Q. How did acting happen for you? Also, tell us about your first break in Bollywood?
A. Like a lot of people, I was fascinated by cinema from a very early age. I loved watching films and wanted to be like those larger-than-life characters which I saw on screen. Nothing made me happier than this. To add to that, I wasn’t too interested in studies, but always keen to explore new stories. So, I started working in school and college theatre. And after that, people started noticing me and that little fame transitioned into a professional choice. My first break happened with YRF’s Shuddh Desi Romance. I had auditioned for a different film with them but that didn’t work out. But Shanoo Sharma, the casting director at YRF, really liked my take and asked me to meet Maneesh Sharma. That is how I got my first break.
Q. You are from the FTII. How do film schools shape one as an actor?
A. A formal training gives you the confidence that you know your job. It gives you the range to portray various characters and it also helps you to develop a process that will help you to grow all your life. FTII has nurtured me as an actor and as a person. I was raw and directionless before I went to FTII but it gave me a vision. Not just in acting, it helped me learn all the other aspects of filmmaking including cinematography, editing and direction. It made me ready for films altogether.
Q. As an actor, whom do you look up to?
A. Daniel Day Lewis. He is an institution in himself.
Q. What kind of roles do you find attractive?
A. Anything that pushes me out of my comfort zone. Anything that demands me to surrender myself as an actor. I always wanted to be part of a series like Avengers. But the stage at which I am right now, I feel there is so much that I can explore. It’s just the beginning for me.
Q. You are working with Nagesh Kukuonoor in a web series. Could you tell us more about your role here?
A. Nagesh’s series revolves around women not getting combat position in the Army. I play Captain Rohan Singh Rathore, a Special-Forces aspirant, who feels that men are superior to women. He respects women but he feels that women are to be protected by men. His dad is a general in the Army and he is brought up in a family who believes in male superiority. His grudge with Nimrat Kaur’s character is that she shouldn’t be trying for the Special Forces because according to him, she doesn’t belong there.
Q. How was it playing a male chauvinist on screen?
A. I would not say that it was difficult. But surely it is very different from what I am in real life. In reality, I have huge respect for women and I genuinely believe that they are much more giving and capable than men. In fact, I am very close to my mom and she has been the backbone of our family.
Q. How was it working with Nimrat Kaur?
A. Nimrat is a delight to work with. She is very down to earth and very aware as an actor. We have become great friends now as most of our scenes were shot together. Sometimes in a take, when we have to be fierce with each other, we end up laughing because we share a completely opposite equation in real life.
Q. Could you please share your experience working with Nagesh Kukunoor?
A. Nagesh Kukunoor is a pleasure to work with. He is so sure of what he wants that you start feeling confident about yourself just by talking to him. He has been an actor himself so he knows how to get the best out of an actor. His whole vibe is international.
Q. Many actors after establishing themselves in Bollywood think of working on web series and TV serials. What makes them chart this route to the small screen?
A. Frankly, I have been offered TV but the content was never something that excited me. Web is now a huge medium and its audience is growing manifold every day. My sole reason to go for a web series had to do with the content it churns.
Q. Also, your next film, called Bank Chor, is soon to be out. Could you tell us more about this?
A. Bank Chor is a comic caper. It tells the story of three morons trying to rob a bank who pick the worst day possible, when everything goes wrong. It’s about how they’re inadvertently caught in the crossfire. I play one of the three thieves alongside Riteish Deshmukh and Vikram Thapa.