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December 18, 2001
'Naseersaab recommended me for Monsoon Wedding'
He could be the man hanging around the nukkad near your house, gossipping with the paanwallah.
Thin, almost scrawny, nattily dressed, with a colourfully designed handkerchief tucked under his collar, a bulging rexine pouch under his arm, chewing paan and flashing his cell phone. Just the regular, slightly sleazy-looking wheeler-dealer we often come across.
When Parbatlal Kanhaiyalal Dubey aka P K Dubey or Dubeyji appears on screen for the first time in Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding, he comes across as just another wheeler-dealer to add character to the film.
But when the same Dubey goes down on his knees, a bunch of marigolds in hand for his lady love Alice (Tilottama Shome), the audience cheers along with him.
P K Dubey wins the hearts of not only Alice but the audience, too. And his performance has definitely won Vijay Raaz an entry into the film industry.
"That's the beauty of his [Dubey's] character. He is a simple guy. He isn't reduced to just a comic character in the film. Dubeyji comes across as a man who, like any other person, can feel love. I really like the way Miraji has woven my character with the rest of the story," says Raaz.
This Delhiite does not have professional theatre training but was associated with the National School of Drama. "It was at NSD that Naseersaab (Naseeruddin Shah) had seen my plays. In fact, he recommended me for Bhopal Express and then for Monsoon Wedding."
After a decade of working in theatre, Raaz realised that moving to Mumbai was important if he had to reach out to a larger audience. "Sirf yahan aapko achcha kaam mil sakta hai (Only here will you get good work)," he says in chaste Hindi.
The mandatory rounds to producers and directors' offices started. "I guess it has all paid off now. I don't regret coming to Mumbai," he says.
From mouthing expletives to chewing on marigolds in Monsoon Wedding, Raaz has an explanation for every eccentricity of Dubeyji: "Eating marigolds was Sabrina Dhawan's [script-writer] idea. She said you get romantic thoughts in your mind when you chew on them."
And did he get any? "Haan, par sirf film ke liye (Yes, but only for the film)," he smiles, drawing on his tobacco stick.
About the international recognition the film has won, Raaz says, "The Golden Lion Award is a good thing to have happened. Monsoon Wedding has a lot of interesting aspects which I don't think people will accept readily. It is very difficult to make Indians understand and accept what you are trying to say. Besides, the award helped generate curiosity about the film."
Incidentally, Vijay Raaz is married and has a two-year-old daughter, Goonja. And while he is still basking in the success of Monsoon Wedding, his next films include Ramgopal Varma's Company, in which he plays a Sardar in the underworld. "I don't think any film has shown a Sardar in the underworld," he observes.
There is also Boney Kapoor's Shakti, starring Karisma Kapoor and Nana Patekar; Firoz Nadiadwala's Awaara Paagal Deewana, and Pammi Sandhu's next venture with Sanjay Dutt, Suneil Shetty and Ajay Jadeja.
A firm believer in God, Raaz says what you have in hand matters the most: "Agar aap apna kaam theek se karen, toh woh hamesha logon ke nazar mein aayega (people will always notice your sincerity towards your job)."
India News Feature Service
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