Vishal Bhardwaj’s wholesome family entertainer-Pataakha did not shake the box office but garnered mostly positive reviews. The film’s writer Charan Singh Pathik interacted with The Article’s team and shared some interesting insights about his journey from cricket to Bollywood.
(The film pushed aside Vishal Bhardwaj’s image as someone who takes more interest in dark thrillers. The movie is based on author Charan Singh Pathik’s short story called-‘Do Behene’. It features Sanya Malhotra, Radhika Madan, Sunil Grover, Saanand Verma, and Vijay Raaz in the key roles)
Your initial love was cricket. What attracted you towards story writing?
Yes, cricket happens to be my first love, and I spent a lot of time playing the sport. But, I was not able to see any way forward to develop my career in the same. Parents insisted I should focus on studies instead of playing. Later, I was attracted to films and watched movies whenever I found the time.
Once I fell ill and thought about writing something to spend time. I wrote a short story called “Gauri Babu Ke Sapne” and sent it to the weekly magazine “Hindustan.” But they did not publish the same. Then, I started writing poems for Rajasthan Patrika. The then editor Yashwant Vyas was fond of my poems and even use to send me books for review.
My first story was Bakkhad released in 1998, and it received a lot of recognization. After the release of my first piece, several renowned publishers started noticing my work.
(His other collections of short stories include “Baat Ye Nahe Hai” (2005), “Peepal Ke Phool” (2010) and “Goru Ka Laptop Aur Gorky Ke Bhais” (2014))
You were impressed with Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri and had applied at FTII as well as NSD? Please share the story behind this.
Yes, when I was in my early twenties, I wanted to do something different from the league, instead of going with the crowd. Back then, both the actors were my inspiration. They looked simple and belonged to small families. I applied at NSD (National School of Drama), but my form was rejected. Later, I also tried joining FTII Pune, but again I faced rejection. I had given multiple auditions to become an actor back then. Finally, my parents advised me to focus on my education, and I ended up becoming a teacher.
Which are your favorite characters from Pataakha?
The two sisters remain my favorite characters. Played by Sania Mahlotra (Chutki) and Radhika Madan (Badhki), the roles demanded a lot of hard work. They are indulged in fighting, punching, screaming, and thus, needed to display a strong body language. The schedule used to begin at 5 AM every morning. To get into the character, both the actors lived like local girls for a few days. From sweeping the floor, filling up water, milking the cows to cooking food, both girls performed all the tasks after initial hesitation.
A lot of efforts were also required in developing Sunil Grover’s character. To make it funny, we decided that the character would blink his eyes more frequently, and named the character as- Dipper.
Instead of issue-based stories, most of the filmmakers look for entertaining content that can be presented on a larger canvas. Characters from all your tales are from rural India. Do you think more directors would look at stories of ordinary people from rural India during the coming days?
More extraordinary stories of ordinary people from rural India should reach the big screen. More stories from villages in rural India need to be told, as the people would surely be able to relate to the non-perfect characters.
Developing an entire film around such characters was surely an uphill task. But people would appreciate if you show the guts to make a movie that goes against the current trend. Director Bhardwaj is indeed not someone who is interested in making films about wholesome, pretty people who live happily ever after. He loves challenges and has never hesitated to tell different stories.
Many Rajasthan centric films have been made during the last few years. But, they focus on the western part of the state. Pataakha focuses on eastern. What’s your take on this?
The culture, stories, and even the beautiful locations from eastern parts of Rajasthan have been ignored for several years by film-makers. Our story revolves around characters from the east part (Karauli district’s Ronsi village). Stories from communities, tales from eastern Rajasthan also need to be told. I wish to continue writing such tales. My next film story is titled, Kasai.
The story is like a baby for every writer. When you watched the first preview of Pataakha, what was your reaction? Has the director done justice to the story while taking it on the big screen?
Writers do not get the respect and the credit that they deserve these days. But, Vishal Bhardwaj belongs to a different league. He not only asked me to work on dialogues but also shared the final script and dialogues with me to get my opinion on the same. He can get 100 percent out of all the actors and most importantly, he respects everyone in spite of being such a well-known filmmaker. We worked together and made sure that the soul of the story remains the same while presenting it on the big screen.
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