Friday, 10 April 2009

"It took almost a year for me to get my butt into shape", Vinay Pathak

by Devansh Patel

The last time we met Vinay Pathak for a casual chat, he ordered for some tea and sanwiches at the Mehboob studio where he was found in his pink overcoat going all topsy turvy in an exclusive photoshoot happening for his 'tedhi medhi' film Straight, which brings me back to Derek Jarman's quote "All men are homosexual, some turn straight. We too came up with our own - 'Homosexuals will always think straight'. 'Not bad huh? Of course, that was our first of the fifteen questions which the comic genius 'Pinu Patel' answered. Actor Vinay Pathak has been making audiences laugh for years now but the star says he's really a 'weird serious person'. Now that wasn't a straight forward quote, was it? Even though we shared the same attraction (not sexually) for cinema, but at times our thought process went beserk. Not so straight questions desreved not so straight answers. But what stands true for Pathak is that he re-invigorated the Indian comedy to such an extent that his success proved once and for all that Indians do have a mighty appreciation of irony. Wearing a smile on his face, he makes it known that he enjoys doing interviews, not because it gives him a chance to try out his latest jokes but because it's a form of therapy. Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent and UK's Harrow Observer columnist Devansh Patel talks to the outrageous comic stripper (he strips his jokes) Vinay Pathak, an actor who brings a smile on your face with his oily hair style rather than look all 'punked'. Yeah Baby! his crushed velvet suits, hot-babe girlfriends and boyfriends, naughty knob-gags, Straight and Pinu Patel are on the verge of becoming the most recognisable entertainers on this planet in days to come. For our readers now, here's a peek into this straight lifestyle, comic career, diverse roles, inherent humour, homosexual community, the beautiful Gul Panag, his bheja frying abilities and an exclusive answer to how he got his 'butt' into shape.

Have you ever thought straight in your life?

(laughs) I've always been focused when it comes to my acting career. I like to foucs is still a very relative term for me. I also like to enjoy my work, be it Bheja Fry or Straight. I try to give 200% and enjoy the entire percentage.

You've mentioned to the Press before that Straight is a kind of a romantic comedy which has never been made in India. Then is this the best ever comic genre film out of Bollywood?
It is not to beat our own drums saying that this is the best comic film ever made. I'm saying that a story like Straight has never been showcased on our screen before, and when I say that, I mean, a story of such complexity and simplicity and a story of an alternative lifestyle with the protagonist going through so many questions and confusions has never been made before in Bollywood.

Is this a new comic niche that you've performed in your comic career?

(laughs) See, again, I wouldn't want to put a label here. I think whatever my character needed to be, I tried to be and whatever the story asked, I gave. Whatever the film and the director demanded, I did it with the best possible talent I had. It's very easy to say for the audiences that Straight is a very niche film with niche performances. No, I wouldn't want to say that. The moment I say that Straight is a niche film, it has a slight negativity to it and it no longer is universal. I don't think it's a film made for a specific audience.

Was there a point when you realised that humour was so inherent a part of Pinu Patel?

It's not important to say 'ha ha' to get into humour. Pinu Patel's inherent humour was in the script. It isn't an out and out comedy. It's a film with a very unique and an unusual story. I've tried to tell the story the way it had to be told, and in that, you have some light hearted moments, and that's a mark of any good story that it makes you go through the right emotions.

Johnny Gaddar, Dasvidaniya, Straight. How diverse can you get as a performer?

As long as I keep getting diverse scripts (laughs). or any actor for that matter. I'm sure any actor would love to indulge in a script which has a strong character sketch. It's all a big 'Thank You' to the different kind of films that came my way along with different type of characters.

Let us be a bit humourous here. How did you get your 'butt' in shape for Straight?

(laughs) I did lots of Yoga. I changed my lifestyle a little bit. It's a combination of Pranayama, walking, drinking lots of water and staying fit and fine. It took me almost a year to get my butt into shape.

Straight is not going to go too far to make its audiences burst out into laughter. That's what we've predicted through your answers till now.

Yes, it isn't going to make people go mad, they may get even (laughs). It's a sensible cinema. There are situations where, if the audiences wish, they may laugh out loud and roll on the floor. I've seen the film couple of times and it's a great comic film with loads of fun filled moments.

The homosexual community put in their request to see the film too?

Yes, we did get a request from the homosexual community to see the film. We didn't have a problem with that because we weren't hiding anything or trying to conceal anything from any community. If a hetrosexual community would've approached us to see the film due to some reasons best known to them, we would've agreed to them too. In the past too, the gay community had some reservations to their portrayal in many films. So if they wanted to see the film, why should we have any problem. They have all the rights to see the film before it releases.

Did you relate a lot to the London ambience as to our Indian setting in order to get into your character?

For us, it was very simple. Straight is an Indian film with a foreign location. That's it. If the same film was shot in the South of India too, nothing would've changed except the location. London was a great backdrop though and we needed to have that space and time to be familiar with ourselves for the film. As a matter of fact, we shot the film in 29 days at a stretch in London.

How straight forward was Gul Panag?

(laughs) You are not being too straight here, are you? (laughs). I've worked with Gul Panag earlier in Manorama Six Feet Under but we never had a scene together. We have been good friends. This is the first time we two have got the oppurtunity to work together in one frame. The experience was fabulous. She is such a professional actor, such a talented actor, such well travelled, such well read, such well spoken, such an intelligent actor and above all, she is such a beautiful woman. With so many qualities to her, I'm sure the experience was worth the wait.

Is it lot funnier playing a gujarati gay. Oops, sorry...a gujarati guy just because London is filled with gujju's?

The fact that Pinu Patel is a gujarati is incidental here. It's not a deliberate attempt to have a gujju playing the lead role. Pinu could've been from any other religion. It did make sense having a gujarati guy because the story was written with Pinu Patel in mind. It's what a gujarati mind represents but not representative of a gujarati community at all.

How different is it to be working with Aditya Chopra in Rab Ne and Parvati Balagopalan in Straight?

As a matter of fact, if you do two films with the same director, even that brings about a change. A director in one film and a director in another film are two different people making two different stories. If you're trying to compare Parvati with any other director, of course the diversity would be there. She has done a fabulous job in Straight. All the directors with whom I've worked have never crossed each others path. I mean, they're all different, and that's what makes each film of mine exciting.

After frying our bheja's in Bheja fry and eating a lot of maalpua's in Manorama, are the audiences ready to be deep fried again?

(laughs) I've not got the intentions of frying anyone here. It was solely to tell our story which is an interesting story told in a very interesting way, thanks to Parvati. The idea of Straight is to entertain, plain and simple.

Do you think comedy has got it's sensitive nature?

I'd like to think so because it's one of the emotions. The emotions come from sentiments, be it your mind, your body or your intelligence. All have got its sentiments in place.

One last straight messsage.

Straight is not a slapstick and a boisterous comedy

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