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Interview Hindi

Gulshan Devaiah: Director Remy Kohli cast me without watching my work

The Hunterrr (2015) actor talks about getting the Punjabi accent right for Kuldip Patwal: I Didn't Do It! and his experience of working with Deepak Dobriyal.

Keyur Seta

Director Remy Kohli’s Kuldip Patwal: I Didn’t Do It! stars Deepak Dobriyal whose character is accused of killing a chief minister. The film also stars Gulshan Devaiah as lawyer Parduman Shahpuri who fights the case for the protagonist. 

According to the actor, Kohli cast him in the pivotal role without watching any of his previous films. In fact, the director hardly watches Indian films.

“When he met me he said, ‘I have heard about you, but I haven’t seen any of your films’," Gulshan Devaiah recalled. "Despite me being from the South, he felt I would enjoy playing the character of a Punjabi lawyer. He hardly watches Hindi films. He is an Indian but stays mostly in London. He also said he doesn’t want to get influenced by the type of films made in India.”

Gulshan Devaiah, best known for films like Hunterrr (2015) and Shaitan (2011), instantly agreed to do the film despite not knowing Kohli. “When I met Kohli saheb I realized he will have a unique perspective [on the story]. More than the script, I found his perspective towards the script interesting,” he said. 

Speaking about his character, the actor said, “He is a lawyer called Parduman Shahpuri who fights cases pro bono. He is a self-made man who takes a lot of pride in his work. Hence, he has a big moustache. He comes across this man who is accused of murder and decides to fight his case.”

Prodded more about the film, he said, “It’s a socio-political drama. It also goes into the thriller genre. It also deals with some personal issues. I have been very experimental towards my career. I always try doing something out of the box. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.” 

Gulshan Devaiah with Deepak Dobriyal in Kuldip Patwal: I Didn't Do It!

The biggest challenge for Gulshan Devaiah was to get the Punjabi accent right. “I studied it while being with Kohli saheb," he said. "We used to work on the pronunciation before and during the shoot. I didn’t have too much knowledge of the pronunciation. Sometimes when I erred, he asked for another take. It was difficult initially as the accent doesn’t sit easily on your tongue. But by the time the film ended, I had become much better.”

However, Gulshan Devaiah admitted he would have been better if he had had more time to practise the accent. “I couldn’t give much time for preparation, to be honest," he said. "In case I had got more time, it would have been better maybe. We always keep looking at the director’s reaction. If he is happy, then it’s fine.”

The realistic touch to the film, as seen in the promos, makes one wonder if it is based on a true story. Asked, Gulshan Devaiah said, “I have no idea if it is inspired from any real incident. Rahul Ramchandani has written the film and Kohli saheb has also contributed. I have no idea where have they taken inspiration from. It’s the story of a man from the troubled class. Their political ideology is also seen in glimpses.” 

The actor, who is quite new to the film industry, has admired his co-star Deepak Dobriyal's performances but had never worked with him before. “I have been an admirer of Deepak since long and this was a chance to work with him. This is my first film with him. I hope it is not the last (smiles).

"He is a mazedaar [fun] person off the set. We used to get free entertainment. You would not realize how three hours passed. When I was taking more takes, he showed patience. He was very supportive towards me.”

Also starring Parvin Dabbas and Raima Sen, Kuldip Patwal: I Didn’t Do It! is being released on 2 February. Click here to predict the film's box-office performance.