'His main problem was lack of work opportunities.'
Actor Mahesh Anand, who was found dead in his Mumbai apartment on Saturday, February 9, was reportedly so desperate financially that he was willing to take on any acting offer that came his way.
Pahlaj Nihalani was the last to offer him a role in Rangeela Raja.
"I did not offer him Rangeela Raja" Nihalani tells Subhash K Jha. "He insisted on being in the film when it was almost completed. I suddenly got a call from Mahesh. I had worked with him in Aag Ka Gola and Andaz. I always liked him."
"He was straightforward in his dealings, friendly and courageous. In his heyday, his physique was the envy of many heroes. The minute he would take off his shirt for a fight, some heroes would get insecure."
Is that why Mahesh stopped getting work?
"Perhaps," Nihalani answers. "It is a fact that he was without work. He had stopped getting work for more than 10 years. I do not know his financial condition, but it must have been distressful."
"Though he married two or three times and though he has a son, Mahesh lived all alone. He had an impressive dog for a companion whom he was very proud of. He would take the dog everywhere; he treated it like a tiger," Nihalani recalls.
"Mahesh was all macho and tough, muscled and sinewy long before the gym culture hit the entertainment industry."
Nihalani recalls Mahesh's desperate call for work.
"He said he wanted to be part of Rangeela Raja. I told him only the climax of the film remained to be shot. He asked to be fitted into the climax. I sensed his need and I made a role for him at the last moment."
"The problem is Mahesh didn't look for work hard enough. He lived in his own world. Here, you have to be pushy when you need work."
"He had a kidney problem, but his main problem was the lack of work opportunities."
Sushant Singh, general secretary, Cine & TV Artistes Association, reveals that Mahesh had suicidal tendencies.
"Our executive committee member Nupur Alankar talked him out of a suicidal bout last year; she was in touch with him even after that. It's a freelancer's responsibility to be prepared for the day opportunities dry up," says Sushant.
"I don't think Mahesh Anand ever approached anyone for financial help. He had become a recluse and it's only now that we are discovering the various issues he was facing."