“Carpe diem! make your current moment count”
How has life been during the pandemic?
It hasn’t been that bad. If there’s anything, I feel more evolved, informed, and I internalised things a little more. Like everyone else, I have come to realise what are the things with paramount importance in life.
And they are?
I won’t say that I have become a saint or that expensive, luxurious things don’t entice me. I’ve realised that there are more important things in life than materialism. Having a core value and belief system and being close to your loved ones is most important. Life is very volatile, and nobody knows about the future. Make your current moment count. Carpe Diem. Forget about the past and future because you have no control over it. Let go of your insecurities, and be positive.
You recently returned to the role of an NSG commando
in the film State of Siege: Temple Attack after the web series State of Siege: 26/11. How was it?
When the producers called me and said they wanted me to be the solo link between the series and the film, I felt very privileged. I had a very different opinion on the Armed Forces before I had done the first project. I’d just say I was less informed... But when I got into understanding what the NSG does, I realised that no matter what challenge or obstacle we face in our daily life, it does not come even 10 per cent close to what the commandos face — whether it is during training, camp or during a mission.
After the web series, my fondness towards the Army had grown. I started watching more Army-based films, and when I got a call for this film, I pounced on it. On set it felt special because I had already undergone the drill of understanding the body language, the mannerisms, how to hold the weapons... I knew a lot more than the others on the set. It felt good!
Post State of Siege: 26/11, have the nature of offers that came your way changed?
A little bit. Earlier I never used to get calls for web series and films. Now that has changed. It takes time. It doesn’t happen with one show because there is no dearth of actors. There is a lot of competition. But if something really good comes my way from television also, I won’t say no to it.
What has been the toughest part about navigating showbiz?
When we tag actors... say ‘TV actors’. That if an actor comes from the world of television, they are tagged until they take a deliberate break.
Big producers feel that unless that person is forgotten, they wouldn’t want to cast him or her in a web series or film. I feel that needs to change. It’s about time. In the West, you are not judged by the kind of work you have done, but how honestly and sincerely you have done it. That’s what matters.
The definition of hero has undergone a huge change in the past year and a half. How do you define it?
I feel a hero doesn’t mean he or she has to wear a cape. It doesn’t have to be someone saving lives. Someone who overcomes personal struggle, pain and misery is a hero in my eyes. It simply means you are strong, you don’t take no for an answer, and you don’t tell yourself ‘I am destined to be this way’. You don’t take defeat to your heart and mind. You strive for your ambitions and to be someone better every day.
I believe you are training in martial arts...
When I was younger, I used to do kickboxing. But martial arts had always been on my mind. I used to think it is too late and I am too old for it, and I should have done it earlier. I often used to tell myself that just because I didn’t want to work too hard towards it. I was in my comfort zone and was doing my regular gym. But the lockdown gave me a chance to pursue it. Now I say ‘thank you’ to myself for choosing to give it a shot because I realised that age is merely a number. I have come a long way in the past one year and I am proud of it.
This side of your talent remains largely unexplored on screen. Are you hoping for good action projects, considering there are only so many action stars in the film industry?
Yes, absolutely. I am hoping that my passion for action gets translated onto the big screen, someday. I did not begin to learn the craft because I wanted to be an action hero. I did it for myself. But today I feel confident that I can do this professionally on screen, and will be good at it. I am personally also a passionate viewer of action films. I like to see world cinema and I follow a lot of action stars from across the world. Jackie Chan is my favourite, and I am also a fan of Scott Adkins and Bruce Lee.
Vivek, do you remember how did your bond of fitness begin?
It started when I was in the ninth grade. I was a very skinny guy and my shirt would always be hanging very loose, dangling on my body. I think a Salman Khan had just come, and I had started to watch Rocky films and became a huge Sylvester Stallone fan. That’s when I decided to work on my skinny frame. I started doing push ups. There were no equipments and my family didn’t let me use the gym because they would feel ‘height ruk jaati hai’ at a young age. I used to shut my room door, and pick up chairs for bicep curls, do push-ups, put bricks and bottles in the school bag and pick them.
Slowly, I started seeing the result. There was a chest line! I started opting for fitted shirts, and began getting a lot of female attention... That’s how the journey started, and it has never stopped. It is a passion and a lifestyle now for so many years that I cannot be without it now. If my endorphins aren’t released, I will be grumpy!
Five qualities you value Professionalism, sincerity, open-mindedness (towards progression), honesty and punctuality
Weekend Indulgence? Sugar... Anything sweet! I don’t shy away from it
First career you dreamed of when you were a kid? When I was a kid, I was surrounded by girls of my age. I rarely had a male friend, and I used to play Doctor Doctor a lot. So I used to think I want to be a doctor
One thing your fans don’t know about you That I sometimes sleep talk!
Your current state of mind? To be indestructible in my own way. Not in the literal sense. But I want to keep my mind strong
Secret to a successful marriage? Good communication. Listen, absorb and have no ego clashes
What’s on your bucket list? To do a film as a protagonist before 2021 ends. That’s on top
Your life’s mantra? Self-improvement. I believe that you must keep working on yourself, instead of pointing fingers saying you are not something because of anybody. Work hard. Sooner or later, it will pay off. In my case, I feel it is taking time. But I have clarity in my vision and conviction that it will happen