For actor Brijendra Kala, who has established himself as a bonafide scene-stealer in Hindi cinema with his everyday characters in “Paan Singh Tomar" and “Jab We Met”, Shoojit Sircar’s “Gulabo Sitabo” was special as it came with a well-written role unlike his films of the past.
Kala, 55, said when he got half-baked roles in commercial movies, he would develop the character on his own to ensure that people notice his presence.
"This was the first time I was working on a film, after 'Paan Singh Tomar', where my character was well-etched out. There have been so many instances where I have been given half-baked characters and I had to personally develop those parts while I perform,” Kala told PTI in an interview.
“I have always struggled with such characters but I always used to think about what I should do so that the audiences will remember the movie for my role," he added.
His character of a local reporter eager to interview the famous bandit in “Paan Singh Tomar” , his role of a driver unwilling to change his driving speed for the lead couple about miss their train in “Jab We Met” or his role of a neighbour in “Aankhon Dekhi” are some of the parts that people immediately recall from his filmography of over 60 movies.
"Gulabo Sitabo", headlined by Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana and penned by Sircar's frequent collaborator Juhi Chaturvedi, is a quirky tale of two slimy scheming foxes -- a landlord and tenant -- in a game of one-upmanship.
Kala as a property lawyer and actor Vijay Raaz as an official from archeology department are the two other pivots in the film.
"Gulabo Sitabo is one such film where I had to just play the character and not work on it. It was so well-written and Juhi was always present on the sets to clear our doubts. And this is what an artiste wants -- a good writer, a great director and a well-written character," the actor said.
What makes "Gulabo Sitabo" extra special for Kala was the fact that he was sharing the screen space with Bachchan and shooting the movie in his second home, Lucknow.
"I was born in Uttarakhand but I belong to Mathura. I always dreamt of becoming an actor. There were many youngsters who ran away to Bombay to fulfill their aspirations but in my case, I ran away to Lucknow to work in theatre,” Kala said recalling his days of struggle.
"At that time, the value of the theatre was a lot more than it is today. I remember that I was addicted to the theatre so much that I used to frequently travel to the city for plays. When we started shooting for this film in Lucknow, then I instantly felt at home," he said.
Kala, who decided to shift to Mumbai after trying and failing to join the National School of Drama (NSD), had worked with Bachchan earlier in 2014's "Bhoothnath Returns" but "Gulabo Sitabo" turned out to be an altogether different experience.
"When we started shooting, I told Juhi, 'You have given me so many dialogues that I haven't spoken in my entire career.' Bachchan sir, who has spoken so many dialogues in his films, has fewer dialogues in this film.
"But such is his character that you will always be looking into his eyes and body language to understand what he is doing in the film. There are dialogues for him but not like ones that we have seen him deliver over the years," he said.
For many of his fans, it is his eyes and his style of dialogue delivery that hook them instantly. Kala believes it is his power.
"Every artiste has his or her own way of performing a scene and it has always been my endeavour that audiences get hypnotised after watching my performances.
"I believe that there must be something magical about an artiste that can attract the viewers. It is always my aim to mesmerise the viewers so that they become curious and eager to watch my other films.
I always say that this hunger should never be satiated.