Art & Entertainment

Vinay Pathak: Talents Come From Everywhere, Why Make Theatre The Only Breeding Place

In an interview with Outlook, Vinay Pathak talks about Zee Theatre's curated collection of dramatic readings 'Koi Baat Chale', Munshi Premchand's writing style, and if theatre still holds relevance

Bollywood actor Vinay Pathak actors

Actor Vinay Pathak is one of the narrators of Zee Theatre's curated collection of dramatic readings 'Koi Baat Chale' that presents Munshi Premchand's classic tales 'Idgah' and 'Gulli Danda'. Staying true to Zee Theatre’s promise of 'Har Din Naya Drama', the series 'Koi Baat Chale' is an anthology of timeless tales about human foibles, loss, pride, the search for love, and the true meaning of friendship and generosity. These two episodes, 'Idgah' and 'Gulli Danda' exemplify the variety and richness of subcontinental literature and are directed by film, television, and theatre veteran Seema Pahwa. It is currently being aired on Tata Play Theatre and Tata Play Mobile App.

In an interview with Outlook, Vinay Pathak talks about the new format, Munshi Premchand's writing style, the experience of being a part of their work, and why such a project is relevant today.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q.  How important as an actor for you to be part of Zee Theatre's anthology Koi Baat Chale

VP: It’s a dramatic reading of the classic tales. It’s great fun and a very enriching experience because I have grown up reading Premchand and particularly love 'Idgah.' It has been wonderful to work once again with an accomplished and intuitive director like Seema Pahwa.

Q. The series will feature two classic tales by Munshi Premchand- Idgah and Gulli Danda. Would you like to talk about the inspiration these two stalwarts had in your life both as a person and as an actor?

VP: As I said, I have grown up reading 'Idgah' and this is a story that is very close to my heart. It reminds me of my own childhood and my relationship with my grandmother. Reading it for 'Koi Baat Chale' was both nostalgic and fulfilling. I always recited and narrated stories in school as well and so revisiting that experience professionally was very exciting.

Q. Why do you think such projects are relevant today?

VP: I don’t really think much about the relevance of projects and concentrate more on the joy of telling and hearing stories via different and exciting mediums. 'Koi Baat Chale' is however an important project because it strives to revive interest in the forgotten legacy of our literary heritage.

Q. Would you like to talk about the relevance of theatres in today’s time especially when the new generation of actors is mostly from Bollywood families?

I find this whole debate very dated and boring already. There’s no predefined template for anyone to be an actor. Anyone and everyone have the right to become an actor or an artist.

Q. How important is it for actors to understand the value of theatre exposure and do you think the film industry today gives an advantage to such talents who belong to theatres?

VP: Theatre or stagecraft is just another medium of storytelling. I am from a theatre background hence I am familiar with what it entails. It’s a very physically challenging and daunting medium, but very exciting and rewarding at the same time. But to say that it is the only way to harness talent is again I feel a rather dated debate. Talents come from everywhere and from every ethnicity, society, community, group, gender, etc. Why make theatre the only breeding place of talent? I’ve known some actors who’ve never been on stage or done theatre and they’re brilliant in films.

Q. Is there any role that you have performed in the theatre that you would like to play on the big screen?

VP: There’s an adaptation of 'King Lear' directed by Rajat Kapoor that I would love to see on the big screen because it’s a story that is just aching to be told. The script is in the process of being finalised as we speak. Fingers crossed, hopefully, we get to make that soon.

Q. Taking about your Bollywood career, you have been tagged as one of the most versatile actors of all time. However, do you think that the roles that are given to you didn’t justify your true potential and there is much more that you could have offered?

VP: Not at all. Most of the time I feel elated and overjoyed with the work that I’ve gotten and the opportunities that have come my way. I feel very fortunate and privileged, to be honest.

Q. In the time and age of OTT, do you think more talents got easy access to get that chance and be the winner

VP: Let’s not mar the accomplishments and the achievements of the people who are successful today on OTT or social media or anywhere. We never get to see the process, only results and it’s unfair to discredit their success and say that only because of streaming platforms, they are succeeding. I am in awe of, and very proud of the talents we have on our OTT and social media today.


Q. What else is keeping you busy?

A lot of theatre, cinematic work, and travel.