Unconventional adman and undisputed king of satire Bharat Dabholkar is better known for his utterly…butterly…Amul advertisement. Besides advertising, he has also made his mark in theatres and movies. As he juggles between his varied roles, he has another important role to play – his family which includes his four smart dogs and a sensational cat. In conversation with Gauri Keskar, Dabholkar expresses love for his pets…
All of us know that very special feeling of coming home to a dog.
The incessant wagging of tail, the licks, the complaints, and the undivided attention you get. Well, now imagine coming home to four big dogs, all of who, want your attention at the same time and a cat who also sometimes thinks that he is a dog! That’s exactly how adman Bharat Dabholkar is greeted by whenever he walks in home. Bharat Dabholkar, who is well-known for his quirky ‘Amul’ advertisements and an ensemble of topical plays like ‘I Love Bombay,’ ‘Monkey Business’ and the extremely popular ‘Bottoms Up,’ is also a passionate animal lover. His pets, he says, are a part of his family and at present he shares his home with a pair of Siberian Huskies called Wolf and Kali, a Chow called Mufasa and the oldest yet the most wise Osho, a Bull-dog. There is Voodoo, the Persian cat, who in a typical cat fashion, spends time with the owner and his extended dog family, as and when he deems it fit to! The first thing that came to my mind was how do all of them manage to co-exist with each other! But that doubt was firmly laid to rest as I walked into Dabholkars house which closely resembles a tree house built on stilts!! It was like walking into a different world. All around the house runs a wooden veranda, which is where I met the dogs lounging around and enjoying their view from the top. They looked like one big happy family, relaxing and enjoying their morning time with one another. Whereas Wolf, Kali and Osho greeted with wagging tails, Mufasa, the Chow wasn’t at all impressed by me. He sniffed me around, barked a little and then turned around and walked off inside the house to sit on his own. “All the dogs have their own distinctive personalities. While Wolf, Osho and Kali are the more gregarious ones, Mufasa is a complete introvert. Other than immediate family, he doesn’t interact with anyone else,” explained Dabholkar. As I looked around fascinated, Kali darted towards Dabholkar and demanded to be petted. “Kali is top dog. She oversees all the canine activities in the house. Osho, the oldest one is not very agile like all the rest and is sometimes ignored by his younger dog family but Kali makes sure to spend time with him every time he feels left out,” he added.
So how have his dogs affected his life? His home, he says, is completely ruled by the dogs (and that is quite obvious!!). The entire household chores are centred around their needs! He recalls the time when Osho was the only dog in the house and would accompany him to the office everyday, so much so that he had become the office mascot and also played a part in his play called ‘Circus.’ Every time he would come in for the shows of the play he would want to sit on one of the chairs in the make-up room and absolutely refused to sit on the floor to a point where one of his co-actors would have to vacate a seat for him!! He was a favourite of the audiences and got a standing ovation at the 100th show which coincided with the day he became a father of 8 pups!
So when and how did his association with dogs start? He says that he has had dogs all his life. From his first dog Poppy, a mixed breed, which he got while he was in school to Furher, yet another mixed breed, to Mafia and then Satan (both Boxers) and of course the four canines he has right now, it has been one topsy-turvy but a fun ride. Each one of them, he reiterates, are very dear to him and growing up would definitely have been much less fun without them.
As I left Dabholkars house that morning, I turned around and saw the four dogs standing on the verandah almost waving at me. I couldn’t help smiling at how happy they looked together and how well they were looked after. Well, I now truly believe that it is a dog’s life, after all!!