Vinay Pathak | Known for films like Bheja Fry, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and Khosla Ka Ghosla, Pathak speaks with Musba Hashmi about how acting happened and his debut project, among other things
What is Chhappad Phaad Ke about that released on Hotstar Specials?
It is a film about a middle class family and as the name suggests they come across a lot of money which they have always desired but now they don’t know what to do with it. I play Sharad Gupchup. The film talks about the changes in the relationships in the family. It touches upon the basic fabric of the life in middle class families.
Were there any apprehensions before taking up the role?
Not at all. When I heard the story for the first time I knew that I was taking up the project. I liked the concept and the story line. In fact the director Sameer Hemant Joshi and I sat along with the writer and added a lot of interesting elements in the story. It was fun to be a part of the project.
How did acting happen to you?
Acting fascinated me since my childhood but never thought of taking it up as a profession. I grew up in a boarding school in Ranchi and actively participated in stage plays back then. Initially, I wanted to be a teacher. I had some great teachers in my life and I wanted to follow their footsteps. Then, I went to New York to pursue further studies. There, I saw a play by Peter Shaffer — Equus and it changed my life and saw it four-five times. It was then that I realised that acting is what I am born for. I got myself registered in a drama school and did theatre in New York for four years before I shifted to Mumbai.
You debuted with Fire (1998). How did you come on board for the project?
I was in Delhi attending a film festival. I came across my friend from New York Ranjit Chaudhary who had just finished the shooting for Mira Nayyar’s Kamasutra. He told me that he is staying back in the country and prepping for Deepa Mehta’s next, Fire. He asked me if I would be interested. I went on for the auditions and got selected.
Do you have a checklist?
First, the script should be good. Second, the story should be enthralling. I believe all the characters in a well-written script are etched in the memory. This has been the template for me all this while. And so far it has worked for me.
Dasvidaniya was a hit. Yet films like Bheja Fry and Khosla Ka Ghosla have become synonymous to your name. Does this bother you?
No, not at all. Dasvidaniya was a film that I produced also. It was made similar to Bheja Fry only. Bheja Fry made me a successful and bankable actor and I was able to raise money. I am thankful to all the films that I was a part of. I was at the right place and the right time.
Is it a concern that you have an image that you can play comic roles flawlessly?
I never take a project because there is comedy in it. There has to be a good story. Comedy and seriousness are all emotions. I haven’t take these roles deliberately but they happened with me. Moreover, if you see Bheja Fry, it is not a deliberate humorous character. Instead he is a serious person who is concerned about his work. There is a sense of sincerity in the character. So, most of the characters that I have played have had mixed emotions.
Is there a genre you’d like to explore?
Looking for a genre is the wrong approach. The focus should be only on a good script. That’s all.
How has your journey been thus far?
It was an extremely happy one. Ups and downs are a part and parcel of life. But I have no complaints and no regrets at all. I have been extremely fortunate to have been a part of the industry.