Director Anant Mahadevan is back with a new bio-pic, Gaur Hari Dastaan – The Freedom File (GHD-TFF), which is about the life of Orissa’s freedom fighter, Gaur Hari Das. Vinay Pathak plays Das and ages 35 years over the course of the film. To bring the character to life on-screen, the actor had to change his physical appearance as well as his screen image.
Mahadevan says, “Vinay has this funny guy image, but this film will change that perception. To understand the character, he met Mr Das, who is now 80 years old.” Old photographs of Das revealed that at 35, he had a tuft of hair, but by 70, he was bald. Mahadevan insisted he didn’t want to use prosthetics, so Vinay had to shave his head for the role.
“Make-up artist Santosh Gayke did a fabulous job of making Vinay look old, adding wrinkles and crows-feet under his eyes. It’s so realistic, you can’t see it with the naked eye. In an age when filmmakers are dependent on prosthetics and technology, which at times can look fake, we went without it,” says Mahadevan.
Vinay also went through a rigorous weight-loss regime, and lost 10 kilos for the role. “Das was always quite thin. So Vinay’s workout regime had to be a manic one. Even after shooting ended at 9 pm, he would go for a workout to maintain his frame. I wouldn’t say he worked hard; it was more like he tortured himself to get into shape!
Vinay’s image as a comic actor has also been made over. Mahadevan says, “Vinay won’t be spewing comic dialogues or making weird faces in GHD-TFF. The film is a political satire and the humour cannot be over-the-top.”
Dealing with a subject as serious as this, the tone of the film is vital. Mahadevan shares a scene from the film to make his point about Vinay’s role: “When Das goes to get the freedom fighter’s certificate, the collector asks him ‘Where have you fought from?’ and he replies, ‘Orissa’. So the officer retorts, ‘Go and get it from there’. Das’s reply is ‘I fought for a country, not a state.’”