‘My Parents Sat Me Down & Told Me To Drop Science If I Was Serious About Pursuing Acting’
Q. You were pursuing a career in civil engineering before films happened to you. What drew you towards this profession?
A. When I was a kid, I would always watch films and plays and come back home and try to mimic them. I remember I used to take my mother’s dupatta and make dresses out of them. For the longest time, I thought I would be a fashion designer. As a child, I used to get all these thoughts. I purely took up science because of my family. My father is a builder, while my mother is an interior designer. My sister was pursuing architecture. So, I thought that was the way to go because that’s the life which I had seen.
Whenever you are good at studies, you end up taking science for some reason (laughs). So, I took up science. When I was in my college, there was a Fresh Face contest by Times Of India. I had no idea what this contest was about. I only participated in it because my lab teacher told us that we would get a three-hour attendance. So, I participated and I was told to dance for a minute. I won that round in my college. I was really attracted to the fact that I would get to perform. So, I started working hard to win that competition.
After I won, I bagged an advertisement as promised by the sponsors. While shooting for that commercial, I realized that I loved being on sets. It was the vibe on that set which I really liked, that drew me towards becoming assistant director on three films. So, even though I didn’t get work initially, I still assisted on films because I wanted to be on sets. Looking at how films are made, was important for me.
Q. Was there any defining moment as such when you realized that you wanted to be an actor?
A. After I won Fresh Face contest, my parents sat me down and told me to drop science if I was serious about pursuing acting. They advised me to take up Arts, complete my degree and alongside, also take up acting classes, dance, learn theatre. I agreed with them. That’s when I realized that I had to take this up seriously because I came with the thought that I didn’t have backup plan. That was the moment when I left science because I didn’t have a Plan B.
‘I Don’t Want To Create Any Perception; I Just Want To Be Myself’
Q. Keeping the nepotism debate aside and meaning no offense to star kids, do you believe it’s difficult for an outsider to make his way into this industry and do you think the struggle is bigger for them?
A. I don’t know bigger or smaller for sure, because I don’t know what it’s like to be a star kid. But definitely as an outsider, it is not easy. You don’t get to meet enough people. You keep giving auditions and have to learn things on your own.
At the end of the day, my sister who is an architect, gets insights about her work on the dinner table. It’s a blessing for her. On the other hand, I don’t have that because no one talks about how films are made. My parents have no idea about it. Of course, I don’t blame them for that. It’s just that little information that you ain’t aware about, that other people like star kids might have. People who come from no where might not have that access.
Getting work is just one of the toughest things as actors.
Q. Keeping all the fame and success aside, there’s also another side to showbiz which includes bizarre working hours. There are times when you cannot be yourself because you have got an image to live up to and people have a certain perception about you. How are you preparing yourself for all these things?
A. My first film as an assistant director was at the age of 16. So, I am used to working erratic hours. I don’t get bothered by the fact that I will have to work day and night shifts. I am totally okay with that because that’s how I started my journey.
Talking about creating a perception, I don’t know if people do that. But personally, I don’t want to do that because I would get tired of being someone who I am not.
It’s not about not showing your bad days to people. You need to understand that it’s people who make you. They really love you. I have seen that with so many actors that I worked with as AD. People just love you as actors. So, they don’t know if you are having a bad day. They would probably see you for a split second. So of course, they expect a smile from you. I feel that giving that to them is not faking it. Instead, it’s essential because they give you so much love in return.
Personally, I don’t want to create any perception; I just want to be myself. I am the kind of person who would get sick of trying to be someone else. I don’t want that to happen. I want to work in films till the rest of my life.
‘I Don’t Want To Take Up Characters That Fail To Make Any Difference To The Story’
Q. From hereon, how are planning to pick up your scripts? Will you going by the gut feeling or do you have any checklist?
A. I want to take up roles that add value to a film. I don’t want to take up characters that are just there and fail to make any difference to the story. Even if my character is adding a slightest difference to the story, I would love to do it.
Q. Any recent film which you watched and wished that you were a part of it?
A. Raazi. When I saw that film, I was really blown away. Firstly, I thought Alia Bhatt was just outstanding in that part. There’s a lot to learn from her as an actor. But apart from that, I felt that despite bein female-centric role,it did so well at the box office. It changed a lot of things for women, in general. Alia may not be a veteran actor.. she’s not a Madhuri Dixit or a Kareena Kapoor who has been in the industry for so long. So to be that young and be able to do a film that completely runs around you, I thought that was very inspiring.
‘I Have Grown Up On Hero-centric Cinema & I Am Glad That Actresses Like Alia, Taapsee & Bhumi Are Breaking That’
Q. You have fresh talents coming in every year and there’s cut-throat competition in the industry. How do you view this scenario and what do you feel is your USP?
A. You will always have a lot of new people coming in the industry. I hope that continues. I have a dream and a lot of people don’t. I can really feel these people because everyone wakes up trying to make their dream come true. So, I will be very welcoming to more people coming. I am really glad that web shows have reached such a good level. There is such great content being made with new people.
When it comes to my USP, I don’t know about it. We will just have to wait and see (laughs). I have heard from people that I smile a little too much and ridiculously. Someone recently complimented me on my smile and I was like, ‘Yes, because I don’t know how to fake a smile.’ But, I think I look like a fool when I smile. (bursts into laughter)
Q. Which actress’s work do you look up to?
A. Alia Bhatt, Bhumi Pednekar and Taapsee Pannu. They are taking up female-centric roles and their films are also doing well at the box office. As a child, I have grown up on hero-centric cinema and I am really glad that all of these women are breaking it.
Q. Lastly, along with compliments, social media also brings in a lot of trolls and unsavory comments for actors. How do you deal with that?
A. So far, no one has really trolled me or written anything bad, so it would be unfair to comment on it. People have really been showering me with love. But if this was to happen, I feel you should just take it with a pinch of salt. In fact, you should also take compliment with a pinch of salt and shouldn’t let it get to you. You know your truth and you should just stand by it.