What was the starting point for ‘Thappad’?
It came to me through the casting directors Anjali and Karan who got in touch with me and gave me a one line theme. During this time I was doing ‘Ghost Stories’ and was travelling to London, so in haste I had send them my test and left for London. I didn’t know I was short listed and what was happening, until I reached London and Anurag Kashyap told me that Anubhav sir had called him to tell that he loved my test and wanted to cast me. I read the script while I was doing ‘Ghost Stories’ and loved it instantly and immediately wanted to meet Anubhav sir because I had not met him any time before this film happened.
Talking about the script, what do you have to say about ‘Thappad’ in terms of its content?
These social dynamic films when give a message mostly becomes one sided and boring. The beautiful thing about this film was that it wasn’t a one sided story, it wasn’t an anti-man fi lm, it had a balance of showing both the sides; my character was as human as everybody else’s. My character had a very thin line and it couldn’t have gone or there because at the end of it you want to hate this guy but you can’t hate him because he is a nice man but doing a wrong thing. The script was so layered, so nice and beautifully written; I was just got floored by it. I couldn’t wait to start shooting and know more about the story.
In that case, what is your opinion about the character you’re playing and how did you manage to get the pulse of the character?
Vikram is a very complex person and a hard role to play. He is actually a good guy doing the bad things and the people watching him want to hate him but the audience want him to say sorry so that they can get back together. I use to constantly have talks with sir about my character, because I didn’t want this character to look completely dark because then the men who are watching this film wont relate to this guy. And we didn’t want to put an image that ‘men will be men’ and that men are bad only. We wanted the audience to understand that everybody can change and he is also a victim of his own conditioning. He is a victim of his upbringing and we all have the ability to change it. Anubhav sir and Taapsee really helped me with the stories because I wasn’t relating to the character initially; they kind of told me the stories they have seen in their families, friend circle and all, so that kind of helped me. Also, I remember telling Anubhav sir that I didn’t do any prep for this character so he told me; every man has inhabitant for this part for all their lives because we have been learning this since childhood. So, I just need to go into my part and I will find many things like these which I totally agreed to.
What do you have to say about Taapsee as an actor?
I love the way she works, she is a thorough professional, she always reaches the set before time, she will never miss her lines; she is very professional person. I won’t say anything about her acting talent because we all know that she is a fantastic actor. I am lucky to receive so much love from Taapsee and Anubhav sir; they welcomed me with open arms. And I am glad that I and Taapsee have become good friends and I am happy that now I have a friend who advices me for things. Taapsee is a better human being to me and a thorough professional as an actor.
What has been your sensibility when you choose the projects you do?
It’s a very subconscious thing, also, it depends on the cinema I like to watch and I have managed to work with new directors and want to work with certain directors. While reading a script it has to be very instinctive, I rely on my instinct to choose a project and I rely on my mother because I send her all my scripts to read; so her opinion and my instinct combined together, I take decisions.
Do you feel there is a sense of responsibility that comes while choosing a role or a film as an actor?
I have never thought about being politically correct when I am choosing to do something because I am an actor at the end of it; I love acting whether it’s any part. If the part is good and I like the script I will go for it. I have never thought about what would people think about the character I do, and if I start thinking so much I won’t be able to do anything because at the end you can’t make everyone happy in life.
The kind of love and appreciation ‘Thappad’ has been receiving; did you anticipate this kind of response when the film was on papers?
Absolutely not, we knew that we were making a good film but we didn’t expect this kind of response. We were just making the film with utter honesty and we never thought if audience would like the film or not because Anubhav sir had his vision and he wanted to make it a certain way which was the honest part in him. So, I believe that honesty came through and people have really liked it which I wasn’t expecting. And the kind of messages and covers I am receiving it overwhelming.
Lastly, what do you take back from the film?
I think taking relationship for granted is a thing no matter who we are, what we do in our daily lives, or no matter how progressive or liberal we think we are. I think all of us have a thing to take relationships for granted. So, while working on ‘Thappad’ I kind of understood what I was doing wrong and now I am trying to improve that. Now when my mother calls me I pick up her call no matter what and I don’t take her for granted now which is I think I have learnt.