Interview By: Ankita R. Kanabar

He might have played this deadly villain in ‘Holiday’, but for real, Freddy Daruwala is a simple half Gujarati-half Parsee boy from ‘Surat’ who came to Mumbai with just Rs. 20,000. Despite that accolades that his debut film got, it’s been a while since we saw him on-screen. In this freewheeling chat, he opens up about what took him so long to do another film, and the challenges that newcomers face in the industry…

“The phase after ‘Holiday’ was more difficult because I didn’t know what to do next; what is right or wrong”

‘Holiday’ was such a hit, and you got noticed in such a big way through the film. What all has been happening post that?
Something or the other is always happening, but I always keep myself under wraps, I am not someone who shouts about what I’m doing. Now that I’ve finished filming all the three films that I was working on, I thought I must talk about it. The industry is crowded and if you do not shout then you probably will not be heard. I’ve finished shooting for all the three films – that is ‘Force 2’, ‘Commando 2’ and there’s a nice small film called ‘Mia-Ek Ummeed’ with a new director called Rajat Mukherji, who used to assist Arbaaz sir on ‘Dabangg 2’.

Was there also a conscious decision to not get stereotyped in the bad boy image?
Even when there are many offers coming your way, when you are not from the industry, you have to be very careful about what you are choosing. One wrong choice you make, and people will pull you down. I didn’t get the right scripts, that’s the main thing. It doesn’t matter whether you do a positive lead or negative lead but as long as you have certain weightage and you get a chance to showcase your skills, that’s what matters. You cannot be in a film just for the sake of it. I was waiting for a film that would actually give me a chance to showcase my skills. There were a lot of films that I didn’t want to do, because there wasn’t much for me to do in those films. But honestly, if you see, there’s no difference between positive and negative. That line is blurring. I got a lot of offers for negative leads and supportive characters, but I got received very well by the audience. When I go to meet people, they tell me, you look so different, so good looking, full hero material. I remember when I went to Kapil’s show, he told me, you’re so handsome, why did you play a villain. But the idea behind all this is that, I love acting. So, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a positive role or negative role. It’s a good thing, it means people thought I played my character convincingly. I wouldn’t lie; obviously, there is a fear of getting stereotyped. But now the difference between the new-age villains and heroes has blurred. It’s not like before when there were villains like Amrish Puri ji or Pran. Now, people hate our characters, not us. They know the difference between off-screen and on-screen. Even now when ‘Holiday’ is on TV, people send me messages. But now I’ve started getting offers for positive roles also.

From modeling to films, how has the journey and learning been?
When I see myself on-screen, I always know there are thousands of people who will be dying to do what I got. So I feel blessed. At the time of ‘Holiday’ there were big names being considered. I feel lucky that my journey has been good. Everyone works hard, I have also worked hard and dreamt but to get a chance, get to work with such people and then get appreciated, it’s a big deal. I consider myself lucky, but it’s not been an easy journey. I was a top model, so I knew all about modeling, but when I came to films, I didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t know what is right and wrong. At a beginner’s stage, I’m still learning a lot of things – so while doing that, you obviously make a lot of mistakes. There are so many things you should do that you won’t. Being an outsider, understanding how things work, becomes more difficult. But somewhere, amidst all this, you find a place for yourself.

“Some people succeed soon and some take years to succeed; but if you have potential, then you will eventually be noticed”

Was the phase before ‘Holiday’ more difficult or the one after that?
After ‘Holiday’, getting something good and being choosy was difficult. It’s difficult to understand, how to go about things and what to do. So the phase after ‘Holiday’ was more difficult because I didn’t know what to do next, what is right or wrong.

Is it also important to keep honing your skills?
Absolutely! Working on your skills is an on-going process – my action classes, my acting workshops, my dance class – all that is a part of my daily routine. I’m just like any other youngster who comes to the city thinking, I want to make it big. Some people succeed soon and some take years to succeed; but if you have potential, then you will eventually be noticed. It’s also the luck factor that works hugely in this industry. Everything has to fall into place at some point, but I’m still carving my journey I would say. I’ve been lucky and I’m thankful to people who’ve given me chances and especially to people who’ve loved my work. So on the whole, I’m in a happy space.

This world is definitely not as easy as it looks from the outside, it requires so much hard work – what is it that keeps you going?
My dreams keep me going. I came to Mumbai with Rs. 20,000 and then I’ve kept working. I’m quite ambitious, every day I feel I have so much to do. So I started modeling, and then acting. I enjoyed doing it. I still want to do many great roles in life that will keep me going. When I see movies and people acting so well, I also get inspired from them to keep working hard. And this industry is also made up of kind people who definitely give you a chance if you are talented. Eventually, as people, all of us have a dream and vision for ourselves – whether it’s a director, producer or actor. So, if you are working hard, people will slowly start recognising you.

Tell me about your role in your upcoming film ‘Mia – Ek Ummeed’.
I play a lawyer and the film is about unethical drug trials in India. It’s absolutely different from what I’ve done. When you play a lawyer, you have to go through some real life cases, see a few films and understand the anatomy of lawyers and court cases. It’s the role of a guy who is fighting about all the odds, he understands the world better. So, emotionally it was heavy on me. There are a few scenes where I even cried. It takes a toll on you eventually. It’s not a huge commercial film, but it’s definitely going to do rounds of international film festivals. We’ve got a UN screening right now. For my growth, it was important that I connect with the character which I did. I believe it should be ready by January.

And then there’s also ‘Force 2’ and ‘Commando 2’?
Yes, in ‘Force 2’ I have a special appearance, but it’s an important role because the film starts with me and what happens with me, leads the film all the way till the end. And ‘Commando 2’ is definitely special. We’ve shot some beautiful action scenes in the film because the first part has raised the bar when it comes to action. My look is absolutely different from what you’ve seen in ‘Holiday’. My character is also different. It has twists and turns till the end and people will keep watching it.

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