Gufi Paintal who played Shakuni in BR Chopra’s Mahabharat passes away, co-stars remember him

Pankaj Dheer, who essayed the character of Karn in "Mahabharat", remembered Gufi Paintal as "a multi-talented boy".

Published: 05th June 2023 06:50 PM  |   Last Updated: 05th June 2023 06:50 PM   |  A+A-

Gufi Paintal.

Gufi Paintal.


MUMBAI: Actor Gufi Paintal known for essaying the role of Shakuni mama in BR Chopra’s popular TV serial Mahabharat (1980), passed away in Mumbai on Monday due to age-related ailments. He was 79.

The actor’s family said in a statement, “With profound grief, we announce the sad demise of our father Mr Gufi Paintal (Shakuni Mama). He passed away peacefully this morning surrounded by family.”

As per reports, Paintal was unwell for a long time and was admitted to the hospital on May 31 after his health condition worsened.

Apart from Mahabharat, the actor also was part of DD shows like Kanoon (1988-1990) and Akbar Birbal (1998-99), among others. He also featured in TV shows like C.I.D and Ssshhhh... Koi Hai (2001-2010). He also worked in films like the Dharmendra headliner Dillagi (1978) and Suhaag (1994), in which he played Akshay Kumar’s maternal uncle.

He also directed a film called Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu which sketches the life of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a 16th-century devotee of Krishna.

It was Gufi Paintal, said actor Mukesh Khanna, who called him to audition for what would go on to become his career-defining role of Bhishma in "Mahabharat".

Their association which started with the classic Doordarshan serial also led to Khanna casting his co-star in the 2013 TV film "Hamara Hero Shaktimaan" in the former's "Shaktimaan" franchise.

"I had a long relationship with him since 'Mahabharat' and I cast him in 'Hamara Hero Shaktimaan', in which he played Dr Jackal. In 'Mahabharat', we had long confrontational scenes together, which were beautifully written by Rahi Masoom Raza. One of the most popular characters of 'Mahabharat' was Shakuni and he portrayed it so well," Khanna told PTI.

According to the actor, Gufi Paintal didn't want to be an actor, even though his younger brother Paintal was in the same profession.

Gufi Paintal was surprised when BR Chopra asked him to take up the role of Shakuni, the king of Gandhara and an expert in the game of dice. "He had joined BR Chopra's office and was casting for 'Mahabharat'.

Everyone was cast for 'Mahabharat' except for the part of Shakuni mama and he was confused who Chopra sahab would cast for this role. He was slightly taken aback when Chopra sahab said he should play it. He took on the challenge and performed so well," Khanna said.

Pankaj Dheer, who essayed the character of Karn in "Mahabharat", remembered Gufi Paintal as "a multi-talented boy".

"He was the casting director of 'Mahabharat', he was also an assistant. I think he had also directed a few episodes of 'Mahabharat'. I regarded him as a better director than an actor. Later, he directed me in a few series such as 'Kanoon' and 'Beta' for the Chopras on Doordarshan. We also did a series called 'Akbar and Birbal'," Dheer told PTI.

The late actor, whose real name was Saravjit Singh Paintal, was also a lyricist.

"He loved writing songs, and he has recorded a couple of songs as well. He would recite poetry and would tell us about what he is doing. This was one of his hobbies and he was very good at it," added Dheer.

Gufi Paintal worked closely with Ravi Chopra, who co-directed "Mahabharat" with his father BR Chopra.

"He was an assistant to Ravi Chopra and he had a small cabin, where he would have details about the character each actor would play," Khanna recalled.

He also recounted an anecdote when Gufi Paintal was refused a seat in the train because of his on-screen avatar.

"We got in the first-class compartment, but we had bought a second-class compartment ticket. The ticket collector said, 'Come, Shakuni mama and Bhishma pitamaha'...Once we got in, we were waiting for a seat to be allotted to us. 

While we were waiting, one of the passengers said, "We will accommodate Bhishma Pitamaha but not Shakuni Mama'. I had told him this was happening because of his onscreen image," Khanna said.

Dheer said Gufi Paintal was "a good friend" with whom he and co-star Puneet Issar spent a lot of time together on set as the villainous trio of Shakuni, Karn and Duryodhan.

"He was a good friend and we did most of the scenes together in 'Mahabharat'. As Shakuni, he was very impressive. To date, people try to copy him but they are not able to reach his style of performance. It is a big loss for the industry," he added.

Gajendra Chauhan, popular as the eldest Pandav brother Yudhishthir in "Mahabharat", expressed his gratitude towards the late actor for casting him in the serial.

"We shot for three years together. We became family. He was a close colleague... We would meet often and we did stage shows together up until six months ago when his health started deteriorating. We kept praying for him but God had a different decision. We will pray for him and his soul," Chauhan told PTI.

Paintal was last seen in the TV show Jai Kanhaiya Lal Ki. 

Follow The New Indian Express channel on WhatsApp


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp