Did you know that Rana, 37, and Goldie, 34, have played Ramesh and Suresh, respectively, for eleven years?
Did you know Suresh, we mean, Goldie, is an author and aspiring director?
Did you know that Rana was rejected the first time he auditioned for the role of Ramesh and returned the next day wearing glasses, posing as the rejected guy's brother?
Did you know that, sometimes, during a single shoot, the duo is made to eat up to 50 bars of 5 Star each?
We got to know all this and more, during the course of a fun interview with 5 Star's eternal faces, Ramesh and Suresh. In, ahem, 'real life', they go by Rana Pratap Sengar and Goldie Duggal, respectively.
"After we shot our very first ad for 5 Star, our director Prashant Sippy (of production house Corcoise Films), said, 'Pray that there are ten more ads like this...'" Rana reminisces. And guess what - they went on to do around 25 TVCs, over 250 digital ads and a 30-minute-long film (titled 'The Date' where Ramesh and Suresh go out with, erm, Kamla and Vimla).
"We never thought our journey would be like this... we never thought we'd reach this level," Rana says.
Rana has a background in theatre (eight years) and was part of the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA) at Jabalpur. After working with Habib Tanvir in Bhopal for a while, he moved to Mumbai and worked with Mehmood Farooqui (he practised Dastangoi, an Urdu storytelling form). He has also appeared in a few Bollywood movies. Theatre remains his passion, though. His next play is on March 16 at Mumbai's Prithvi Theatre.
Goldie, on the other hand, has always been laser-focused on film direction. He has even worked on the sets of feature films like Oh My God, All is Well and Talaash, in the direction department. He also has a few short films to his credit, but as a director, not as an actor. "I was never into acting. Even now, I'm not. I am into writing and direction," Goldie asserts.
How then, did he land up on Indian television as Suresh?
"It happened accidentally," he shrugs. One fine day, he got a call from the casting director on the job, who said, 'Ad karoge?'
"I thought, 'Is it that easy to get an ad? There are so many people who wait in line to audition...'" Goldie recalls, adding, "There was uncertainty in my mind. When I didn't turn up for the audition, the casting director called me again." That's when he decided to show up at Shreeji Studio, where the audition was held. Goldie recalls being asked to wear around three different types of wigs and say a few lines. The auditions went on for five days and around 600 candidates were evaluated.
That very evening, he got a call saying he was in. The first shoot was at Alibaug. The ad featured three people, unlike the present day 5 Star ad that features just Ramesh and Suresh in the lead.
Rana didn't have it so easy. After being rejected once, he turned up the next day, posing as the rejected guy's brother. "I wore glasses and applied hair oil," he laughs.
He recalls the brief vividly. "I was told to act as though there is a chocolate in my hand, take a bite of the invisible chocolate and become invisible myself, after doing so! The casting director - who was very rude to me - said, 'You have to audition twice; once, your top half will 'disappear', and then your bottom half will 'disappear'..." Sounds awfully familiar, doesn't it?
"Their requirements were very weird," Rana smiles at the memory. This was his first ad ever; he recalls being unsure about basic things, including how much to charge.
The duo has come a long way since. "Now, there are times when Prasoon (Pandey) doesn't even give us a script. While shooting the Bank Robbery ad, for instance, when we asked him for it, he said, 'Arrey tum log toh jaante ho kya karna hai'," says a now confident Rana.
Adds Goldie, "Whether it's a TVC or a digital ad, we're told what to do only after we get ready and stand in front of the camera.... Prasoon Sir loves to experiment while shooting; in the process, we have to keep eating countless bars of 5 Star."
After eleven years, they're clearly the most experienced folks on the set of a 5 Star ad. "If there's someone new on board, directing us for the first time, we actually tell him how we're supposed to hold the chocolate, instead of the other way around," they say.
The duo will act in a movie soon.