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“The industry has changed and at least we are paid now”

After doing theatre for 17 years, Brijendra Kala is a known face on celluloid. With film Paan Singh Tomar the actor’s histrionics have come to the fore

Background

I was born and raised in Mathura and I always knew I wanted to work with the media. I started my career as a radio announcer with Akaashvani. But acting was my passion. I started doing stage shows and moved to theatre. Theatre is addictive and I stuck with it for 17 years. I never once thought I would land up
in Mumbai.

Mumbai Calling

When in Mumbai, I met Tigmanshu Dhulia, who was working on a television series called Hum Bombay Nahi Jayenge. I wrote the script for that serial and acted in it too.

Initial Days

Getting work in this industry was never easy. TV was new then. People in the industry were very warm but they said, ‘Between Shatrughan Sinha, Kiran Kumar, Danny Denzongpa and the other tall and good-looking actors, where can I cast you?’ It was a time when looks worked. So even if you played a negative role, you had to be tall and good-looking. That’s what I was up against.

Television

Since I was determined to act in films I deliberately didn’t do much work on TV. Once you become a known face on TV, it’s hard to establish yourself in the movies, that was the case, at least back then. But since I needed to earn a living, I took up some TV projects. I did Banegi Apni Baat, Naya Daur, Kutumb, Kuchh Jhuki Palkein and a few more shows.

Writer and assistant director

Theatre helped me get a variety of work. I was writing as well as assisting on projects. I assisted Manobala in the film Mera Pati Sirf Mera Hai when he offered me a role in the film. I had just one scene and it was with Rekha. I didn’t get any sleep the night before because I was so nervous as I was to shoot with the superstar. That was my first film.

Turning Point

Of all the projects I have done, I would say Mithya (2008), with Rajat Kapoor, changed my life. That’s when the industry recognised me as a character actor. Before that, I had also worked in HaasilShabd, Jab We Met and a few more films.

Paan Singh Tomar

Tigmanshu was on a recce for Paan Singh Tomar and was looking for a fat guy. He called me and asked me whether I was fat at the time. If not, he suggested, I should start drinking beer and put on some weight. That’s how I got the role in the film!

Money Matters

Earlier, big banners said, ‘We are giving you our film, you’re working under our banner, why should we pay you?’ Fortunately, today, we are paid for our work.

Friends

Of all the people I know, Rajat Kapoor and Tigmanshu Dhulia have always stood by me. They know my potential and what I am capable of.

Future Projects

I am shooting for Abhinav Kashyap’s Besharam, and after that, a film called Identity Card. Next, I will start shooting for Raj Kumar Hirani’s Peekay.

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