Meet the 'Swiggy Uncle'

A mechanical engineer from Delhi who has been acting in theatre, TV serials and movies for 30 years, Naresh Gosain has finally tasted fame—and got a new name too

Published: May 21, 2019 03:15:53 PM IST
Updated: May 21, 2019 05:39:32 PM IST

g_116323_nareshgossain_av12_bg_280x210.jpgImage: Amit Verma

It was 1988. Shah Rukh Khan had bagged his first-ever TV project, directed by the legendary Lekh Tandon. Dil Dariya, which became a hit on Doordarshan three decades ago, was delayed, and Khan went on to appear first in a TV show called Fauji; however, when it did air, it showed a glimpse of Bollywood’s future superstar’s acting prowess. The next year, Khan played protagonist in Doosra Kewal, by the same director, which also faced delays.

Apart from having the same actor, director, and the same fate—both shows were popular, got wide critical acclaim, and got Khan applauded for his stellar acting—there was another thing in common: Naresh Gosain. A mechanical engineer from Delhi, Gosain also made his professional acting debut by bagging piffling roles in Doosra Keval and Dil Dariya. As expected, Gosain, then 28, remained out of the frame. The directors didn’t have any opinion about his acting, producers had no clue about the aspiring actor, and the audience barely noticed him in the two serials where he made fleeting appearances.

Cut to 2008. The Dibakar Banerjee-directed film, Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! hit screens. The Abhay Deol and Paresh Rawal-starrer won hearts as well as positive critic reviews. What, however, went unnoticed was a ‘man with transistor’—the role played by Gosain. Over the next few years, the theatre artist, who started acting in a Ramlila—a dramatic folk re-enactment of the life of Lord Rama—along with his father in 1972, went on to grab many inconsequential roles. He played Inspector Bhagwat in Subhash Ghai’s Kaanchi; ‘Drunk guy on highway’ in another blockbuster, NH10; ‘groom’s uncle’ in the web series Mirzapur. Lady luck was yet to smile on the man who has been struggling for his moment of fame.

Fast forward to 2018. After three decades of acting in theatre, on television and in movies, Gosain bagged a role in a 15-second TV commercial. There was no dialogue for him, and no hefty star cast. He just had to flash a smile, holding a gulab jamun. But what mattered most was not his grin—Lady Luck, finally, did smile on him.

Swiggy Uncle—that’s how Gosain began to be known after the success of the commercial by food aggregator Swiggy—became the talk of the town. This year, Swiggy brought back Gosain in another ad, this time, with a ladoo.

“What 15 seconds of the Swiggy ad did for me is something that even 30 years of acting couldn’t,” says Gosain, flashing that now-famous smile.

 

A household face
On a sweltering Wednesday afternoon, Gosain is sitting under a tree outside the Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts in Delhi. Dressed in light blue jeans and a casual blue-and-white T-shirt, the pot-bellied actor is busy checking WhatsApp messages. Suddenly, a bunch of college students surround him. “Look, there’s Swiggy Uncle,” they say excitedly.

“Can we take a selfie with you?”

“Can you please smile for us?”

A few young aspiring actors, loitering at Safdar Hashmi Marg, spot him, and come forward to touch his feet. “Sirji, thoda hamaein bhi acting sikha do (Sir, please teach us some acting too), says Umesh, a 21-year-old who has been taking acting classes at Shri Ram Centre. Gosain, 58, smiles.   

Swiggy has not only given Gosain his moment of fame, but has also opened endorsement floodgates for him. With Bisleri, Surf Excel, Lux Cozi, Goldiee Masale, Netmeds, Crax, Tata Tiago, Dr Fixit…the brand deals for ‘Swiggy Uncle’ get sweeter by the day. In fact, he has been offered a role the upcoming Housefull 4 too. “It’s better late than never,” Gosain smiles, adding that he was offered a role in a Goldiee Masale spot and asked to flash that signature smile. The brand has ambassadors including Salman Khan.

 

The power of a smile
Basking in the fame that the Swiggy commercial has brought, Gosain reflects on his life. My dialogues, in movies, serials and theatre always fell on deaf ears, he quips poignantly. “Finally, it was my smile that did the magic,” he says, highlighting the irony.

