EXCLUSIVE interview with Gufi Paintal alias ’Shakuni Mama’ prior to his much awaited upcoming acting workshop at Ronkel MERI.
Very few may know that he is also an Engineering graduate who was fortunate to serve as military recruit in his youth before he started his career in Bollywood. Talking about his stint both as Casting Director and popular role as Shakuni Mama in B.R. Chopra’s Mahabharata, also strong role of Resident General Metcalfe, here is an interesting excerpt from the interview.
Ronkel MERI: please tell us how you made it to acting?
GP: I had a passion for acting and I wanted to get into the profession so passionately that after completing my Engineering degree, despite having a good job with quite a handsome salary, I got into the struggle. I started with modeling, advertisement for print and some commercials.
Ronkel MERI: your parents must have been quite concerned about your decision.
GP: From parents’ stand towards me, yes, there was some concern about quitting a lucrative career and going in for such a struggle. However, they had some confidence and assurance in me due to the fact that I was an engineering graduate and could do well on my own.
Ronkel MERI: You iconized the popular character ‘Shakuni Mama’ in B. R. Chopra’s Mahabharata. Please tell us about your approach to the role. What made it so interesting and unique?
GP: That role of ‘Shakuni Mama’ was undeniably my very best. I remember discussing the role with B.R. Chopra and mentioning to him that my father used to tell us that a man’s evil reflects on his physical appearance also. The reflection could be on his eye, fingers or any part of the body. He used to tell us that if a man is physically disabled he has to be superbly good in exploiting his mental faculties. So, keeping this in mind I suggested to Chopra Saab that Shakuni should be portrayed as a lame person in order to justify his mental sharpness. This character also had streaks of the famous Shakespearean character ‘Metcalfe’.
Ronkel MERI: What do you think about the current generation of actors?
GP: There is a great lot and they are out to set new precedence in the field according to the modern times and I like many of them.
Ronkel MERI: Your message to the aspiring actors.
GP: According to me it’s difficult to generalize the approach. However, through training you should be able to know your strengths and style – in alignment with the best suited style or method. Always opt for a correct guidance in acting. Even good acting skills need polishing. It depends on how much we can be natural, thorough and authentic under the skin of any character.
Ronkel MERI: What is there in store for the aspirants in Ronkel MERI’s workshop?
GP: When it comes to Acting, the primary Question comes to our mind – What is Acting? For the answer, sometimes the mind starts exploring ‘Within Self’…But after not getting a definitive answer, it turns outside, where it is often told by the practitioners and teachers about a couple of techniques we have been hearing and practicing since ages given by Stanislavski, Lee Strasburg, et al.
However, have we ever asked ourselves whether the given technique is suitable for me? Am I really wired to learn and perform in that manner only???
We are genetically, phenotypically and psychologically different and unique and so we have different Make, Structure and Approach, respectively as well. In real life scenarios, when we ‘can’ act with these different approaches then why we should limit our techniques to perform within the limitations of a couple of methods which might not be best and suitable for me???
So, the bigger question is – Am I made to perform with that technique only or there is some other technique which is Best and most suitable for ME?
You will find the definitive answer at Ronkel – MERI’s workshop on Acting from Stage to Screen. I am sure that this will change the mindset about how we learn and approach the art of “Acting”.