It goes to his credit that any character played by Pavan Malhotra gets etched in the memory, his latest being Gurdev Singh, the Sikh army man-cum-coach of Milkha Singh (played by Farhan Akhtar) in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. But, Pavan does not think it can be termed as anything ‘great’, for he believes that “it is the duty of an actor to remain true to his or her role.”
In Amritsar to shoot for a Punjabi film titled Eh Janam Tumhare Lekhe, which is based on the life of Bhagat Puran Singh, a philanthropist who started Pingalwara, a home for the homeless and destitute in Amritsar, Pavan feels "blessed" to be playing Bhagat Puran Singh and being a part of a film that would inspire the world towards the path of philanthropy. Pavan says he has always enjoyed shooting in Punjab and enacting the role of a Punjabi. "Through my films, I have explored different cities, towns and villages of Punjab which have really touched me since people here offer amazing hospitality. I must add that their hearts are bigger than their chests," smiles the actor who recently wrapped the shoot of a Punjabi film in which he plays a prominent role and which is based on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
Born and bought up in Delhi, Pavan graduated in 1980 from Hansraj College, where he was always more active on stage than in the classroom. Based in Mumbai now, the actor says he was initially not certain that he would get so deeply involved in theatre. However, Pavan says he owes his his success as an actor to his 10-year-long association with theatre. “Theatre makes for a perfect base for any actor. It is very meaningful and teaches a lot, especially how one can get into the character. But this works only if one is passionate about it,” he says. In Delhi, Pavan was a part of different theatre groups that “gave him high exposure and experience.”
The actor is equally vociferous about the importance of following one’s passion for life to be beautiful and satisfying. “Had I not been an actor, I would have been looking after my father’s business of machine tools, which I believe would not have been my cup of tea at all. After all, you can take a horse to the water, but you cannot make him drink,” he adds.
Pavan recalls the best compliment he has recieved so far. “Recently at the Delhi airport, an aged sardar hugged me and said that I have represented the Sikh community in films in an amazing manner. This was an honour for me and my work,” he says.