One of the most unlikely starcast has been that of ABCD and ABCD 2 as both films primarily had professional dancers as central characters. It made things only more exciting for Punit Pathak who was part of the two films…
Life After ABCD
People got to know me thanks to Dance India Dance (DID) but ABCD got me fame and people noticed that I could act too. After DID, I was assisting Remo (D’Souza) sir when he asked me to come to his place. When we reached his home, he was sitting with Tushar (Hiranandani), the writer, and music composers Sachin-Jigar. He introduced us to them and said, ‘These guys are the heroes of my next film’. Naturally, we were in shock. That’s where the journey of ABCD began. We knew how to dance but we didn’t know how to act, so Remo sir conducted workshops where we were trained. Then, he once again asked us for ABCD 2. My life had already changed after ABCD as my character Chandu had become a household name. People call me ‘Chandu’ to this day.
There were a few offers but I stuck to television as I am not very comfortable with giving auditions as I am camera-shy. But when Remo sir told me about ABCD 2, I just had to act in it. In fact, because I died in the first part, many people were wondering how I could make a comeback in the sequel but Remo sir made it clear that he wanted me in the second part too. He said as the story is new, I will have a new character.
On the workshops
Everyone was being trained. Varun (Dhawan) and Shraddha (Kapoor) were trained actors but they were being trained in dance so that they could match the dancers, while we dancers were learning to act. At the same time, I was also doing a workshop to play a deaf-and mute character. So I was doing workshops with Sitaramji, who also trained Ranbir Kapoor for Barfi!. It was an interesting learning process and now I know sign language.
On learning to act
It was a challenge to play a deaf-and-mute character. I could not make eye contact so I had to learn to lip-read when other people spoke. I used to spend time with kids who could not hear and speak and by looking at them, I learnt a lot about how they react. The key challenge was that I didn’t have to react if someone called out to me, I had to ignore it. Also, before doing a scene, I used to plug my ears with my fingers and go ‘hummmm’. When you do that, you can hear only your own voice.
On his role
This time, many assumed that my character would die again as I kept coughing. I used to keep coughing to feel the pain so that I could portray my character convincingly. In the film, my character refuses to take his medicine, which compromises his health. So I had to learn many acting tactics.
On the response
The response has been fabulous. The audience loved the film and that’s why it got such a big opening and is still going strong. The songs, the dance and everything else about the film has become famous. If I started as a contestant on DID, today I am judging DID. I have come a long way.