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Judgement Call

Sometimes, the success of a film does not ride on the strength of the lead cast alone; it is the supporting actors that take it up several notches. Recently, we saw quite a few strong films releasing in theatres and many supporting actors that wowed us as they essayed pivotal roles on screen. We spoke to Kumud Mishra, who played a judge in Mulk. Here he is in conversation with Titas Chowdhury

On the brief

I became  a part of Mulk much later. After I read the script, I could not imagine that the character that I play would have the kind of scale that it did. Generally, the character of a judge does not have much substance. Even as an actor, I thought that my character did not have much weight. But, the script was very important for me.

I was initially not a part of the film. Someone else had been roped in to play my part. When I heard the script, it made me feel that I wanted to become a part of the project. Thereafter, we started working on my character. We used to discuss the several layers in my character but I was apprehensive of going out there and actually performing.

On the character

I sat down with the writer-director to discuss my character at length. My character is a common man with his share of personal biases. He is not a larger-than-life, perfect man. But there is something in his heart that is right. He has been a part of the judiciary and has been delivering judgments for years. When it comes to work, he chooses what is right. The character that I had built in my head is something that I can only perform and tell you. My character went through a process of rewriting and a lot of development owing to inputs from all of us.

On the director

Before Mulk, I had worked with Anubhav on a film called Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai. While casting for that film, he told me he had completed a film called Mulk. He wanted me to play a part in the film which had already been done by someone else. He believed in me. I did not want to do it because I thought it might not be a good decision for my career. But I could not say no to him.

Had he not helmed Mulk, I would have not done it. He was the one who convinced me to do this film. And I thank him with all my heart for giving me chance to be a part of a film as big as this.

On the responses

The responses that I am getting are completely unexpected. The only thing I was hoping was for people do not think that I have given a very bad performance. However, I was very sure that everyone would love the film. The credit for my performance must be given to the writer-director. It made people emotionally connect to my character. If your dialogue and the timing are right, then half the battle is won. When I read the monologue that I give at the end, I got goose-bumps. If you read your dialogues and it touches you, then you instinctively know that the film is headed in the right direction.

Manoj bhai (Pahwa), Rishiji (Kapoor), Taapsee Pannu, Neenaji (Gupta), Rajat (Kapoor) were fantastic in the film. I am not even putting myself in the same category as them. But the responses that I am getting for my character are making me happy. However, I feel happier with the responses that the film is getting.

On co-stars

I had no co-stars (Laughs). I started working in the film after everyone finished doing their parts and the film was over. My chemistry with Ashutosh Rana is being talked about a lot. It is because of his sheer talent. We have not even met during the shoot. 95-per cent of the actors in the film did not even know that I am a part of the film. Reshooting the courtroom scenes with the actors was not possible because they had already given their dates to other films. But I watched the film and their performances. So I was in tandem with everything. It is the magic of the film and the director that nobody could even guess that my scenes were shot separately.

Upcoming projects

I am doing Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hai next. I am expecting Ramsingh Charlie to release this year. Nitin Kakkar has directed it.


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