Interview By: Drishti Pandey

He is just five films old. But the kind of consistency that he has shown in his short but illustrious journey is absolutely laudable. Whether it’s an ambitious student (SOTY) or a confused and under-confident businessman (Hasee Toh Phasee) or an angel-hearted criminal (Ek Villain) to an aspiring author in Kapoor and Sons – he has pulled off every role with ease. Apart from being appreciated for his performances, all his movies have fetched good numbers for the producers too. We caught up with the heart-throb at his place as he basks in the success of his recently released movie (which is still running and is loved by masses as well as classes and opens up about other things in his career. Read on for excerpts.

How satisfying is it to be part of a film which is based on a True Story?

It’s really satisfying because it’s not so often that we get to work on a real story and more importantly when it’s related to our freedom movement; so yeah it’s a great feeling to be a part of a film like this.

We’ve mostly seen you portraying hard hitting roles, how appealing was this character for you?

Of course this one has a special space; I admire Meghna Gulzar as a writer, director. When I saw ‘Talvar’ I wished I would have been there but now I am working with her so it’s an amazing experience.

You are a trainer of Sehmat (Alia Bhatt) was there a reference point for your character, does that character exists or it’s a fiction character?

Yes it’s a real because somewhere the person may be existing, because it’s been 40 to 45 years ago this incident had happened. We don’t know where he is and not sure if he is still alive or no.  But the reference point was the script, it becomes your only source and then you have so many worldwide agencies like raw agency, intelligence agency and how they function for example ISI, and many other sources become the reference point. And training part is again in books and we see how these people get trained.  As I am the student of history it was important for me and I knew what the poltical- social scenario was at that time. So it was important to read and I went into detail and found more helpful information for my character.

Did you read the book ‘Calling Sehmat’?

I chose not to read the book because it didn’t seem necessary because the script was sufficient enough; and even Meghna was not keen on it that we read the book.

How was it to be directed by Meghna Gulzar?

She is a mastermind, she is a genius, her Pre – production is so intensive, everything was on papers and all pictures were ready. So half of the work was done by them for every character so there wasn’t anything to get worried because your director knows what to do and what not to;  so it’s really helpful for the actors if their directors know what the actors want. Not only that, she even knows how to get it out from me as an actor, as a person. So, she is quite interesting and knows exactly what she wants from the dialogues to the scene it’s just perfect.

How is it to work with actors who are as supportive as you are in a scene or in the whole process of filming?

It’s always a great experience because whenever you are working with great filmmakers, you feel you are in a safe place and you get helped by them. There is nothing called as solo actor because you are not alone in the frame so you cannot save the film if your co- actors are not in the same zone as you are.  That’s why films like ‘Raazi’ needed good actors to portray the real characters, real emotions; everything is realistic in that way. And working with Alia, Vicky, Shishir sir and all others is an amazing experience because they all are good actors. They help you on the set and during the scene, so the actor grows with it.

Has there been a time when you feel to just escape and have your quality time?

During ‘Raazi’ at the initial stage it did happen, but  preparing for ‘Raazi’ was very close to my heart because you have to understand the emotions of those people; as how they must have felt and how they faced the situations.  So those feelings at times get heavier on you because if you start connecting with their emotions and realize that they have had a really tough life.  So yeah, it feels heavy but then its part of your job and we can’t run away from it so we have to do it.

10 years of being in this industry, how welcoming was it or were there times of giving up?

It’s been really good; I don’t get satisfied that easily. I’ve always been greedy in that case (smiles) but it was welcoming. In all these years people loved my work, aspired, inspired me, they motivated me in doing more good work. And giving up hasn’t come in my mind ever so that wasn’t a problem for me anytime. I don’t feel like giving up things because if its mine its mine there’s no point giving it up to something which is not worth and I am the kind of person who thinks that I know I can do it. And ups and downs are always there in everyone life and in every field so we choose something creative, something uncertain and we enjoy our journey otherwise there is no point doing it.  So far it’s been a good journey and with every film I feel I have just started so it’s the same feeling. And ‘Raazi’, is a very special film for me; I feel it’s going to be a great journey after this.

Coming from a non filmy background what has been your inspiration to work harder and stay back?

I believe there is no one thing called inspiration it changes every time, I think the one thing that inspires me every day and every time is my dreams.  And if we talk about people then there are so many of them, your family, your childhood friends who are doing great job in their own field and inspire you from wherever they are. There are great actors, filmmakers in cinema so there are people everywhere that inspire you, you just need to look at them and feel inspired.

One thing you dislike about the industry but have to pretend to like is?

It’s not only about the industry but it’s in all fields. I personally feel no person is happy in the place they are; be it in any field because there are times when you say you do not like it but then it’s your job; it’s like having a bad child. If your child doesn’t live up to your expectations we don’t give up, we just work on it.  At times we comment on things for not being good or right but at the same time we are part of it we cannot deny ourselves so just be happy and move on.

Was there a point when you felt you were stereotyped for only having negative roles?

Yes, definitely! That feeling comes when you see that  the director is seeing you in a particular way that’s why I am happy that I am doing ‘ Raazi’ and then two films with Dibakar Banerjee. I am happy with it because these directors saw something different in me and they are trying to remove it out and I am sure they have succeeded in it. Because they see me as an actor and not as a man who looks tough and have heavy build and looks intense.  I don’t think it’s the only thing to see but of course good looks comes first but who says tough looking guys don’t cry and they are always the villains. But yes films like ‘Raazi’ and working with people like Dibakar Banerjee, Kamal Hasan will show a very different scenario of me.

As an actor what have you discovered in you, that you never knew about yourself?

I have started accepting things the way they come. The thing I learnt in life is to have different point of view; you cannot say everything you say is right. Right and wrong is always subjective, they are always in context and that’s how I look at my characters also because if I can play a negative character then I am even playing a good character so the point of view is really important and we need to understand everyone point of view. We need to understand what’s there in their mind because if we know then we can help the other person to make it right so it’s necessary to understand others point of view.

What’s’ next after ‘Raazi’?

After ‘Raazi’ I’m working in two films with Dibakar Banerjee, one with the banner Flying Unicorn entertainment who made ‘Bombay Talkies’ with the same four directors, they are making four films but under one name ‘Love and Lust’ and this time there is Manisha Koirala, Sanjay Kapoor and myself.  And other film which has Parineeti Chopra, Arjun Kapoor Tina Gupta, Rajat Kapoor.

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