'Comedy is an opportunity that I had created for myself'
Be it serious roles or comical acts, veteran actor Om Puri has every time come out triumphant in pulling off the characters perfectly. In his next, Priyadarshan's comic flick KAMAAL DHAMAAL MALAMAAL, Om plays the role of an annoyed father. The actor in this interview mentions how he managed to get out of being stereotyped and created a niche for himself as a comic actor.
Share something about the character you play in Percept Pictures' KAMAAL DHAMAAL MALAMAAL and what inspired you to take up this role?
I play Shreyas' father in the film who is often found oscillating between being miffed and angry! I don't have a comic role, but am playing someone who is very upset with his son, because he believes the boy is good for nothing, as he does not do any work, is not pursuing farming and just loiters around wasting time. The result being, you are left with one angry dad! (Smiles) And what inspired me to take this role is simply Priyan; he is such a joy to work with.
You have even mentioned previously that Priyadarshan is the USP of KAMAAL DHAMAAL MALAMAAL, with all your experience of working with such a varied mix of directors, what stands out about Priyan?
Priyan has a very good sense of comedy and he has proved this in many films by now. He is one director who knows exactly what he wants from all his actors. He is also someone who works in conjunction with the rest of the actors and gives them input on their roles periodically, which is very endearing and it reflects in his films.
You have already worked with Asrani and the other veteran actors in the film and know their work well. How was the experience of working with the more recent crop of actors like Shreyas Talpade who is riding the new wave of comedy now?
Shreyas Talpade has a good sense of comic timing and is also a very good serious actor when need be. I thought his performances in DOR and WELCOME TO SAJJANPUR were wonderful and working with him in KAMAAL DHAMAAL MALAMAAL has been a great experience. With the combined effort of actors like him and the rest of the cast along with Priyadarshan, who has made very successful films till date, the film produced by Percept Pictures is going to be a very good attempt as well.
You have also done cross cultural comedies like EAST IS EAST, catering to a very different audience. How varied are the comic sensibilities across the border and what do you aim to do differently as an actor when you step out?
You are right, there is a lot of difference in the comic sensibilities when you step out, but the approach I have is only according to what my character demands. For instance in EAST IS EAST, there is a lot of comedy, but I played it very seriously, as that is what the character demanded. I don't make an attempt to make you laugh; I just act according to the situation. Comic timing can't be imposed or contrived on, what comes naturally is always the key to comedy.
After a point actors tend to get typecast in a specific role type which defines them. You have carved a niche for yourself in every type of genre from the somber and serious variety of AAKROSH to the lighthearted and comically inclined KAMAAL DHAMAAL MALAMAAL which releases on 28th September. Where is your comfort ground in this panorama?
I did not start my career with comedy, in fact after AAKROSH people saw me as someone who had a serious face and was not capable of comic timing at all. But I wanted to change that. I invited Ranjit Kapoor who was a very talented theatre personality from NSD Delhi back then to come to Mumbai and he decided to do a play titled 'Bichoo' with me. Back then even he did not believe that I will be capable of doing comedy, thinking I was too shy as a person to pull it off, so he cast me for a smaller role. But I insisted that I had invited him here, and the lead should go to me because I wanted to prove exactly this, my versatility even in the comic genre. Eventually I did play the lead, and the play went onto being very successful, which paved the way for me to be recognised and get JAANE BHI DO YAARO. That was the start of my journey into comedy. It's an opportunity that I had created for myself, because I broke out of the mold I had started to be categorized in.