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Dharmesh Tiwari: The man who fought for the welfare of the artists
MUMBAI: Dharmesh Tiwari, the man who had no qualms about fighting for the rights of the film and television fraternity, left for his heavenly abode on the morning of 6 August.
TelevisionPost.com takes a look at the tireless life of this man for all seasons who was equally at home essaying various roles on-screen and fronting the major leagues of tinseltown men and women.
Born on 27 April 1951, Tiwari belonged to Uttaranchal and grew up in Delhi. A multi-faceted actor, he appeared in ‘Mahabharat’, ‘Tipu Sultan’, ‘Vishwamitra’, ‘Discovery of India’, ‘Nukkad’, ‘Shiv Mahapuran’, ‘Vishnupuran’, ‘Ramayana’, ‘Kahan Gaye Wo Log’, ‘Aatish’, ‘Basera’ and ‘Adalat’.
Tiwari was a founder-member of the Association of Voice Artists (AVA) and was an approved Grade A artist on Doordarshan. He was also general secretary of Cine & TV Artistes Association (CINTAA) and president of the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE).
He was married to Bhojpuri actress Roma, who bore him two daughters and a son. However, tragedy struck the family early, and Tiwari lost his 15-year-old son to a cardiac arrest.
Even at the age of 63, he was very active on stage and was touring with the play ‘Jine Lahore Ni Vekhya’. Battling a sugar problem, he travelled to towns like Pathankot and Dharamsala owing to his passion for theatre.
Tiwari’s friend and CINTAA VP Gajendra Chauhan told TelevisionPost.com, “I remember speaking to him on Tuesday morning at 11:30 am and he sounded all right. He told me he and his troupe were heading to Pathankot.”
Chauhan further stated that after lunch, Tiwari was feeling uneasy but dismissing it to be acidity, went off to sleep, telling his ensemble to wake him up in the evening for the performance. But his condition did not improve. However, he did perform in the play. Finally, before retiring for the night, he made a phone call to his wife describing his condition. She advised him to visit a doctor, but he put it off until morning.
The next morning as the troupe was ready to leave for Dharamsala, they saw his condition and took him to the nearest doctor. On seeing the ECG reports, the doctor advised him to visit a speciality hospital. But with his sugar level having risen to 600, Tiwari succumbed to a heart attack and collapsed on the spot.
Back in Mumbai, the news of Tiwari’s passing took everyone by shock.
Another dear friend of Tiwari’s and FWICE general secretary Dinesh Chaturvedi said, “I am still in shock and can’t believe he is no more. I was there for his funeral but still can’t come to terms with it. We have lost a gem. He was a person who could pacify two warring groups and make them friends again.”
Swastik Productions producer Rahul Tewary recalled, “He was a very honest and hardworking individual and dedicated his life completely to the cause of the artists and their welfare. I found him to be very social and a good listener. There were times I had some problems, but he was always fair and judicious. When we launched ‘Mahabharat’, we had invited him and he was full of praise for it.”
Tiwari had a memorable acting stint playing the role of Kripacharya in BR Chopra’s ‘Mahabharat’ on Doordarshan. However, he cut his acting career short to join CINTAA and FWICE to work for the well-being of the artists and producers.
Chauhan added, “Before he left for his play, I had told him not to work so much and to take care of his health as he was travelling to small places where medical facilities were few. But he said he would be fine and even if he wasn’t, the show must go on. And that is how he passed away—in harness.”
In May Tiwari took an active part in the signing of the MoU between CINTAA and the Indian Film and TV Producers’ Council (IIFTPC). A key member of the team that drafted the agreement, he worked on it for nearly six to eight months to ensure its fairness.
Recalling the 2008 strike of junior artists and workers, Chaturvedi said, “In 2008, the TV industry was closed for a month. I was under a lot of stress as I was heading the association. I met Tiwari-ji in the evening at his place to ask for his advice, and he only told me that whatever we decided to do, we should do with a good attitude so that when we would meet the strikers in future, we could say hello nicely.”
Describing his demise as an irreparable loss for the industry, Hats Off Productions founder JD Majethia—who had also spent some years in college with Tiwari—said that Tiwari was the most flexible, incorruptible and non-controversial man he had ever met.
“We had worked together as actors. He often said that I should never call him for acting or give him a role, and I always insisted that I would. But all that is gone now,” said Majethia.
Though not many people are aware, Tiwari was also associated with an NGO that worked for the elderly. And what is all the more remarkable is that he never took any remuneration from the association or asked anyone for donation. In fact, he would even travel on his own, refusing to take the conveyance allowance offered by the association.
Aptly playing the role of Kripacharya in BR Chopra’s ‘Mahabharat’—in the epic Kripacharya is one of the seven Chiranjivi (immortal) sages who are said to live through the present age—Tiwari will always remain a disarming patriarch figure to the film and TV fraternity, a man whose simple message can be best summed up by his own words: “Dushmani itni na karo ki jab mile, saalam-dua na kar sake.”