You’re known as one of TV’s biggest, most bankable stars. How has the journey been?
I’m extremely grateful for these beautiful years that I have been blessed with in the industry. Ever since I was a child, it was my dream to do what I am doing. To be able to follow my passion and live my dream is a blessing. I am grateful to the people who have helped me through the journey and loved me for who I am. This is the best life.
Last year’s lockdown has played havoc with the minds of many people in the industry. How did you handle the forced hibernation?
It was a difficult year. But it was transformative for me. There was so much for us to learn from 2020. Negativity will keep hounding us, but we need to remind themselves that better days lie ahead... that you did not come this far only to come this far. The year taught us to be more loving, more giving, more accepting of one another, and to be better human beings.
What projects are you currently working on, and when do we see them release?
I have just finished shooting for a web series called Cartel, which will release later this year. I’m currently working as co-host on Super Dancer: Chapter 4. I just finished an amazing show with Amazon’s Audible, and I am excited that there are quite a few other things in the pipeline. 2021 looks good!
The industry can be a tough place to be in. What keeps you going back and looking forward?
It is a tough place. But which industry isn’t? It’s filled with competition, insecurities, and more negatives than positives. It’s very difficult to keep your head straight and be not affected. I always try to do my best because that’s all that I can do. I thrive to be a better version of myself every day. Yes, in this industry you’re constantly being judged, but you’ve still got to work hard and stick to your passion.
When I came to this industry, I would do anything for one chance to prove myself. But in most cases, when you’ve hit the ladder of success, you often forget the hunger that got you here in the first place. I constantly remind myself to be as hungry for work as I was on my Day 1 in this city. And most importantly, one needs to always remember to not take things very seriously. Have fun with life, and once you love life, just be in the present, in each and every moment, and let life happen to you. I just realised how I went from hardcore reality to being philosophical in seconds (laughs)!
Would you say that your success was a reinforcement of your faith in yourself, your abilities?
I absolutely believe that I am a by-product of my beliefs. I believed in myself even when no one did. I believe in who I was and who I am. Thankfully, people accepted me and loved me for who I am. When I came to the city a decade ago, I had no idea what I was going to do. I didn’t even know how to take a bus or a train. I didn’t know what a fast local or a slow local was. I was that naive. But all that I had in my pockets was the belief that there would be a day that I would make it. And here I am. Dreams do come true and things happen for you if you believe in yourself and work with all your heart. It won’t happen overnight, but it will, eventually. Never let anyone tell you that your dreams are too big to be true.
As an actor, what do you view as your strength?
As a human being, I am very sensitive. It helps me in acting because I feel too much. I can feel every emotion because of who I am in real life. If anyone else is going through pain, I feel it too. This makes me emotionally rich, and it helps me as an actor.
With OTT channels springing surprises like never before, do you think you’ve got a chance to showcase your talent better now and satisfy your creative hunger?
Actors are in a much better space today with the introduction of the OTT space. It gives a huge stage and acceptance. I know so many brilliant actors who were not considered as mainstream film actors and they were not part of television as well. All of these brilliant actors are getting their due on the OTT. The OTT has found them. It is accepting of a lot of actors who otherwise would have gone unnoticed.
Your idea of a relationship: To love someone at their best and worst, with their insecurities and shortcomings
What attracts you to a woman: Her idea of self-love
Your idea of an ideal friendship: It’s all in or nothing... Friends are people with whom you are emotionally vulnerable and naked. They are your true critics
A book that has inspired you: I’m not much of a reader, but of all the ones I have read, Tuesdays with Morrie is beautiful
Your most luxurious indulgence yet: When I am out on holiday, I rent supercars.
What’s on top of your bucket list: For now, I want to go to two places. One is Isha Yoga of the Sadhguru Foundation. The other is Adishakti for an acting workshop in Puducherry. My bucket list keeps changing
Your dream car: Once upon a time, my dream car was a Range Rover, and now I have it
Mountains or beaches: Definitely mountains
Living out of a suitcase or chilling at home: Living out of a suitcase
Your style staple: These days, oversized t-shirts or shirts
A piece of advice to the world: Love yourself to the point that the world is jealous of how superhuman you are. And believe me, being human is super
One role you’d accept without any hesitation: Any detective series... Sherlock Holmes!
HAIR & MAKE-UP: Samit Kamble, Hasan Salmani
Assistant photographer: Manisha D Ratnani
Artist pr: Shimmer Entertainment
Location: Dabboo Ratnani’s studio