KARACHI: Indian actor Vinay Pathak has truly proved his mettle, essaying a variety of characters in both mainstream and parallel cinema.
Perhaps best known for playing Bharat Bhushan in 2007’s Bheja Fry, the actor recently visited Pakistan for the first time, as part of the Pakistan International Film Festival (PiFF) which concluded on April 1.
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The four-day event brought a bunch of international film-makers, actors and artists to Karachi to celebrate cinema, interact with members of the Pakistani entertainment industry and exchange stories and ideas.
Speaking with The Express Tribune, Pathak emphasised the need for platforms like PiFF to encourage the cultural exchange between India and Pakistan. “I think for the exchange of cinema, music and literature, festivals like this should happen more often,” he said.
“Everything is similar here, we’re the same people. No difference, emphatically. We speak the same language, listen to the same music, eat the same food, and play the same cricket. We need to find a way to be in each other’s lives more as it’s going to enrich us. People from both sides of the border are willing. So we should find ways to do exchanges and travel.”
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Reminiscing about the 10 years he spent in New York, Pathak said he learned a little bit of Punjabi from his Pakistani friends there. “Most of my friends were from Lahore and Karachi. And we also used to exchange VHS tapes and through them, I watched many old Pakistani films and dramas,” revealed the Bollywood star. He mentioned that he watched Shoaib Mansoor’s Bol several years ago. “It was fantastic! I was spellbound.”
As part of PiFF, Pathak also got to watch the new Sanam Saeed, Aamina Sheikh and Adnan Malik-starrer Cake. “I loved it! It was so refreshing and honestly speaking, I was pleasantly shocked and surprised. It’s a film which breaks so many norms and stereotypes, not just in Pakistan but in Indian films as well,” Pathak stated.
“You see such an evolved disposition of your story with the characters. You’re not judging your characters based on what they do and say. The performances and music were brilliant. And each and every actor was there; they believed in that world they created.”
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As he left the cinema after Cake’s premiere, a sizeable crowd of fans seized him outside. The Khosla Ka Ghosla actor appreciated all the love though. “It was such that I felt this can happen in Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta or anywhere in India. There is nothing drastically different from India here,” he said.
Talking about his much-acclaimed film Dasvidaniya, Pathak revealed the film was the closest to him because it was the only one he had produced. He emphasised the need for experimental films but admitted it was relatively difficult to find funding for them. “The only way to do it is to just do it. People are even shooting films on iPhone these days.”
As for his next offering Toba Tek Singh, he shared it was originally part of the Zee TV’s Zeal for Unity project, which gathered several film-makers from India and Pakistan and bring them together for cinema. “But you know how things happen in politics? Suddenly, the project was halted,” Pathak lamented.
Asked if he would be open to working in Pakistani projects, Pathak responded, “Of course, why not? I met some producers and studio people and they asked the same question. I told them, ‘Lure me with your script and I’ll be your bunny’.”
On a parting note, Pathak said, “Thank you, Pakistan. Thank you for being so amazing!”
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