Interview By: Ankita R. Kanabar
Post ‘Purani Jeans’, Tanuj Virwani is back on screen with an unconventional role in ‘One Night Stand’ opposite Sunny Leone. Filled with exuberance, here’s a guy who is animated and supremely passionate about cinema! All about filmy influences and more in this quick chat with the actor!
“Films are a reflection of the times we live in”
Sunny Leone mentioned that ‘One Night Stand’ was difficult for her to relate to. Did you share a similar sentiment?
I think this film is a reflection of the times we live in because a lot of extra-marital affairs and one night stands happen. The whole concept of relationships is changing. I’ve seen a lot of my friends and people around me indulge in these kind of things. So, it was not difficult for me to understand because you subconsciously know of a certain things. But there are some scenes or story arcs in the film which would have been difficult for me to pull off if there wasn’t a comfort level between the director, my co-actors and me or if we didn’t discuss it earlier. In films before this, I’ve been more boyish, but it’s now that I’ve made a transition from a boy to a man. I think it happens with age and some characters require that sort of performance from you. So, in that sense even for me this was an uncharted territory.
So you believe that workshops or prior discussions really help?
I like a bit of both – there are scenes where a certain level of spontaneity is important. That needs to be lead in the right direction otherwise you are bouncing off walls. It’s a team process so you need to be on the same page with your co-star as well, otherwise you might spoil their rhythm which is unfair to them. It’s a very healthy trend which has developed in Hindi cinema since the last few years where we have workshops before the film goes on floor. That really helps us have a better sense of who our characters are, what really drives them and what not. We had an eight day workshop, where we pretty much locked in the important scenes so when we were on set, we were able to have a little more fun within our parameters.
Are you someone who keeps a track of the changing trends and goes by them?
I firmly believe that films are a reflection of the times we live in, I think that the best example I could give you is James Bond which has been around since 1960-61; every film has been a product of the time that it released it. Now we are into more realistic portrayal of our heroes. But trends are something which change. What happens is, it usually takes about eight months or a year to make a film, so when your film is written and goes on floor it’s different but when it releases, sometimes the trends change. But I feel that a film should work irrespective of the time frame that we are in. We will go but our films will remain forever. So it shouldn’t be something that just works now, films should be timeless. So many old films are like good wine. For me, my favourite Hindi film is ‘Sholay’ and I like it even more every time I watch it. And today as they say, good content works, but I feel if you are able to marry star power with content then that’s an unbeatable combination.
“Actors are like detectives and thieves; we observe these little things around us, very smartly make it our own and present it to the audience”
Have films also had a huge influence on you while growing up, considering cinema forms such an essential part of our lives even as an audience?
Does this ever happen to you that when you see a film or a TV series, you subconsciously imbibe a lot from the lead character? For instance, when I saw Iron Man, I suddenly thought I was like Tony Stark (laughs). I don’t even think it’s something you do on purpose, but films are so deep-rooted amongst each of us. In India, if you take away films and cricket then what are we left with. This is something that every Indian loves and adores. So, it’s had a massive influence on my life and it continues to. Earlier now I was the audience, but now you tend to look at films a little more objectively. While growing up, my biggest influence was ‘Jurassic Park’. Let’s just say, I cannot look at a glass of water the same way again, that scene where it’s starts shaking. I loved ‘Baazigar’, that’s when it dawned upon me that I want to be an actor, but then I also forgot because when you’re young, you want to do various things. Which is why I feel blessed that so early on in my career, I am getting to play a character which has shades of grey.
But aren’t grey characters also more difficult?
I personally find them more fun. I would never be bad to someone in real life, but I can have that liberty when I am acting. To me, I like these edgy, dark, mysterious characters that have ulterior motives.
You are quite animated, aren’t you?
Yes, very! Sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes it’s a bad thing when your director wants you to be very subtle and mellow in a scene. There was a phase, probably we all go through that awkward phase between the age of 15 to 20 where I had a lot of inhibitions and then, I constantly worked on myself once I was in college. Now I’ve become a lot more of a people’s person. I don’t get conscious. Having said that, it’s important to rein in the animated behaviour and the exuberance, because certain scenes, characters, equations require a lot of thairaav. Infact, I had that problem in ‘Puraani Jeans’ where I was playing a character which is nothing like me in real life. There was no chance really to tap the exuberance. But that’s what acting is all about at the end of the day. I am an extrovert, but it’s also like a paradox because there are times when I’m shy but we are different around different people. It’s just something which everyone does. But you shouldn’t lose yourself too much.
You come across like someone who is so passionate about films.
Films are my life. So many feel trapped in the job that they do, and they do not like it, but for me work is my love and life. It’s therapeutic.
How important does it get to sometimes even look beyond films as an actor?
You have to look outside! I might be imbibing something from you. Actors are like detectives and thieves; we observe these little things around us, very smartly make it our own and present it to the audience. When I tackle a role, I make sure I don’t watch similar films because what happens then is that you trying to do someone’s nakal. I try and stay away from that. It has to be organic.