Photography: Sarika Gangwal
‘All the forces in the world had advised me against it. I am glad I didn’t listen to anyone. Today I don’t remember what was that one guiding factor that made it possible for me and enabled me to do it. Perhaps my obstinacy, plain conviction, or perhaps a bit of both.’ says Vinay Pathak on being asked about leaving his academic journey for acting. It’s something to think about, really. When and how the most eminent actors decide to become actors. Before the release of his next film, Aliya Basu Gayab Hai, an official remake of a Dutch movie based on a unique tale of three different sexualities and lives interwoven into one, we got in touch with Vinay Pathak to explore the different milestones of his life.
What would revisiting your introduction to cinema look like?
My childhood was all growing up with cinema. I remember watching Naya Zamana in theatre with my family. And all I rememberd of it was Hema Malini dancing and singing in the rains ‘Rama Rama Ghazab hoi gawa ri’
In my memory it still remains as a joyous monsoon celebration. Similarly Kohinoor of Dilip Kumar and Meena kumari but I remember Mukri Sahab doing his antics and post that I’d imitate him at home to entertain my uncles and my siblings. I remember being appreciated for my clownery. Cinema was the only entertainment other than Radio, and its strong visual imagery story telling had a huge impact on me. Circus was once a year during Dussehra. I think by the time I was in high school (boarding) I got addicted.
What are your thoughts about choosing acting over academics?
I think it’s the most tricky and the most important and significant decision of my life that I had to make completely on my own, and I am glad that I did the way I did. All the forces in the world had advised me against it. I am glad I didn’t listen to anyone. Today I don’t remember what was that one guiding factor that made it possible for me and enabled me to do it. Perhaps my obstinacy, or plain conviction, or perhaps a bit of both. The fact that I was supporting my own education and was financially independent was definitely a factor. Looking back I am happy for myself. I don’t regret anything. If I had to do it again, I will, and may be a bit sooner.
Who's your source of inspiration?
My father. He was the single most, the only brooding, giant personality who had captured all my imagination while growing up. I feel his influences even today. What would my dad do in a situation like this’ is always my mantra of doing things even now. It’s very easy to list out advices that look good in print. It’s not easy to do what you do when you’re doing it at a very young age, all by yourself. Having said that I really think that being truthful and honest to yourself and to your craft is very very important to a very fragile and a feeble craft (art) of acting. It’s easier said than done, but quite possible to practice.
What matters the most while selecting a project to work on?
Story and the script. First and foremost. Rest all is secondary, really.
Could you tell us a little about your character in Aliya Basu Gayab Hai?
It’s a peculiar story and quite a twisted character. Such grays appeal to me a lot. A tinted, chipped, vulnerable character stuck in a peculiar situation, is like an ocean of possibilities for me as an actor in telling that story. I love such processes.
What drove you to Aliya Basu Gayab Hai?
It’s a thriller of a very different kind. It’s a three character film. A kidnapping gone wrong, and so does the relationship between these three characters. It’s really interesting. Also It’s an official remake of a Dutch film. When I read the adapted script I saw an numerous possibilities to enjoy telling this tale. The first time I met the producer and the director, I liked their enthusiasm and zeal for a small film like this. Working with Raima again was definitely a pleasure too. Salim Dewan is the other actor and I was working with him for the very first time.
What’s next for you?
There are few web ones and a few films. These are very exciting times for actors. There are so many things and possibilities. Seriously! Look around and so much is happening. Different kind of cinema. Web. Short films. I am constantly reading scripts. And let me tell you I love reading those scripts. Each and every one of them. Even the ones that I know I won’t be available to make, I still do finish reading the scripts. And of course Theatre! I still do theatre extensively. I make time for it. It’s like second home. Currently we’re traveling with 4 different plays. Hopefully by the end of the year we start work on a new one. Fingers crossed.
An experience in your experience that changed the way you look at things.
My two daughters coming into my life and blessing it with their angelic presence and beauty. I don’t know if I’d have understood love and beauty, and grace and joy, the way I do now, and that’s solely because of them. I look at things with a whole different perspective now. I feel very fortunate and blessed to have them in my life. They’ve enriched it and how!
Text Priyanshi Jain