The Tanu Weds Manu series starred my childhood crush Jimmy Shergill, actor extraordinaire R. Madhavan, and the ‘queen’ of powerful performances, Kangana Ranaut. And yet, the character I remember the most is played by none of them.
The character I remember the most is Pappi Ji played by Deepak Dobriyal.
If a movie stars Deepak Dobriyal, then it’s near impossible for the audience to forget what he brought to the story, no matter the length of his role.
His latest film Kaamyaab, in which he shares screen space with Sanjay Mishra, is just another example of this.
Deepak Dobriyal plays the role of a casting director in Kaamyaab. He is an actor who, with just one film realized, that he is a better judge of acting than a practitioner.
Or as he puts it in the film, he’s an umpire, not a cricketer.
There are not more than a handful of scenes that he appears in, and yet, he dons multiple hats in the film. He is the concerned acquaintance, the frustrated casting director, and a friend at the end of his patience, all in the same film.
This is why his character leaves an impact even in a limited screen presence – because he manages to portray varied human emotions with infallible ease in limited screen time.
This is why from the second I saw Deepak Dobriyal in the film’s trailer, I was excited about his role. Even if he wasn’t in the lead. Because that’s just the kind of actor Deepak Dobriyal is.
He belongs to that league of actors who make sure that even in a mediocre, forgettable film, their role stands out. The kind whose mere presence in the film gets you excited about what their role entails.
Deepak Dobriyal, whose film journey started with Maqbool in 2003, has acted in nearly 20 movies. And with every film, he has further secured his position as scene-stealer.
In just his second film, Omkara, the unique mixture of craftiness and hopelessness that he brought to his role of Rajan Tiwari won him his first Filmfare award.
Much like Omkara, most movies that followed cast Deepak in small but significant roles. And with every film, his performance won him new fans.
Because while most actors rely on certain tricks of the trade, Deepak Dobriyal brings something new to his performance with every role he does.
The elements he employs to play Madhavan’s affable best friend in Tanu Weds Manu are starkly different from the mannerisms of Shyam Prakash Kori in Hindi Medium. Thus, though both are supporting comedy roles, the performances are in no way similar.
Perhaps because, in every character that Deepak Dobriyal portrays, he seems to draw afresh from an untapped, never-ending reservoir of talent.
Is that talent a result of his years of experience as a theatre artist, or an example of an innate aptitude for acting?
A seasoned film critic could perhaps analyze his performances, break-down his roles, and give an answer to that.
But just like a magician’s tricks enchant you as long as you don’t know the secret, I prefer to be charmed by Deepak Dobriyal’s impressive performances, without knowing the trick to his genius.