Few people remember Satish Kaul as Rehana Sultan’s handsome lover in the 1973 drama Prem Parbat where he played the gendered ranger Rehana ran for sex when her elderly husband Nana Palsikar was sleeping. It was a daring film and Satish got lead roles in quirky Hindi films like Nek Parveen, Mere Sartaj, and Ang Se Ang Laga Le. Like most failed lead actors, Satish quickly moved on to supporting roles in big budget films like Shiva ka Insaaf and Inaam Dus Hazaar. He had insignificant roles in two productions of Pahlaj Nihalani Ilzaam and Aag Hi Aag.
Pahlajji remembers Satish as “hard working, friendly, eager for work, always eager to face the camera, always wondering where the next meal would come from.” Bitter and frustrated with the lack of work in Hindi cinema, Satish moved to Punjabi cinema where he had relatively more successful runs with films like Jatt Punjabi, Lacchi and Rano. He was labeled “Amitabh Bachchan of Punjabi Cinema”.
Not that it helped support his career. When the roles in the Punjab also began to dry up, Satish entered Indian television. He played small roles on television. He was seen in Vikram-Vetal and Mahabharat.
In recent years, his financial situation has gone from bad to worse. Without a family (his wife apparently divorced him and left the country), Satish was forced to live in a charity house in Ludhiana. He died penniless in a hospital in Ludhiana, hungry for work, hungry for love, hungry for dignity. And just hungry.
No money for food. The last years of Satish are a lesson for all actors and technicians of Indian cinema who have no savings to fall back on during difficult times. I remember 1970s actress Vimi, a great discovery by BR Chopra that was launched with fanfare in the hit Humraaz. Soon his career failed and failed. Without money and without a career, she drank herself to death.
His body had to be loaded onto a hand cart to be taken to the crematorium. Satish Kaul was a little less unhappy.
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