Horsing around with comedian Paresh Ganatra

Paresh Ganatra is positive that Chidiya Ghar will last a long time and that Gujarati Theatre needs to revamp to exist. We tell you more…

He is the guy next door and that’s his trump card. Paresh Ganatra can play anyone, that funny guy (No Entry), the hero’s friend (Rowdy Rathore) or characters with negative shades (Ek Mahal Ho Sapnon Ka and Baa, Bahoo Aur Baby). These days, people prefer watching him as Ghotak, a TC in Indian railways in the family drama, Chidiya Ghar. He was in town to promote the Saal Ka Sabse Anokha Election (SAB Ke Anokhe Awards), with his Chidiya Ghar co-star Shubhangi Atrey Poorey and from SAB’s other popular sitcom Lapataganj, Abbas Khan and Aditi Telnag. He chats with us about being Ghotak and his career from Gujarati theatre and ahead.
Your character Ghotak has achieved a big fan following. How much of this was expected?
I had a gut feeling that the serial might work. I have done roles with gray shades and got different kinds of roles too. When I was narrated the story of Chidiya Ghar, I realised that the characters behaved and spoke in a rather different manner. I found this novel and it hit me. Even if they talk abnormally, the story is normal which happens amongst us. I thought I might give it a shot. At the same time, I was doing Comedy Circus which was another way of comedy. So when Chidiya Ghar came to me, I said yes in two minutes. I knew that another character from the serial, Gadha Prasad, would also be very popular. Yet, I choose to play Ghotak. Someone like Gadha Prasad has been played before and had become popular. But despite that, all characters here have become popular and have mass appeal. The best thing is that we provide social messages through the show. It is quite effective for the kids.
With such unique storyline and cast, it must be fun while shooting for it. How is the atmosphere?
Things are relateable. The language might be over-the-top, but the situations are real. So I don’t mind the craziness of the story. When we are on the sets and reading the script, we start improvising. The best part is everyone is friendly and are into their characters. That is why you can see the chemistry between us. No one has an ego and they are willing to improvise. That’s the fun. The show has potential to continue for a while.
Are you still active in Gujarati theatre? What do you think needs to be done more on that front?
Chidiya GharI was doing Gujarati theatre when I was in college. But I started working in a corporate and you have to travel a lot for theatre which I could not do. But I did other kind of theatre like monologues and so on. Then I left my job to do work commercially. I did Comedy Circus which has the theatre format. It reminded me of those days. Once I got opportunity to work in films and television, things changed. Now I will do things to satisfy myself. I am doing Comedy Nights with Kapil. The moment I feel something interesting comes up in theatre, I might go back to it. I am still in touch with many of my colleagues from the theatre world. I need experimentation.
The thing with Gujarati theatre is many like me have moved on, with regards work, including many creative people. Also, theatre is not paying much. But we should guide these newcomers. If you cannot work, you can always guide the newbies about how to go about doing things. Change will not happen unless you give them the support first. After 10 flop plays, the 11th might just work. But you have to experiment.
Any recent Gujarati play which you saw and liked?
I recently saw Somya Joshi’s 102 Not Out. He is a good writer and the play is simple, emotional and effective. After Aatish Kapadia, I found a writer who was superlative.
Now, at this stage, what kind of roles are you expecting or looking for?
The first film I got approached for was No Entry and after that I was approached for more such roles. But I refused as I did not want to get trapped in comedy trap. Then I did Delhi Belly where I played a simple character who unwittingly gets into trouble. The third film was a hardcore commercial film, Rowdy Rathore. I had more scenes with Akshay than Sonakshi. On television, I have played a negative character in Ek Mahal Ho Sapnon Ka while in Baa, Bahoo Aur Baby, my character had shades of gray. The character is an emotional person, but money-minded. I shifted to Comedy Circus. I want to do different kinds of roles and will consider going back to theatre some day.
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