Pratik Gandhi: 'It’s Magical That I Am Playing Gandhi On Screen’

Pratik Gandhi: 'It’s Magical That I Am Playing Gandhi On Screen’

Pratik Gandhi gets candid about playing Mahatma Gandhi in an upcoming biopic on the Father of the Nation

Dinesh RahejaUpdated: Sunday, June 02, 2024, 12:35 AM IST
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Kamaldeep

“Pratik’s pitching of the character and the detailed subtext he brings to his portrayals are signs of a remarkable actor,” observes director Ananth Mahadevan, who has just directed the actor in the  biopic, Phule. Pratik Gandhi is currently bringing these attributes to another biopic. He is in the UK shooting for Gandhi, helmed by Hansal Mehta, for whom he has become a regular muse. Pratik’s powerhouse performance in his Scam 92 propelled him to fame, and now Gandhi marches on.

Excerpts from an interview:

Tell us about portraying Gandhi under Hansal Mehta’s direction.

Gandhi is the biggest project of my life in terms of the character I am playing, the story, the scale... I had always been fascinated by Gandhi’s character, his life journey, and his experiences. I don’t see it as anything less than magical that I am playing Gandhi on screen and that too with my wife Bhamini playing Kasturba. My real-life wife is playing my reel-life wife too. It’s all a blessing.

What is your perception of Gandhi?

I am impressed by the way he shaped his life after all the failures and all the struggles that he had. He is a superhuman who is more human than all of us. He lived like a common man but he was very uncommon. He used his setbacks to create the life he wanted.

Is there any one predominant quality which you share with Gandhi?

His simplicity. I am a very simple person.

How have you been preparing yourself for the title role in this elaborately mounted show?

For the last nine years now, I have been performing a play on Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, which is a monologue. That helped get into it deeper and experience this character even more closely. 

Does Hansal Mehta believe in spelling out and discussing the motivation of each scene in detail? 

Gandhi is my fourth project with Hansal sir and I would say our working relationship is more intuitively collaborative. I do not remember us discussing anything in detail or doing thin slicing of certain scenes. Our working relationship is based on mutual understanding because we have worked together so often now. From the way he announces ‘Cut’ after every scene, I understand whether it works or it does not work and whether he requires a second take or not. We do not even have to communicate much verbally and that’s the best part of our collaboration.

How has your life changed in the four years since you achieved a breakthrough with the success of Scam 1992?

Drastically. You can divide the phases of my life into pre-Scam days and post-Scam.

Has your holiday destination changed from Matheran to Manhattan?

(Laughs) I haven’t had the time to go to Mahableshwar or Matheran. I have always combined work with holidays. Currently too, I am in the UK for the shooting of Gandhi. My wife Bhamini is with me, and our daughter is joining us soon.

In your recent release Do Aur Do Pyar you were cast opposite a star for the first time. Were you comfortable doing intimate scenes with Vidya Balan? 

She is a star and an actor I admire. But she made it all so easy. She was laughing and talking from day one. She is a sweetheart.

2024 has been an active one for you. Madgaon Express surpassed expectations with its decent response…

When I heard the first narration of the film’s story, I laughed. And I had a gut feeling that the audience would laugh too. The film had elements of slapstick; we were on a slippery zone but we pulled it off.

What is your take on the eternal debate: Is comedy easier to enact or drama?

Drama is easier. Comedy can be easy too if you are selfless. Comedy is generally applauded but hardly respected.

Dedh Bigha Zameen will be your third release this year. Has it taken inspiration from the 1953 classic Do Bigha Zameen? 

Not at all. It’s about a brother seeking justice; he wants the land-grabbers to return his dedh bigha zameen which he had planned on selling to pay for his sister’s dowry. One of my favourite lines from the film is about the resilience of the common man. He challenges, “Haalat se ladenge, kanoon se ladenge, vyavastha se ladenge ... Saala umeed nahin chhodna chahiye.”

Do you think Gandhi will scale the same highs that Scam did?

Creatively speaking, it is a high. As far as success is concerned of Gandhi, I don’t know, but I am getting a very good gut-feel. There’s a good vibe and energy that I feel while shooting so I am sure it will translate well and touch the audience’s hearts too.

You are also playing Mahatma Phule in Anant Mahadevan's biopic Phule. Are you on a biopic binge? 

Not by design. I chose to do Mahatma Phule because his story is inspirational. He fought for the education of women and the eradication of the caste system, When I do a biopic, I want to explore the mind of the person whose biopic it is; the way he walks, talks, dresses is secondary.

Your performance in Scam 92 was universally praised, but thereafter your projects have not registered that huge an impact. How do you handle ups and downs?

A play can be a success at one show but may not work the next day. I have accepted that there are many variables that decide the impact of any project.

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