Give him the role and he will just make it his own. Bijendra Kala – the newspaper vendor from Haasil to the taxi driver from Jab We Met, to the press reporter in Paan Singh Tomar, The manager of heaven in Bhoothnath Returns, the Mamaji from Ankhon Dekhi, the uncle in Shubh Mangal Saavdhan or the latest Sampadak Joshi in Ghoomketu, Bijendra Kala just makes his presence felt in even playing the smallest part. The 55-year-old actor who made an introduction in 2003, believes Gulabo Sitabo starring Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana will be his biggest turning point. Directed by Shoojit Sircar and written by Juhi Chaturvedi, Gulabo Sitabo will stream worldwide on Prime Video from 12 June 2020. Here Bijendra Kala shares the journey of the newspaper vendor from Haasil to the lawyer in Gulabo Sitabo in a heartfelt interview, where he talks about himself, the movie, the coronavirus scare, hope and more…
How did Gulabo Sitabo came to you?
Casting director Jogi Mallang called and said there is a role for you in a movie being made by Shoojit Sircar. I immediately said yes, a meeting was fixed. I was explained the character, given the narration and that’s it.
Tell us about your role and how different it is from your other popular characters?
It’s the biggest role of my career. Am playing a lawyer. A mix of naughtiness and seriousness with quirky tones. So, when he talks to Mirza Sheikh – the character played by Amitabh Bachchan he is God damn serious. He is deep in his detailing on what is required and what is needed in their mission. While when he is with his colleagues etc., he is funny, quirky, naughty kind of a fellow. This character has a uniquely different shade from other characters.
Will you call Gulabo Sitabo a turning point in your career?
Yes yes, definitely. Am really banking on it. A big role with none other than Amitabh Bachchan, am playing a lawyer. People keep on asking when you will get your right dues. When will the industry utilise your true potential? In 2013 I had an opportunity when I got a good role in Besharam starring Ranbir Kapoor. I had 20+ days of work and even recorded song, sung in different styles. I have worked hard on that character and developed it giving some of my traits/mannerisms. But unfortunately, my character got scrapped as the movie became ‘bigger’.
But the case with Gulabo Sitabo is completely different. The movie is a journey of some fascinating characters and I am one of them. The writer Juhi Chaturvedi and director Shoojit Sircar have ensured that all the characters in their given length are able to make their presence felt. I pray that the movie gets appreciated, my character gets recognized. This will be the biggest due of my career till date.
From Bunty Aur Babli to Bhootnath Returns to Gulabo Sitabo your tryst with the legend Amitabh Bachchan.
What to say. My biggest role with the biggest living legend. Sharing screen with Bachchan sir will always remain the most cherished memory.
Any iconic role of Amitabh Bachchan that you would have desired to do/or any character of Amitabh Bachchan that suits you?
I am brought up by watching the movies done by Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra. During my childhood days on summer vacations, after watching movies of Mr. Bachchan, it was a ritual to give narration of the whole movie to my friends on the terrace where we used to sleep at night. It was like enacting the whole movie all over again. This is the way Amitabh Bachchan made an entry, this is the way he said his dialogue. Coming to the question, if given a choice a chance something like Arjun Singh from Namak Halaal which I desire to do. Arjun Singh from Namak Halaal is quite extraordinary, unique, and quirky.
One day if you get reborn as Amitabh Bachchan?
(Pauses for a while): Arre bhai chai laao
How have you coped with the coronavirus scare and your discovery during the lockdown?
There are two sides – positive and negative. On the negative side, you are at home, no work, there is a worry what will happen. On the positive side, I spend quality time with family, spending the whole day inside the house, doing some household work, singing, making good use of Karaoke, and most important eating everything and experimenting on food. In fact, love for food has reduced the tension, frustration to a considerable extent during this lockdown due to coronavirus covid-19 scare. Otherwise it would have become really difficult. Different ways of ice creams, chole bhature, samosa, every yummy thing without the worry of calorie, oil, butter was relished. Now, when the movement starts, I will come to know how the cholas and samosas are reacting. So, this is the way I have and many others like me have tried to cope with corona. I really hope this situation is not repeated.
Describe your journey from the newspaper vendor in Haasil to the lawyer in Gulabo Sitabo in two lines?
The story of an unknown newspaper vendor in Haasil to a famous lawyer in Gulabo Sitabo.
Finally, what makes an actor a scene stealer like Bijendra Kala?
The amazing characters written by the amazing writers. My complete honesty, dedication, and hard work in giving my best and making it different from the other. Working on myself constantly to ensure that whatever characters big or small I am lucky to bag leaves an impression amongst the audience in such a way that the hunger, the thirst remains on both sides – in me and the audience – the audience finally who had given so much love and encouragement to keep me going trying new ways, nuances. If an amazing character played by an actor doesn’t get the love of the audience, then what is the point? I just play the characters in the best way I can with complete honesty, the love of the audience makes it feel like a scene stealer.