While a number of filmmakers are trying to walk the fine line between commercial and content-driven cinema, few are successful in doing so. Many also look towards small town settings to bring in the authentic flavour, but it takes an experienced and visionary filmmaker like Vishal Bhardwaj to deliver a film as raw as Pataakha.
Inspired by Charan Singh Pathik's short story Do Behnein, the film features Sanya Malhotra and Radhika Madan in the lead. But it is Vishal's imagination that gave birth to a character like Dipper Naradmuni, who is both naive and a conman at the same time. And who better than actor-comedian Sunil Grover to add more layers and flavours to it.
"Dipper wasn't there in the original story, it is written and manufactured by Vishal sir. It was a challenge for me to understand, why is this guy doing what he is doing. Also, that realisation, of how much of the character I needed to give to the audience, was difficult. But sir knew exactly what he wanted from the film and the character," said Sunil.
In the film, he plays a nosy neighbour who is always on the lookout for an opportunity to make the sisters go to war. In the entire film, he comes across as a cunning fellow but never an evil character the audience would hate. Detailing the character, he said, "Very interesting as a character, Dipper is provoking the sisters for a fight just for the sake of entertainment and not because he is malicious. He makes them fight, but again, he will be there to help them till the very end."
"In a number of scenes, I ensured that the character was grey and not black or white. I made sure that in the backdrop of comedy I keep a layer of grey shades," he added.
The actor acknowledges the fact that the audience has loved him for his comic gigs but that doesn't make him reluctant to choose his roles. He believes that fans accept freshness. "I think the audience kind of accepts freshness. However, as an actor, you cannot judge if the audience will like a particular project or not. But that thought shouldn't stop you from experimenting," said Sunil.
Being the prankster he is, he was quite like his reel character on the sets of the film, trying to stir up a war between the leading ladies. He said, "Sanya, Radhika and I used to have a lot of fun on the sets. I used to provoke them, but of course, in a funny manner. After sometime they understood I am trying to pull a prank."
Sunil is nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category for Pataakha at the upcoming REEL Movie Awards 2019, an initiative by News18 to recognise and reward content-driven cinema. Talking about his nomination, he said, "I appreciate and thank News18 for acknowledging content-driven cinema, because it motivates artistes who want to create good content and pushes them to keep doing something new and fresh."
"The nomination is a pleasant surprise for me because somewhere I thought my role went unnoticed," he added.
Despite having acted in films since 1998, it was Kapil Sharma's show that made Sunil, rather Gutthi, a household name. His cross-dressing act was a huge hit among the audience, so much so, that Gutthi the character became part of stage shows even outside of Comedy Nights With Kapil. Sunil says that he realised that he has finally made it as an artiste when he stepped on stage one day dressed as Gutthi. "I went on stage during a show, and there was a loud cheer. I turned around to see who the audience was cheering for, was there a big star behind me? I couldn't believe that the cheer was for me. That was one moment which I'll remember for a long time," he concluded.
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