Bombay Showcase

Lord of the small roles

BOLLYWOOD BECKONS:Actor Amarjeet Singh is the anonymous pivot of one of the most crisply written and sparklingly performed scenes in Kapoor & Sons .— Photos: Rajneesh Londhe  

Amarjeet Singh hadn’t yet seen Kapoor & Sons when we spoke to him a couple of days back. Which should lead to the obvious questions: who is Amarjeet Singh and how does it matter whether he had seen the Shakun Batra film or not? Well, it matters because he happens to be the anonymous pivot of one of the most crisply-written and sparklingly-performed scenes of the film, perhaps the best sequence at the movies so far this year.

Singh is the plumber berated ceaselessly by Ratna Pathak Shah, an unwilling witness to a family quarrelling over finances; a trapped outsider, he is, at a metaphorical level, the Mr Fixit of the leaking pipeline of family relationships, one they urgently need but are not appreciative of. For another — functional — reason, with that brilliantly bewildered expression, he provides persistent comic relief in the middle of the unpleasant strife and tension. No wonder then, that in the scene, when asked about his price, he has the entire hall in splits with a of a dialogue: “ Ab is bure waqt mein jo theek samajhiye de dijiye (Give me whatever you think will do for you in these bad times).” The fun here is not just in the writing but in how he delivers the line, perfect in its timing, playing brilliantly off the central fight of the foursome.

It’s easy to presume, then, that he is not just someone who randomly walked into the film set and the role but an artiste of some calibre picked up after auditions.

The 25-year-old has worked extensively in theatre in Lucknow. Hailing from Hardoi, a small town in the North, famous for Sandila ke laddu (referred to in Piku ), he is the son of a government ration shop owner. Singh got involved in theatre while studying in Lucknow and then, as it happens with most actors, Bollywood beckoned.

The irony is that however much the audience may have loved him and laughed with his character in the film, they are unlikely to recognise him on the streets of Mumbai.

That big break is still nowhere in sight. Till now, life for him has been about miniscule roles: one scene in Manjunath , another in Citylights where he played a tea vendor. The one film where he had a bigger presence unfortunately got stuck for lack of finance. The reason why he seems curiously detached about the plumber performance in Kapoor & Sons as well? “ Kar ke bhool jao (forget them after performing),” is his policy, he says. He has shown little alacrity in seeing the film himself, though his elder brother and a couple of uncles in Lucknow have caught it. The immediate family — father, mother and sister-in-law — haven’t. “Where will they see it? There used to be two-three halls in Hardoi when I was growing up; even those are not there any more.”

Singh has also been pressed for time, assisting in the casting of the Channel V show, Gumrah . “It’s better to keep oneself busy doing something than remain jobless, waiting for films,” he says. “But I can’t remain distant from acting for very long either.” Work on a few plays is under way for the Thespo@Prithvi festival. There is also another small role in Akshay Kumar-starrer Rustam and yet another one, that of an Aghori, in The Other Side of the Door . In other words, the struggle is on, the good job at plumbing notwithstanding.

To help trace him, I’d started a WhatsApp group called Plumber. I’ve also saved his number as Amarjeet Plumber. Now, I am waiting for things to come a full circle when I call him to fix a tap; mistaking him for a real plumber. Is cinema all about the actor then? Or the character? Or, as Singh puts it, both?

Singh provides persistent respite

in the middle of

the unpleasant strife and tension

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Printable version | Mar 5, 2021 11:17:09 PM |

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