He is the quintessential common man. And he made his mark playing that role in a TV series that characterised The Times of India cartooning legend R.K. Laxman's creation. Anjan Shrivastav was a public sector bank employee who lived and breathed theatre in the eighties when the role of the common man for the series Wagle Ki Duniya came his way. And he has not looked back since.
Thanks to his innate histrionic talent, today Shrivastav is not just a TV artiste but has progressed to the big screen too. His performances have always been noteworthy, especially where he portrayed a morally strong father.
Shrivastav, however, has not had it easy. Despite having the desire to act from an early age, he was not permitted to do so by a strict father. Says he: "My father did not want any acting of any kind in his family."
So Shrivastav opted to complete his B.Com and even acquired an LLB from Calcutta University. His father relented and gave him the go-ahead to seek his acting fortune after the tragic death of his daughter. So at 30, the West Bengal denizen began pursuing what he wanted most in life. He started with a theatre group in Calcutta.
He was already working in Allahabad Bank when he decided to move to Bombay to try his luck at breaking into the theatre circuit there. He applied for a transfer and moved to Mumbai. The bank took six months to complete the formalities of his transfer and he was without a salary for that length of time. Additionally, he recalls that there were times when he did not know where his next meal would come from as the money which otherwise used to last for a month now got over in 25 days "but the actor in me never died," he reveals. "I kept going. My life and passion is theatre."
He says he balanced his bank job, theatre, films and television without any difficulty and of course the credit for this goes to his friends everywhere who helped him through the difficult patches. Among them figure Amitabh Bachchan and Jackie Shroff. He recently retired from the bank after 31 years of service.
Among the films he has acted in are: Golmal, Bemisal, Khuda Gawah and Pukar. And the television series that he has gained acclaim for are: Tamas, Nukkad, AND Alpaviram, Wagle Ki Nayi Duniya.
Shrivastava is a family man and a father of 17-year-old twins (a boy and a girl) and a seven-year-old daughter. He is a firm believer in Mohanannad Brahamachari of Calcutta. So much so that he has dedicated his master bedroom by making it the 'Poojasthan'. "I wouldn't have been able to make it without my guru's blessing," he admits.
Shrivastav is extremely keen to set up his own web site providing information about himself to fans across India and globally. Besides acting on stage and the big screen, he keeps himself busy at the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA) as he is its vice-president. His commitment to theatre can be seen from the fact that he is willing to work for just Rs10 in a play while his charges are Rs500,000 for 20 days of filming for a Hindi movie, and Rs30,0000 per episode on television. With the high level of commitment that he has can we also lable Shrivastav the Uncommon Man?