Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Vinay Pathak: Focusing on just your own “self” is a trap

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In an exclusive interview with The Pioneer, actor Vinay Pathak, who was part of Zee Theatre’s Koi Baat Chale, shared his experience narrating the classic tale, the characters that have given him immense satisfaction while carving them on screen, and more.

Tejal Sinha

Actor Vinay Pathak needs an introduction. Irrespective of the genre of the film, the actor is known for playing some of the most fantastic characters, be it the aspiring singer Bharat Bhushan in Bheja Fry or the bank robber Harman in Badlapur.

The Khosla ka Ghosla actor has been associated with theatres for quite a long time. And, now, the actor is a part of Zee Theatre’s Koi Baat Chale, where he narrates one of legendary writer Munshi Premchand’s classic tales, ‘Idgah’. We’re sure hearing ‘Idgah’ would bring back those old memories of our school days when our Hindi teachers taught us the chapter.

Narrating a classic tale like ‘Idgah’ not only brought back memories for the Raat Gayi Baat Gayi actor, but the classic tale also holds a special place in his heart. Let’s hear from the adept actor himself, “I grew up with this story and read it in school and college, and it has always stirred me at a deep, emotional level because it is steeped in innocence and the values of love, empathy, and generosity. At some level, we all want to be as pure and loving as Hamid. The story also has a very special place in my heart as I was also very close to my grandmother.”

Reading and reciting poetry and stories were always a part of the Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi actor’s childhood, and dramatic narrations were not unusual in school or at home. “The dormant actor in me loved to play around with interesting stories, and now I am doing the same as a professional. The experience, as you can imagine, is enthralling, to say the least.”

At a point where kids these days follow social media quotes more than these inspiring stories, Koi Baat Chale preserves the rich legacy of subcontinental literature for the new generation. But on this, he has a different take, “First of all, let’s not underestimate the kids of today’s generation. Every generation has its own way of telling stories and its own unique identity. As a matter of fact, I envy the generation of today, as it is far more well-informed and evolved than we were at their age. But yes, their connection with literature may not be as strong as their awareness of the rest of the world, and I am glad that Zee Theatre is initiating projects like Koi Baat Chale which hopefully will initiate conversations about iconic authors and their vast body of work.”

While narrating a story that we have been related to for a long time, it brings back to us the beautiful memories we would have had. From our grandparents’ narrating these stories to us to narrating them ourselves, it’s a whole different experience in itself. Asked what he found most relatable that brought back memories while narrating Idgah? The Bajatey Raho actor said, “The experience of childhood, its challenges and gifts, the excitement around a festival, and all the inexpressible feelings that go through a child’s heart and mind. Premchand has captured it all so well.”

On one side, where actors flex their muscles and have a good hairdo, he has always been an actor who has always had a “common man” image, not only on-screen but also off-screen. We asked him, as he frequently portrays a common man on screen, which character he has played on screen has been the most relatable to him in real life. He answered, “I try to impart some reality and relatability to all the characters I attempt. And when it works in the larger scheme of things (the overall story), it’s very gratifying. My roles in films like Dasvidania, Bheja Fry, Khosla Ka Ghosla, Johnny Gaddar, Chalo Dilli, Chintu Ka Birthday, and Gour Hari Dastan have given me immense satisfaction during the process of carving them on screen.”

As we already spoke about, he is known for the characters that he plays. We were eager to listen to him talk about his character-choosing process, and he said, “I concentrate on selecting a good story above the character I have to play. A good character in a weak story doesn’t appeal to me, and I sincerely believe that there are no weak characters in a good story.”

Many actors believe that they’ve got a lot to discover about themselves in the craft. Having completed 20+ years in the industry, the Luka Chuppi actor shares, “The one thing I’ve learned in all these years is that focusing on just your own “self” is a trap, and instead, it is more important to keep looking for stories to tell. In the final analysis, you’re not important, the stories are.”

Lately, working or not working on a commercial role or film has been a debate. Many actors have also opened up, saying that they enjoy doing commercial films for obvious reasons. But for him, they are just labels. “I have never been a part of this debate. A good role in a good story in a good film would always make an impact, and that’s all I know. Commercial, non-commercial, mainstream, art-house, and Indie are just labels. A good film is a good film regardless of how we choose to label it.”

Ending the interaction, he furthermore shares some of his upcoming projects that he’ll be a part of, including Rajat Kapoor’s Everyone Loves Sohrab Handa, Sriram Raghavan’s Merry X-mas, Zoya Akhtar’s The Archies, and Milan Luthria’s Sultan of Delhi.”

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