His rugged handsome looks, his stubbly beard and his villainish Bollywood roles in films like Fareb, Viraasat and Devdas are the only things most people know about Milind Gunaji. But behind that flashy image lies a rare combination of a qualified engineer, a sensitive poet-writer, an accomplished photographer, a passionate Hindustani classical music aficionado and a popular trekking-TV-show host. Yes, the multifaceted personality of Gunaji is simply amazing.
On June 17, 2005, Dubai Maharashtra Mandal had organized an informal chat with this popular model-turned-actor in Indian Consulate Hall. I, along with Mrs. Surekha Shirsalkar publicly interviewed him on stage. Extremely candid and flowingly eloquent- Gunaji was an interviewer’s delight.
Here are the excerpts of the interview.
How did you enter the modeling world after becoming an engineer?
After getting my degree in engineering, I had started a small factory in Satara but I was keener on seriously pursuing career as a sportsman. I was a state-level cricketer and a badminton player. But a shoulder injury following an accident put paid to those sporting ambitions. My friends suggested me to become a model- thanks to my looks and personality. I met Gautam Rajadhyaksha (the famous photographer) in Mumbai and not only did he shoot my portfolio but he also recommended me for a major ad campaign. Literally within next twenty-four hours, I got signed for Digjam suiting ad-campaign. Since Shekhar Kapoor had just left that ad and since he had the beard, I also had to grow the beard to suit the requirement! That beard then permanently became distinctive part and parcel of my personality.
From modeling to films- how did that happen?
At one of the modelingshoots, film-maker Govind Nihlani spotted me and suggested that I take up a role in his next film Drohkaal. I wasn’t very keen as I used to detest acting till that point of time. But again, the encouragement of my friends pushed me into accepting this acting offer.