Impossible to be cocky about an enigma like acting: Vinay Pathak

Mumbai, Jun 7 (PTI) Actor Vinay Pathak says every role requires a performer to be completely honest to the art, and the process is so scary and mysterious, it's impossible to ever feel sure about one's capabilities.

Starting his acting career in the late 1990s — juggling small appearances in films and television shows —Pathak soon earned the tag of TV's funny man.

Big screen fame, however, eluded him until Dibakar Banerjee's acclaimed 2006 comedy 'Khosla Ka Ghosla', which earned him recognition and finally with 'Bheja Fry' in 2007, Pathak 'arrived' in the industry.

Twenty years and memorable performances in films like 'Johnny Gaddar', 'Island City' and 'Badlapur' later, the actor said he is yet to feel confident about his craft.

'It's so easy to be cocky about anything. But when you actually get into the details, you realise there's so much to discover. It has been 20 years and I'm still discovering so many things. Till today I feel 'Oh my God I was so clueless about this',' Pathak told PTI in an interview.

He recalled something his late friend, actor Irrfan would often say about acting: 'Let's find out what exactly this is, it's such a mystery.' 'I feel acting is an enigma. It's not about delivering a line, it's about the honesty behind it that you've put in a character... It's also so freaky because you've to play different characters, live a reality for imaginary situations.

'How can you be cocky about something you don't have any idea about? In this craft, whoever uses the word 'confidence' must be a great marketing guy. The word is 'vulnerable', which all humans are.' Pathak said he aims to tap into this vulnerability in all his performances. It isn't just about getting a character's accent right, Pathak said, but taking a deep dive into the headspace of the part.

That is why, the 51-year-old actor said, he's 'always nervous' the first few days of a shoot.

'My reaction to a situation my character is in, when I'm not shooting, would be cliched. But when I'm on the floor and reacting physically, things change. I don't like to pretend. I like to be honest about that imaginary circumstance and that's the key for me. That's the soul.

'If I am not emotionally honest about anything the character does, then I'm cheating myself, the director, film and the audience. And I don't like to cheat.' Pathak is currently basking in the glory of his latest, 'Chintu Ka Birthday', which released on ZEE5.

Written and directed by Devanshu Kumar and Satyanshu Singh, the comedy-drama chronicles the story of the six-year-old Chintu in Iraq with his family, whose birthday celebration is interrupted by war.

The actor said when the script came his way, he read it twice just to take in the sheer brilliance Devanshu and Satyanshu had infused the story with.

'I told them to involve me in anything for the film, workshops, auditions, whatever it takes, I'd do it. These two talented gentlemen bring so much joy. The script was brimming with positivity.' The script assisted Pathak in getting every nuance right for his character of Chintu's father, Madan Tiwary.

What also helped was the decision of the directors to ask the cast to spend time in the house a day before the shoot, so that no one feels 'too alien' with the space.

'We lived moments as that family in the house. The language was the easiest for me because I come from Bihar. But a character doesn't just stop at a dialect. It's about the soulfulness of the character and here, the family. All of that helped,' he added.

The film also stars Tillotama Shome, Seema Pahwa and Vedant Chibber. PTI JUR RDS SHD SHD