I was planning to work with him again in my next project. He used to get along with everyone on the set so well. I never imagined he could be in a depression.”
Sameer Nair, CEO of Applause Entertainment worked with Asif in the OTT series Hostages is bewildered by the tragedy. “Why would he end his life? He’s in another show of ours that’s releasing soon Virkar vs The Anti-Social Network starring beside him, Prateik Babbar, Ashish Vidyarthi, Simran Kaur Mundi, etc. I didn’t know Asif personally. But what little we interacted on both Hostages and Virkar, he was a happy and jovial personality, with a wonderfully self-deprecating sense of humour. A fine actor and a great loss to our pantheon of actors.”
Nawazuddin Siddiqui has the last word on Asif Basra. “ It’s shocking for me to hear he’s gone. He was so calm and cool, such a positive person with a great understanding of life. And so talented. After Sushant, another very gifted actor gone.”
Image Source: Instagram/vivekagnihotri/asiftheactor, indiawest
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