In fact, the smile, and his optimistic nature, is what helped him tide over his struggle period as an actor, for more than 30 years. His father, a stenographer in the central government, trashed him for wanting to be an actor in 1982, despite studying mechanical engineering. The portly actor kept his passion alive by playing Kumbhakarna in the Ramlila. When he took a leap of faith in 2000 by deciding to pursue acting as a full-time profession, against the wishes of his wife and kids, Gosain says he did it with a smile on his face.

“I am a shameless optimist,” he says. “It’s important to have luck, and I knew it would come to me one day. People will get to know your talent only when you get a chance to show it to them,” Gosain smiles. Suddenly his attention gets diverted as a 10-year-old spots Gosain. “Swiggy Uncle” the kid shouts, as he buys an ice cream from a cart parked next to the tree where Gosain is sitting. The ‘uncle’ acknowledges him. The ice cream vendor looks bemused. “Is the old man a star?” he asks. “He is Swiggy Uncle,” the child replies.

Show More
Post Your Comment
Required
Required, will not be published
All comments are moderated
  • Vidhit Sharma

    very kind,gentle and honest person.known as the swiggy uncle and famous for his friendly nature.He is a person to respect .My favorite swiggy uncle.

    on May 21, 2019
  • L N CHAWLA (LAXMI NARAIN CHAWLA)

    Naresh Gosain and I have

    on May 22, 2019
  • L N CHAWLA

    Naresh has dedicated his life to acting and yes has achieved a nieche position for himself. I wish all the best and lots of success in his life.

    on May 22, 2019
  • D KUMAR

    I remember the sincerety and dedication of Mr Naresh when I engaged him for the TV Commercial of a Japanese Multinational company couple of years ago. He struggled a lot and had been shuttlng between Delhi and Mumbai. At last he got the recognation by his Signature Smile. All the best to Marsh Gosain.

    on May 22, 2019
  • Shitij

    Owesome Actor and fabulous person. Keep it up, best of luck, god bless you

    on May 22, 2019
  • Dr.Akhilesh sharma

    I knew Naresh Gosain,now so called Swiggy Uncle since childhood. I still remember our childhood days of nursery school,this cute little boy,with innocent smile,whose father,Kuldeep Gosain Uncle,very social person and king of acting who attained attractioncof masses in his era,without any commercial angles aspirations from the beginning.But that genetic heritage definitely got transferred into his son and that became as me his passion.Although he became an engineer and I bec as me a doctor,but our passion for theatre never ended and that is what was keeping me CV closer to Mandi house and many plays whom I watched in life from time tut o time out of my busy profession. Keeping that as a reference point My friend Kuldeep whom we use to meet once a while just in that area of Mandi house under the tree or over a cup of coffee,it was always a pleasure to meet him,watch his smile,feel his warmth as bd cordiality as ever,he has evolved as a great actor and a kind human being with true passion for acting from within,and that makes him special today.I felt proud when I saw his hoardings in Goa while appearing with Bisleri bottle and I excitedly called to tell him h ed is very noticeable now in the country at various places.Not only that but my overseas friends who got settled abroad commenting on his commercial ads and his perfect performances as character artist was very natural and noticeable and appreciated. Now while sitting in Goa, I read article about him in Forbes India,magazine makes me feel et l proud of my friend,becoming rising star of India.I definitely wish him good luck and m as my blessings from the bottom of my heart.Remembering his great father on this occassion is very fulfilling experience as well and I am sure he must be p et pud of his son as bd showed rye ing his blessings from the heaven.Kerp it up Naresh ji and God bless you,ever.

    on May 22, 2019
  • Gaurav Mathur

    Very nice Naresh ji.....Der se aaye par durust aaye. Very good work, keep it up.

    on May 22, 2019
  • SUDHIR SHARMA

    A ground level character, would be always more appreciated and would touch the hearts. A beautiful silent acting, shows the acting maturity. Cudos , Naresh.

    on May 29, 2019
  • SUDHIR

    Great performance, heart reaching smile, congrates

    on May 30, 2019
Kamala Harris announces plan to close the gender pay gap
Life after Game of Thrones: What's next for fandom in 2019?