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'Dhanno Ki Aankhon Me, Pyar Ka Surma ' - Ram Mohan

15 Apr, 2020 | Beete Hue Din by Shishir Krishna Sharma
Ram Mohan. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

There have been many character artists like Sankata Prasad, Hari Shivdasani, Krishna Kant, Keshav Rana, Krishna Dhawan, Rajan Haksar, and Brahm Bharadwaj in Hindi Cinema who appeared on the screen for decades and gained recognition but could not reach the heights of popularity they truly deserved. One such artist is Ram Mohan, who has given more than six decades of his life to the Hindi Cinema. Still physically and mentally fit, 84 years old Ram Mohan says, "It’s not that easy now to recollect old memories. I often forget things." 
Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1953). Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din 

I have been in regular touch with Ram Mohan through telephone. But recently we met at his flat at Juhu's North Bombay Society, especially for Beete Hue Din. During this meeting, he tried his level best to recollect the times gone by and spoke in detail about his personal and professional life. Ram Mohan was born on 2 November 1929 in Ambala Cantt. His father Doctor Sadhu Ram Sharma hailed from Jagadhri and had his own hospital in Ambala. Ram Mohan's mother Mrs. Yogmaya Sharma was a housewife and Ram Mohan was her only child though he had an elder sister and a brother from his father’s first marriage. 

Ram Mohan in Sati Sulochana (1969). Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din 

Ram Mohan says, "I matriculated from Ambala's Arya School and soon after completing my BA from G.M.N. College, which was the higher section of the Arya School only, I came down to Mumbai in March or April 1949. Films were a passion and Mumbai fascinated me. But the main reason behind my running away from Ambala was a failed relationship and broken heart. I did not want to stay in Ambala anymore. As soon as I reached the railway station, I boarded the Frontier Mail which was about to leave the platform. I was so afraid by the thought of being caught without-ticket that I got down at Baroda to buy one. But by the time I returned with the ticket, the train had already left. I boarded the next train and reached Mumbai." 
Night Club (1958) from Cinemaazi archive

One of Ram Mohan's acquaintances named Mahesh Uppal from Ambala was serving as a painter with Famous Art Studio near Mumbai Central and resided in the studio itself. Ram Mohan stayed with him at the studio for 2 months. Every day he would go to the film studios like Ranjit Movietone and Famous Studio, situated in the nearby areas of Dadar and Mahalaxmi. Sometimes he even had to bribe the watchmen to let him enter the studio gates. After 2 months, Ram Mohan was asked to leave the studio, so he had to come to live in Vile Parle. 
Chacha Zindabad (1959). Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

According to Ram Mohan, one day somebody suggested to him that he should meet the then well-known actor-director Jagdish Sethi. Ram Mohan met Jagdish Sethi at his Pedder Road residence and happened to really impress him. According to Ram Mohan, "I joined him and almost became his shadow. I started playing very small characters in his films. I got my first significant role in Jagdish Sethi directed Insaan (1952)." 
Angulimala (1960) from Cinemaazi archive

Prithviraj Kapoor, Ragini, and Kamal Kapoor played leading roles in Insaan made in 1952 while Ram Mohan was playing a very small role. Ram Mohan says, "Kamal Kapoor had to ride a horse in one of the scenes but he had no idea about horse riding. He was very worried and spoke to me about his dilemma. Then he requested Jagdish Sethi to change the script and instead make me ride the horse. Though this job wasn't easy for me too, I accepted the challenge and eventually, I succeeded. Jagdish Sethi was so happy with my work that he not only enhanced my role in the film Insaan but also promised to cast me in better roles in all his forthcoming films." 
Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

Jagdish Sethi fulfilled his promise and gave Ram Mohan the role of the side-hero in Jaggu made in the same year, 1952. The lead pair in this film was Kamal Kapoor and Shyama. Ram Mohan says "Jaggu's success made it easier for me. In the next few years, I played important characters in the films like Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1953), Pensioner (1954), Hotel (1956), Laal-e-Yaman (1956), Devar Bhabhi (1958), Miss 58 (1958), Night Club (1958), Raj Singhasan (1958), Bhagwan Aur Shaitan (1959), Chacha Zindabad (1959), Do Behnein (1959), Tipu Sultan (1959), Angulimal (1960), Bahadur Lutera (1960), Choron Ki Baraat (1960), Kaala Aadmi (1960) and Mr. Superman Ki Waapsi (1960)." 
Batwara (1989) from Cinemaazi archive

Ram Mohan did not get much opportunity to play the hero or side-hero but soon he was recognized as a villain and a character artist. During a career spanning 60 years, Ram Mohan acted in approximately 240 films including Hariyali Aur Rasta (1962), Mere Huzoor (1968),  Shor (1972), Kitaab (1977), Shaan (1980), Jiyo To Aise Jiyo (1981), Angoor (1982), Sawan Ko Aane Do (1979), Nadiya Ke Paar (1982), Batwara (1989), Ghulaami (1985), Rangeela (1995) and Koyla (1997) and 15 T.V.serials like Mirza Ghalib, Tara, Shatranj, Sansaar, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Ye Dilli Hai, and Mahabharat. Besides, he was also the Vice President of the Cine & TV Artistes Association (CINTAA) for 4 years and the General Secretary for 6 years. He was actively associated with various associations working for the wellbeing of the people associated with the film industry. 
Ram Mohan with his wife. Image Courtesy: Beete Hue Din

Father of 3 sons and one daughter, Ram Mohan is now living a retired life with his wife, having fulfilled all his duties towards his family. His eldest son and second son, have their own business and are settled in Mumbai and USA respectively while the youngest one is a pilot with Air India and lives in Mumbai. His daughter is married and based in Delhi. On being asked about why none of his children showed any interest in joining the glamour world, Ram Mohan laughingly says, "After closely witnessing the volatility of this world, where is the question of fascination? "

Ram Mohan Ji passed away at the age of 86 in Mumbai on 6 December 2015.

[part of Shishir Krishna Sharma's Beete Hue Din blog series]


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