Pankaj Pathakji Interview
After starting as a child actor, Pankaj Pathakji has spent over five decades in the theatrical, movie and ad industry. He also teaches acting in a Drama College. He has been awarded Gaurav Purashkar by the Gujarat Government. and received a Transmedia awards twice.

Theatre being his first love, he has acted in and directed many non-commercial and commercial dramas. Not only in Gujarat but also in Kolkata, Coimbatore, Odisha, Mumbai, Punjab to name a few. He is back to direction again with CASE NO 99, which has Vipul Vithlani, Deepali Bhuta and Vistaap Gotla in the cast.

 By MTG editorial

How did you get the idea of CASE NO 99?
This is not my idea. It is Pravin Solanki who has written the script. Originally it's written by Yogesh Soman but Pravin Solanki has written the script in Gujarati. It's a suspense thriller with 3-4 characters. I love making thrillers, so I decided to direct this.

Did you select the cast for this play?
I am basically from Surat and this is the first time I am working with a Mumbai team. I have come down here to Mumbai participating in many shows and I have won also. I have also done shows in Coimbatore, Kolkata, Nasik and other places, but decided this time to direct the play in Mumbai. I am 64 years old and have done other activities like films, serials but later decided that what my heart says and passion says, I will do that. Unfortunately, I missed theatre for two years due to covid but worked in few films, but as things came to normal, Vipul Vithlani and Kaustubh Trivedi had full trust in me making this play. So we decided to go ahead and it feels good.

How did you come into Theatre?
That's in my blood. Long back there was a play in Surat BHITAR BHATKE BALE which had 11 artistes out of which 7 were Pathakji, but my father and I were not in any roles. From that it all started. As I said theatre is in my blood.

Whose idea was it to choose the title CASE NO 99?
The idea of CASE NO 99 was unveiled by Kaustubh Bhai, not me. We were looking for other titles too but found CASE NO 99 seemed to be the best. So, we decided to go ahead with the title.

Could you share your experience working with Vipul Vithlani?
Though I am directing Vipul for the first time, I have known him for a very long time. He is a very smart actor and working with him is absolutely fun.

Vipul Vithlani is basically known for his comedy roles...
I tell you honestly one thing, we Gujarati people need two things in theatre.
1. Beautiful Set: It doesn't matter even if it is about poor people in slums. But if the set is good, audiences will love it.
2. Comedy: We Gujaratis need some comedy in it.
Vipul Vithlani is a master in comedy but basically he is an actor and he is enjoying his role.

Share your experience working with Deepali and Vistaap...
I am working with both of them for the first time. Vistaap basically comes from Parsi theatre. We had discussed some topics but he has done his work brilliantly and had grasped his role wonderfully to fit in his character.

When I met Deepali for the first time, I felt that she has done very few, or not done thrillers at all, she has done more of comedy, but her role is very challenging. Though she was not in town for afew days, but still she did her work to get into the character of the play. Fortunately, I had a good experience working with matured artists as they know their responsibilities.

As a director, what are your expectations from CASE NO 99?
I just pray that this play goes HIT, and want the audience to enjoy it without any disturbance.

Apart from CASE No 99 is there any other plays coming up with you as a director?
No, nothing as of now but if there's any challenging script comes, I may direct. I have directed approximately. 38-39 plays and also acted in 80-85 plays since childhood.

Any dreams of acting again?
Not really as I have directed and acted in many plays, so I know the experience in all. But yes, I am enjoying more as a director than as an actor. I would love to write play for mumbai too. I have written few plays and now wants to explore in Mumbai.

Team Mumbai Theatre Guide wishes CASE NO 99 team all the best.

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