Pratik Gandhi does not hesitate for even a second when we ask him to recall where he first met his wife Bhamini Oza. “The first time I laid eyes on her was at the Prithvi Festival in 2005. I was on stage performing acrobatics for Manoj Shah’s experimental play Maestro, Master, Swami and she was sitting in the second row watching the show,” says the Scam 1992 actor, adding that at the time, he had no clue that the girl who had caught his eye was an actor as well. Bhamini, on her part, was quite impressed with the actor’s ability to perform cartwheels with so much confidence. Little did she know then that she was looking at her future husband.
The elusive date
Pratik might have impressed her with his cartwheels on stage but getting her to say yes to a meeting proved harder than anything else. After nearly two years and umpteen phone calls full of random conversations, Bhamini finally agreed to meet him for a cup of coffee. “What is the worst response you can get when someone asks you out on a coffee date? She would reply with a ‘why?’ Now, what does one say after that,” he guffaws. Sharing that she takes time to open up to people, Bhamini says she was sure Pratik would come up with something romantic on their first date, but even she was unprepared for what followed. “The first thing he asked me when we met was what I was looking for in a partner. This was our first meeting and this was his first question,” she recalls with a laugh.
Pratik had his reasons. “In my head, I had known her for two years. This coffee date had taken so long to happen. Who knew when the next would happen, so I decided to just go for it,” he reveals. Thankfully, it did not take too many dates for Bhamini to realise that Pratik is the one for her and the couple tied the knot in December 2008.
Pratik was already an established name in Gujarati theatre and cinema but it was 2020’s Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story that made him a household name, bringing him awards and appreciation alike. However, success hasn’t changed him at all, shares Bhamini. “By God’s grace, he has always been humble. I am very proud of him,” she adds. The support of his wife and family keeps him grounded, believes Pratik. “It’s a very strong anchor that gives you an objective view towards life. It is required in everyone’s life but if you are an artist, it is needed even more,” he shares.
Love for theatre
One of the things that have and continues to be a common passion for the two is their love for theatre. The couple has worked together in many plays including Bahot Nachyo Gopal and the Gujarati version of Sir Sir Sarla. Pratik, his wife believes, has fantastic instincts as an actor and it does not take long for him to understand and process a character. “I have never told him this but he is my favourite actor,” she adds with a smile even as Pratik is at a loss for words for the genuine words of appreciation from his wife.
He does not miss the chance to tell us what he loves most about her as an artist as well. “She has an impeccable comic timing and an innate ability to create emotions written between the lines,” he says.
The couple that works together, stays together
It is when they work together as a team that they push each other to give their best. “We can have intense discussions about performing the same thing differently without any ego clashes. It needs a lot of understanding,” says Pratik. Having worked as co-actors on stage and in a short film, reading plays and recording a book among numerous other projects, they are often asked how they work together without getting into arguments. “It works the opposite way for us. If we have had a difference of opinion about something at home, it gets resolved once we get to work,” he shares. Bhamini seconds his opinion, “Our work is our place of solace.”
The other big advantage of working with his wife, adds Pratik, is they don’t need to spend time to achieve some level of comfort and ease. “Sometimes with other actors, you take time to break the ice and get comfortable with their energy in order to share your thoughts and ideas. When Bhamini and I work together, we can pay more attention to creating the character,” he says.
In more ways than one, they complete each other. For Bhamini, his constant support and positive attitude towards life has helped her navigate through setbacks in life. “He keeps me going. I tend to think practically most of the time and his constant refrain is, ‘think practically but what’s the harm in thinking positively as well?’ That is something I really appreciate about him,” she adds.