In conversation with Pavan Malhotra, the master of nuances
Pavan Malhotra who began with the Farooq Sheikh starrer Ayega Mazaa (1984) by Pankaj Parashar and then went on to make his mark with pure brilliance be it Salim Pasha from Saeed Akhtar Mirza’s award winning 1989 cult ‘Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro’ before wining hearts on small screen in Kundan Shah and Saeed Akhtar Mirza’s classic Nukkad as cyclewala Hari, has 37 years of incredible career as an artiste an actor.
One of the best acting talents we have, Pavan has this knack of surprising us with new nuances and giving every character he plays a distinct voice.
In a candid telephonic chat with Vishal Verma, Pavan Malhotra, the actor who hates retakes (I mean never repeats himself) speaks on his OTT innings, what makes Tabbar special, how he gains mastery over nuances, his fears and more.
What excited you to do Tabbar
Tabbar is a human story, packed with genuine emotions, though set in Punjab, the universal appeal is so strong that it could have been set anywhere in the world. It’s intense, its dark, it’s shocking but it’s also heart rendering and truly emotional.
What is the secret behind your knack in giving every character a fresh voice?
I come from theatre, first thing that I learnt was how to understand a character, I don’t have any mannerism, any style, and my pitch/speech with every role is different. Meri mimicry nahi hoti (I never get mimicked) because I don’t have a style.
After getting an understanding and deciding on body language etc, the nuances start coming. It’s a natural process which comes after going through a thought process. Recently someone said that he has seen Bhag Milkha Bhaag around 6 times and every time a new nuance has been noticed.
As an actor, I try to get as many nuances that fit in the collage of the character; you may notice something, while some other will notice something else.
Some actors go in the shell, like Ranveer Singh reportedly locked himself from the outside world, Aamir Khan use to start living in the character he is portraying in his upcoming film, do you have any specific process.
I don’t go through all these. I don’t lock myself and never started living the character I am portraying, as said earlier, after understanding, getting the body language etc, I search for nuances that enhances the performance and it’s a job of an actor to act.
References yes, either during script reading when you recollect someone way back from your childhood or recent that comes near to your character.
Maulana Qureshi in Amit Rai’s award winning Road To Sangam that also starred Paresh Rawal and Om Puri. I remember that Maulana Sahab who use to visit my father’s office and he use to make such faces while performing. The observational eye of an actor should always be kept open, even the actor is fast asleep. The eye keeps on searching, noticing people and their traits, your mind should be open enough to accept/collect all and reproduce when requires. In Children War I played the deadly cruel and wicked, I didn,t have to adapt that in my personal life to make it better.
After 37 years of remarkable consistency, does the master of nuances Pavan Malhotra feels any anxiety, nervousness while approaching a fresh role
Yes, yes, every time. I feel nervous when I start my new work. I don’t have a style so I can’t repeat myself; I go through anxiety fear and pray to the almighty that I do proper justice to the role offered. I have not done any professional course nor taken any training; I try my best and pray that it comes out well.
You also played a Sardar in the recent Grahan, also in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Mubarakan, Judwaa 2 etc, what is the USP that you never appear repeating yourself even for a bit.
I do my part to the best of my ability and the credit goes to the writers who define the characters differently and the director who brings it forward.
From your character Omkar in Tabbar which scene will remain memorable forever?
Cannot single out a particular scene, I carry the whole character along right from the first shot to the last shot.
So, how acting came into your life
I never wanted to be an actor. It happened by chance. During my school days. During a play out of blue I was asked to do small roles. I wondered why me. It went well, people started appreciating and I was offered o join the group. Later in college I began doing theatre as I started developing interest. Round of Festivals began and I started getting awards. But coming to Bombay (name of Mumbai at that time) and looking for work in films was nowhere in the picture.
I did theatre in Delhi with Feisal Alkazi and Ruchika. I came to Mumbai for a week and never went back. Was doing odd jobs as production designing (Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron), wardrobe assistant (Gandhi) Saeed Mirza offered me a role in Nukkad and…
You belong to the parallel cinema era the era ruled by Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani, Saeed Akhtar Mirza, Buddhadev Dasgupta, Kundan Shah, Aziz Mirza who brought realism and refined craft to the medium. The current OTT era is also hailed for its realism. What is the basic difference you see in both revolutions?
The evolution of the audience is better nowadays. The audience has grown up, growing up, getting more exposure to world cinema and best part is in both the eras, stories from the heart of India, the rural, the things that matters are told. The gap between realistic cinema and over the top masala is narrowing down and the audience is opening up. The OTT revolution has powered this revolution with full force, providing the artiste and his art new avenues to explore.
Just completed my part in Oh My God 2, the sequel of Oh My God, directed by Amit Rai, starring Akshay Kumar and Pankaj Tripathi. Other movies - Tera Kya Hoga Lambodar and Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai are also in pipeline.