So you have now joined the Rajshri hall of fame as one of their stars with ‘Love U Mr. Kalakaar’. How does it feel?
I feel privileged to be part of such a legendary banner. And it is especially thrilling to realize that I have done a Rajshri film even before my father! I was surprised when I first learnt this, but it is true that he hasn’t done a single film with them yet.
What is the film about and what kind of a role are you playing in it?
It is a love story between a freelance artist and a management trainee who is obsessed with numbers. The film revolves around how these diverse personalities connect with each other. I’m playing the character of Sahil. He is a cartoonist who, though he does have his aspirations, he wants to achieve things on his own terms. He prefers to go with the flow, stay away from the rat race. He is very spontaneous with whatever he does – an artist in the true sense of the word.
How close or distant is this character from you as an individual?
Quite distant, I would say. I strongly believe that to reach the top, you have to be part of the rat race. But Sahil does not believe that. By nature I am quite ambitious. I like to think of myself as a go-getter, though in my own way. But Sahil takes each day as it comes. He can hardly be called the ambitious type, though he does have his own dreams. So we are quite different in every way. Even in our everyday lives. For instance, Sahil has the habit of kissing his steering wheel before he stars his car. I wouldn’t do that (smile
What was your first impression about the script when you got it?
On hearing the narration, my first thought was that here was an authentic, young Hindustani film after a long time. Many of the movies of today have a distinct western feel, I think. And this was not the case with this film. The other thing was that it was a wholesome film with drama, emotion and romance all balanced beautifully. And the most important thing was that the pace of the story didn’t drop anywhere. I believe that if you don’t lose interest while hearing the story, the audience won’t lose interest while watching the film.
Did you have to make some kind of a preparation for this role?
I did have a general framework of the kind of character I had to play. I had to go into the mind of the character and connect with it. Of course, I also used some of my own life experiences and imagined how this character would behave in those situations.
You were working with a director who was making his debut with this film. Were there any initial apprehensions?
None at all. As you know, Manasvi has also written the story of Love U Mr. Kalakaar. And the manner in which he narrated the story showed the kind of grip he had over the subject. From the very beginning, it was clear that this guy eats, breathes and sleeps this story. In fact, he seemed to have already completed the film in his mind. And just as I was sure, even during the shooting, he was very clear about what he wanted and how to get it.
This is your first film with Amrita. What do you think of your pairing and how did you find her as a co-star?
Amrita and I had worked in Life Partner. But we never shot the film together. We kept bumping into each other at parties. But as a co-star, I noticed that she is a perfectionist. She likes to absorb herself completely in the role and that process can make her appear distant. We had to shoot some tough scenes in the beginning of the film’s shoot. And Amrita was concentrating hard on them. But later, she showed her real side, which is quite happy-go-lucky and fun-loving. There was instant chemistry between us.
You have this image of being an introvert who prefers to be by himself and who would rather do something else than act. But you seem to be the exact opposite of all that.
I really don’t know how it happened. But somehow this impression has been created that I am a shy, serious kind of a guy who was not interested in cinema. But I always wanted to be an actor. In fact, I even assisted David Dhawan in Chal Mere Bhai, Kunwara, and Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge. I’ve always been in love with films. And for God’s sake, I’m not an introvert at all. On the contrary, I have to be stopped when I get talking.
But you do seem to be a low profile actor…
Well, I’m not a Page 3 person. I’m not a socialite. Yes, I do attend parties and stuff but you won’t see me everywhere. Yes, being visible is important in this profession. But I believe in being strong as a person as that is what eventually comes across. Another reason for this image could be the kind of films I did initially. But hopefully, Golmaal has changed that impression to some extent at least.
It has. Your career, in fact, can be easily described as pre and post ‘Golmaal’. How was the experience of doing that role for the first time?
I was shocked when I heard that I had to play a mute character. I was reluctant to do it. I was wondering how I would match up to actors like Ajay Devgn, Paresh Rawal and Arshad Warsi, that too without dialogues! But then Vikas Kadam who is from Marathi theatre taught me how to modulate my voice to communicate. And when he showed me the kind of effect that could have with the right timing, I got the courage to attempt it. And it was heartening to see that it was so well-received.
Which are your other forthcoming films apart from ‘Love U Mr. Kalaakar’?
There is Shor directed by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK. It is a film about noise in the city. The film has three stories and I play the role of a petty thief, a bootlegger. It is a fast-paced film with touches of black comedy. The three stories run parallel to each but are connected in a way.