Ashish Vidyarthi
Ashish Vidyarthi 

No laughing matter: Ashish Vidyarthi sets for stand-up comedy show 'Sit Down Ashish' at 58

Deepali Singh

At 58, Ashish Vidyarthi is anything but ready to hang up his boots. The actor, who has more than 300 films in 11 different languages to his credit, continues to act but has morphed into a motivational speaker as well as a travel vlogger with two YouTube channels. Now he’s all set to add another feather to his cap.

The National Award-winning actor is making his debut on stage as a stand-up, which ironically is titled 'Sit Down Ashish'. Vidyarthi describes it as a show where he will be taking potshots at his life. “Usually, one associates stand-up with youngsters, but I say ‘age no bar, hans le mere yaar!’” he laughs.

The actor credits director Vikas Bahl for the inspiration. It was after doing two seasons of Bahl’s web series Sunflower, that Vidyarthi realised how much he enjoyed comedy. Playing Dilip Iyer, the head of Sunflower society committee, he says, gave him the opportunity to explore another aspect of his personality and craft. “I have played negative characters in 99 per cent of my films. Sunflower came like a whiff of fresh air. Just imagine, I am part of a murder mystery, where I am neither the murderer nor the police officer,” he says, adding that the stand-up show is a tribute to the director.

Vidyarthi started his Hindi film career with the hard-hitting action-drama Drohkaal (1994) directed by Govind Nihalani, and went on to win the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Commander Bhadra. The film completes three decades this year, and the actor says he does not remember much of it. “I have no memory of it. All

I remember is Govindji touching my forehead and telling me to remove the furrows, implying not to show that I am acting. The other thing I remember is going to the hospital because I had injured myself,” he says. The actor shares that he is not someone who thinks much about the past, opting instead to think about what lies ahead. “My friends complain that I never remember old incidents. I want to know what’s happening next,” he says.

Perhaps, it is this particular quality that keeps him excited about what’s coming next. It is perhaps also what led him to explore so many other things, apart from his primary career. From his journey as a motivational speaker to vlogging on food and travel, and now stand-up, Vidyarthi believes that it is his discontentment with things that keeps him going. “If one is not dissatisfied, there is no point waking up in the morning. You wake up each day wanting to do something you have never done,” he adds.

A poster of Sunflower

All these aspects, he believes, have only added value to his life as well as his craft as an actor. “I believe that none of us is without. Anything we go through stays with us.

I never look at anything as wasted. Everything is an addition. What you take from it is up to you. So have the ability to celebrate what you have,” he says, slipping effortlessly into his motivational speaker avatar.

On the work front, Vidyarthi is happy with the way audiences have appreciated the clean comedy series, Sunflower, and his role in it. He’s in prep-mode for his stand-up comedy show, which will be staged at Veda Kunba Theatre in Andheri, Mumbai on March 31. There are also five more releases to look forward to this year, the earliest of which is likely to be a web series, tentatively titled Pratipashchandra. “I am too excited to resign from life,” he smiles. It seems curiosity doesn’t always kill the cat.