In the present ages when long due enlightenment has finally caught up with the masses, offbeat is the USP that drives everyone to euphoria. Offbeat has not tended to remain as few and far between as it always had been, what with changing preferences and passions making less tried and tested formulas the new winners. Ironically thus, as offbeat ceases to remain more behind the shades of obliviousness, what we look for is performance and concepts that are intricately eked out, instead of showering attention only on stories less told and roads less traveled.
The mainstream cinematic scene in the country does indeed boast of more than just a couple presences who are genuine masters in their craft. While new age actors have been emerging as talents who can really emote and enact, the game still has veterans who are as much a force as any other to be reckoned with.
One such name that immediately strikes as being one among the most commendable of the lot is Vinay Pathak. You might remember him as the naive and irritating Bharat Bhushan from the comedy film franchisee Bheja Fry but that’s not all there is to one among the finest of the versatile actors in the country.
He has set irrevocably brilliant standards for the comedy genre when it comes to films in India. Be it the part streaks of humour in the character he played in Chalo Dilli or his comic avatar in the brilliant Khosla ka Ghosla, Pathak has been rib tickling at his best. But that does not stop the man from pursuing varied genres and interests in his capacities as an actor. Because as he says himself, he is “committed to the job more than the genre”.
However, the tag of funnyman attached to his credibilities as an actor project Vinay Pathak as mainly a comic actor, someone who can make you feel light hearted, but might not appeal so much with a serious stance. Even Pathak himself acknowledges the label he is stereotyped under, maintaining that even Hollywood falls into this trap of ‘branding’ actors. He does not blame the audience though, for he knows that the only way out of this typecasting is to prove himself in those roles that people would not generally attribute to him.
And indeed he has done this more than once with his characteristic flair. Versatile and effortless, Pathak’s range of histrionic exploits ensure that in all his characters, he is the real man behind it. Even when he played the role of freedom fighter Gour Hari Das in his biopic film Gour Hari Dastaan, Pathak was so efficient in his impersonification that even the understated nature of the acting prowess that he reflects make it more than a convincing watch to be lauded.
Even his role of a gambler in Johnny Gaddaar or the compromised cop that he played with restraint in Manorama Six Feet Under have unveiled such flexible allowance on Pathak’s part that one cannot simply categorise him as a light hearted actor even when is adept at eliciting laughs with his perfect comic timing.
But even when you remember Pathak for his memorable performances in Dasvidaniya, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi or Oh My God or his more notable ones in Bheja Fry and Bheja Fry 2, the actress has dazzled his way even in the international realm. His portrayal of Hari Das fetched him the best actor award at Paris’ Extravagant India: International Indian Film Festival. His Indo-German film Dust which has the Maoist conflict in India as its backdrop premiered to critical acclaim at the Berlin International Film Festival 2019.
Perhaps Pathak’s impeccable and versatile acting stems from him being a student of the stage. Even in his Bollywood presence, Pathak continues to nurture and hone his talents on stage. Theater and plays appeal to him for they let him constantly evolve while connecting to the audience on a more intimate level. But as a true artiste, Pathak does not really prefer one medium over another.
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Pathak is equally at ease with his acting prowess on stage as he is on screen. For someone who started out with television, Vinay Pathak regards highly even of the small screen and is forever open to return to TV for doing anything substantial. In fact, everything appeals to Pathak as long as it is some decent thoughts nicely penned down and scripted, As an actor, Pathak believes a good script also brings out the best of performances.
Pathak has been equally memorable in his stint on television. The Great Indian Comedy Show, Hip Hip Hurray, Kahaani Puri Filmi Hai, Har Ghar Kuch Kehta Hain are some of Pathak’s proportionately epic works on television.
For someone who displays such phenomenal command over acting, you would expect that Vinay Pathak has been a man forever motivated by the art and craft of the trade. Surprisingly though, Pathak discovered the magic in acting at a fairly ‘advanced’ stage of life. It was only when he was pursuing his higher studies in a business school in New York that Pathak was enamored by the stage. While watching a play there, Pathak found his calling in acting and the very next semester he change his major and got enrolled at drama school.
It is ironic to credit the man whose acting love does not have eternity written all over it as the harbinger of the comedy movement in India. But someone who aced all the way through making Bheja Fry a viral hit at the time when viral was not even a thing, Vinay Pathak sure is a phenomenon who does not need an obsession to find outlet for his artistic talents.