He is dressed in black and sports a hat, and if I am to be blamed for wanting to burst into a fit of laughter, I am ready to face my judgement. Stereotyped as a funny man, this actor is funny alright, but there’s a brilliant actor lurking somewhere, in those lovely crease lines that appear on his face when he smiles, and this interview seeks to discover that very, Vinay Pathak.
ME: You are considered to be the king of subtle humour, how do you react to that tag?
VP: I have no issues with it whatsoever, and if my fans think I’m worthy of such a tag, I am humble and privileged. I am however very conscientiously trying to not let myself get stereotyped, which is why I’ve tried every possible role offered as long as it’s interesting enough.
ME: Which character is the closest to what you are in real life?
VP: None of them actually. Vinay Pathak the actor is whoever the role wants him to be. Vinay Pathak the person is still a mystery to most (smiles).
ME: So you’re not a funny guy in real life?
VP: Am I? (stares and laughs) I don’t know (smiles).
ME: What is that one role you wished you had played?
VP: I always wanted to play Saif’s role in Omkara. I love that character, but Saif got to it before me. Such characters are immortalized. It’s like Manmohan Desai and Shakespeare are the same person – Creating characters that entertain and can never be forgotten. These characters are so deep, so full of life, it’s amazing. I hope someone doesn’t get to play my favourite character from The Tempest before I do, but that’s surely another character I’d love to play.
ME: You are everywhere, how come?
VP: Bheja Fry made me sell-able. I am now a sure profit and directors and producers don’t mind making a film with me in the main role, as they’re convinced I’ll make the money they want, and I am happy I can do that.
ME: Do you agree that you are a multiplex actor?
VP: As much as I hate that tag, that is the future! Yes, my films will take forever to reach a stage where I’ll have loyal audiences at all levels, but that isn’t frightening anymore, with multiplexes seeming to be the future of cinema viewing in the country.
ME: When did your career begin and how?
VP: My first film was Fire with Deepa Mehta, where I played a small role and then I did a few roles in films like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Jism. I started turning down such roles only for the fear of being stereotyped in roles I didn’t really care for.
ME: Any South Indian stints?
VP: Yes, in 1995 I clearly remember I was offered a role in a movie with Charu Hassan, and was asked to arrive at Coimbatore for the music release. I couldn’t pay for the tickets and they refused to pay for it too. Later I realised that I lost the role. I wouldn’t mind a role down south in any language as long as it reads well.
ME: Any other releases we can look forward to this year?
VP: Lots! And guess what in 80 per cent of them I’m playing the leading role. You can look forward to Sourav Shrivastava’s Oh My God, Straight from iDreams directed by Parvati Balagopalan, SRK a remake of a Malayalam movie by Ajay Verma, Mumbai Chakachak from Suniel Shetty’s Popkorn films, Raat Gayi Baat Gayi from PNC with Rajat Kapoor and another film with Rajpal Yadav. That’s nine releases in all (smiles).
ME: Finally, what’s with the chemistry with Ranvir Shorey?
VP: We are 'just' good friends (laughs). We are completely diverse personalities, but when were thrown together in one scene the magic just happens. Like in that Channel V show House Arrest, where a bit of it was us as characters, but most of it was just spontaneous. We have chemistry and it’s brilliant it works (smiles).
I take leave of the madman and as much as I would love to keep talking to the actor who knows what he wants, he hurries away for a photo shoot. Don’t forget to catch him in his next release via Darjeeling, where he is more than a saving grace.