Has the chatter about your performances in Chacha Vidhayak Hain Humare, Aspirants and The Family Man sunk in yet?
I feel really blessed. There is gratitude, and an assurance that whatever path I have been on, is right. When random people bless me from the heart, it’s a huge thing for me. It may be a little filmy, but I really feel, Mera baal bhi baaka nahin hoga’ because there are so many people with me and watching me. If people are getting even a wee bit inspired, or learning something from the roles that I am playing, it is unplanned. But if I become a part of a good change in someone’s life, nothing is bigger than that. I am happy, and feel a lot of peace in my heart.
With fame comes greater responsibility. How do you see yourself handling it?
In the past few years, whatever work I did, was watched critically by my close ones and family members. Now a pool of so many viewers has been added. So I feel more responsible. But I don’t take this responsibility in a negative way. For me, responsibility is confidence. I will happily take that, with my feet on the ground and head on my shoulders.
Your next steps in the industry will be crucial in shaping your career further. Are you going to be more cautious and conscious about your choices?
That is a part of the responsibility, but I had never ever thought about where my career was heading. What I can simply do is to add good people in the journey of my life, and choose good scripts where I can add some flavour to a role. That is the enjoyment and the challenge. I really like dwelling into characterisations, like I did a Haryanvi accent in Aspirants, Indori in Chacha Vidhayak Hain Hamare, Bihari in Jamun, UP style in Bhaukaal and Punjabi in an upcoming show... I like to work on these aspects properly, and I am learning with experimentation. That’s what I like doing when we talk of responsibility.
I need to respect that (there will be more eyes looking out for me), and I don’t fear it. I want to collaborate with good, like-minded and passionate people. That’s what I am greedy about. Fame and money keep coming and going. It’s a part of our work. But life is bigger than that. I’m hungry for blessings, and I trust the universe for doing the right things at the right time for me.
OTT has been a boon for artistes. What makes it different from the film world?
The OTT world doesn’t have the risk factor that films do, and that makes the platform lend itself to experimentation. Streaming platforms are a blessing for new talent, and even for the existing talent in the industry to experiment. People are making path-breaking stories, and everything is getting an audience... And interestingly, for OTT, word-of-mouth is the box office collection!
You have been a part of the entertainment industry for over a decade. Does the taste of success get sweeter with struggle?
For me, the definition of success is very different. It is not defined by quantity of work. I think I was successful even before this current phase. If you are happy in your life, if you have those who you trust around you, if you are connected to your roots, your parents, your siblings, your spouse and close friends, that is success. If you sleep well at night, and subah achha paet saaf ho jaata hai, that is success. Work comes and goes. Usually, people don’t have this privilege of having their passion as their profession. My prayer to God is bas kaam karte rahun. That had been going on... now it is better.
You were young when you decided to be an actor, but you still pursued engineering. Why?
I had thought about being an engineer when I was in class 3. My father was an engineer and so I always thought this is it... I used to fill the slam book and write ‘engineer’ as my ‘ambition’. But slowly (Class 7), I understood I wanted to act. I used to watch the big screen and experience the magic of being taken to another world. But I wanted to be an engineer, and then actor. In fact, I tried IIT also... it is good it didn’t happen or I would have taken someone else’s seat for no reason.
Did your acting career pan out the way you wanted it to?
I did my first film in 2006, when I was studying. I thought after FTII, I will have a lot of films, but nothing happened. My first film released after five years of being made. Later I got around five films which never got released. The thing with life is you can’t plan... Just go with the flow, let things happen, and let the universe guide you. Nothing is in your hands. You just need to surrender, keep your interests and choices intact, and keep honing yourself. Working well is in your hands. How will it manifest is not in your control. So, find the balance. Like my character Sandeep Bhaiya in Aspirants says, “Life ka fulfilment balance mein hai”.
What’s your hidden talent?
Cracking PJs on anything and everything! I also like rhyming
One thing you would like to undo in your life?
Nothing! Everything I have done has made me reach where I am
Best piece of advice that you have got?
If you want to show your pride, do it in front of the camera. Otherwise, just bow your head and continue working
Favourite fashion trend?
Wearing confidence on the sleeves and a smile on the face! That’s what fashion is for me
The best thing about being an actor?
Being an actor is a very spiritual journey. In order to become a better actor, you need to be a better human being
The worst thing about being an actor?
Every step is being watched
Most important ingredient in a relationship?
Love. I also have a tattoo that says Absolute Love
Your idea of a ‘family man’?
Don’t get so busy pursuing your passion and profession that you forget your close ones, and when success comes your way, you have nobody to be proud of it
That I don’t choose scripts, scripts choose me
Hair & make-up: Sahil Anand Arora