Interview By: ANKITA R. KANABAR

He’s the man of the moment – considering he’s had such a great 2018 at the movies and 2019 has begun with ‘Uri’. Vicky Kaushal – Hindi cinema’s new find (not as new now though) has rose high and how! With the industry and audiences (especially women), being smitten by him in this manner – looks like he’s here to stay for a long time. We catch up with the actor to speak about his latest release, amidst more…

Everyone has been curious to see ‘Uri’ ever since the trailer was out. What was your reaction when the film came to you and the most exciting part to do it?
When I got a call from RSVP saying we are sending over a script to you, they didn’t tell me what it was about. They just told me it’s an army based film. Firstly, I was very excited because I wanted to do an action genre film. I was like, finally an action script coming my way, so I was excited to read it. When I actually read the script, and saw the title ‘Uri’ – I was excited beyond anything. Not just as an artist but I wanted to read it as the citizen of the country who wanted to know everything about the attack, the surgical strike. I read it purely from the audience’s point of view, not the point of the view of the actor. I was blown away by it, by the kind of research I could see in the script, by the kind of refinement I could see in it. When I spoke to Aditya – his vision towards the story, his vision towards bringing this on to celluloid – my excitement only kept increasing with every discussion and every draft. I think this was just meant to happen and I’m grateful that Aditya Dhar and Ronnie sir trusted me with this part because it’s nothing like I’ve done before – an out and out action film, with such a character, an army guy, with a hint of being an introvert. I’m just happy to be living this part.

While you said, you were so excited to read the script of ‘Uri’ as a citizen of the country, but also as an artist – how satisfying has been the feeling of doing this?

It’s been immensely satisfying, I can’t tell you! To live the part of an army officer, you feel it’s an honour – to see their perspective, to live the world through their eyes, to go through what they go through in the minutest way possible – and your love for them, your regards for them, increases to no bounds. It fills you up with pride and so much gratitude, respect towards them. I feel so lucky to have got to play this part. If this script had gone to any other actor, no actor would have let it pass. I am very happy that I got to be a part of such a novel story which every citizen of the country needs to know – know what really happened and how it happened!

In a way, this is your first out-an-out heroic character – you’ve played guys who are more real, vulnerable earlier, someone people can resonate with. But here you play a real life hero!
Totally. And I don’t even consider this as a hero film. I consider this as a superhero film. Officers from the Indian army are not just heroes, they are super heroes.

So, was the mental prep more challenging or the physical prep?
Both! This is the maximum amount of time I’ve given to a character, as far as the prep is concerned. I bulked up 15 kilos, took up a military training. You feel like a character like this will be challenging physically, and it is, immensely! But when you go on the set and wear that uniform, you feel so much responsibility on your shoulders! The uniform you are wearing, the medals on that uniform – the real military guys actually earn it; sometimes at the cost of their lives. And you are just getting to wear it because you are playing that part. That responsibility and pressure on you sometimes daunts you. It’s a true story – you are portraying the life of an army officer so it needs to be done in a very sensitive way and also has to be done in a responsible way. So that is the pressure which was constantly going in my head – you can’t be frivolous in your work. You have to take it as a responsibility. But in retrospect, despite all that, you feel that if I get to play an Indian army officer again, I would just happily do it. It’s the most stimulating experience as an artist and the most exuberating experience as a human being.

You’ve had a phenomenal 2018 with five different roles and appreciation for all! And you begin this year with ‘Uri’. In retrospect, how do you really look at how far you’ve come!
I really look at my journey with a lot of gratitude. Whatever happened was so organic, I was just putting my best foot forward in the job that I was given. It is surprising for me also to realise that I started my career in 2015, and in three years I got to work with the directors I got to work with, in 2018. It’s been such a tremendous learning experience for me. I had never imagined I would have a year with multiple releases and with directors who are so humungous and amazing. I just thank God and my stars, but I’ve promised myself that I won’t take it for granted and will keep pushing myself to the best of my abilities! And I’ve been so excited that this year begins with ‘Uri’. With this film, I’ve not gotten tired saying the same things again and again, or promoting the film. We are really proud of this film, and there’s been so much excitement.

How have your sensibilities changed now when you’re choosing roles, with the experience and growth?
I think my confidence has grown, I feel more fluid as an actor. When you work with different sets of people, different producers, co-actors, your perception, horizon widens. You are always gaining a lot. The most beautiful thing about being an actor is that no experience goes waste – everything just gets stored in your data base. I’m just growing as an artist and evolving in a beautiful way and I’m really looking forward to what I’ve next.

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