Vinay Pathak was so moved by the inspiring story of Gour Hari Das that it didn't take much time for him to accept the title role in Ananth Mahadevan's upcoming biopic Gour Hari Dastaan, based on the life of the freedom fighter from Odisha. "There was something very tragicomic about his struggle. It's sad that even after serving his country, Das ji had to fight a 32-year-long battle to prove his identity," says Pathak. The actor spoke to HT City on his upcoming film, theatre and more.
Did you meet Gaur Hari Das before you started shooting for the film?
Yes, that's was the best way I could do my research. We met quite a few times. I met him before the final script was written, while it was being written and even after that. What I liked about Ananth was that he would consult Das ji at every step and by doing so he kept things very real even while making a fictional account of the story for screen.
You shaved you hair and even shed a few kilos for the role.
The physical transformations are usually important depending on the role. At times it becomes tough but nevertheless it also fun. During the shooting of the film, I used to get my hair shaved everyday and that is something I would never have experienced otherwise. Trying to look the part is tricky because you have to be careful about the mimicry and the reality of things.
You are known for playing comic roles, but this role is a complete switch. Do you feel this film will change your image as an actor?
(Smiles) I never thought about that in particular. I still don't. It's foolish not to think and preempt people's reaction to your work beforehand. I feel, as an actor I should be able to portray every character, be it serious or comic. I believe in giving my best and then move on.
This entire process of shooting and interacting with Das ji has definitely made me a more conscientious person. He continues to motivate me. He reminds me of my father. The only difference is that my father was an angry diligent man, and Das ji is cool as cucumber.
Watch: Gour Hari Dastaan trailer
How was it working with your friends, Konkona Sen Sharma and Ranvir Shorey?
It's always a blessing to work with your friends. Ranvir and Koko are my family in Mumbai. We are even neighbours. I also made new friends like Tannishtha, with whom I had not worked earlier. She is a wonderful actor. I had earlier worked with Alphonse Roy (cinematographer) in a short film directed by Revathy. So, it was like a reunion with him. Resul (Pookutty) and I are friends for ages, as we started our careers together. There were other actors such as Vikram Gokhale, Vipin Sharma, Rajit Kapoor and Saurabh Shukla. We know each other for a long time and shooting was more like a reunion.
How is Ananth Mahadevan as a director? Were you skeptical working with him given that his last few films didn't do well at the box office?
Ananth is a visionary and a gentleman. He's the gentlest, soft-spoken, funny and witty director I've ever worked with. The fact that he's an actor himself helped a lot. Do you really think that a box office collection would be a decider for me to select a film? (Smiles) No! Never!
What are your upcoming films and plays?
I have just finished shooting for Mehran Amrohi's film. My next, directed by Ruchika Oberoi, releases soon. Both are debutants and I love working with new visionaries. Nothing like Lear, an adaptation of King Lear and Hamlet, The Clown Prince, are the two plays I am currently performing. Talks are on for a new play too.
Any plans of directing a film?
Yes, I plan to direct a film soon. I am in the process of writing a script.
Read: Actor Vinay Pathak weaves jacket for Narendra Modi