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From bad guys to strong women to characters with several shades of grey, there are some actors who transcend the characters they are given. The star that stole some limelight from the lead actor in his film last week, Pankaj Tripathi (Atma Singh) in Newton, talks to Bhakti Mehta about the depth of his role


I wasn’t given any brief as such. I wasn’t even told about the role I would play. I read the script and then I called up Amit and told him that it was a very good story. He asked me which role I liked and wanted to do. I replied that I was not sure; I was confused. I thought I had to play the role of the trainer, done by Sanjay Mishra. Then they gave me my role of Atma Singh, who is an army officer. So I said okay. I had worked with Drishyam Productions before, on Masaan, and had done a short film with Amit, so it was a comfortable environment.


As far as my role is concerned, I tried to make my character more human. He was very negative in the beginning. The role wasn’t as grey as it is in the movie. The subtle humour was not there before either. He was a strict, arrogant man. But why would he hate someone so much whom he had just met? Along with making him more human, I also made him more logical. Lagta hai ki yeh villain nahi hai but sahi kar raha hai apne hisaab se.


There were some logistical challenges. There was no vanity van. Poori film khatiya pe leth ke kiya hoon. I had some lower-back issues at that point, so I couldn’t stand for a long time. And every morning we would walk for about two hours. But the good thing was that there was no mobile network or internet connection. Complete silence and peace. No neck pain due to staring at the mobile (laughs). It was really beautiful too. I didn’t know there were so many shades of green until I did this shoot in the middle of the jungle.


Amit gave me total freedom. He saw that I was doing what I felt was right and he let me continue. He gave me space and encouragement. Our equation was very nice throughout the film.


It was a great experience working with these people. They have all done theatre and they understand their job. It always feels good when you work with actors who are understanding, gifted and talented.


The response has been very overwhelming for me. I thought people might like it, but that they would like it this much… I didn’t expect that. Even the response at the Berlin Film Festival was great. I am told that the small things I do, the way I say the simple lines, use my eyes, the little nuances, those are the things that people really like and that is quite overwhelming.


I have finished Fukrey Returns, which is out on December 8. Then there is Kaala with Rajinikanth sir, for which I am shooting right now. I am also doing a web series for Amazon Prime. So the next three months are set to be extremely busy.

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