As a child what were your early influences towards cinema? Art, literature, graphics, photography?
It began with literature given the usual atmosphere in an academically inclined middle class family from Indore. My room-mate was my grandfather, I called him ‘bauji’. His resources when it came to literature was never-ending and that spiked my interest. I was also greatly consumed by graphic novels. ‘rusi lok-katha’ ram rahim, nagraj and all diamond comics characters were my favourites and amusingly enough i ran my little library where books were select, varied and quite a rarity in the area i lived.
How did you first become interested in the performing arts?
Debates, fancy dress competitins and solo performances made for the typical rite of passage for the enthusiast in me just like it does for every aspiring artist in the country, in fact the world.
What steps did you take to train yourself as an actor?
It started in Delhi where i indulged in theatre and worked as a radio jockey for Red and All India Radio. In the capital I watched, performed and watched more theatre supplemented by an avid interest in films from across the country and around the globe. The turning point came with getting enrolled in the prestigious FTII where horizons began to widen and and perspective went through many many makeovers.
How did your first film project come about? Tell us something about the experience.
I was still a student in FTII. It so happened that I was performing a play, (our culmination play at the Institute) called Dimagh_e_Hasti Dil Ki Basti, Hai Kahaan Hai Kahaan at Hare Rama, Hare Krishna Auditorium, Juhu. Ketan Mehta Sir, Deepa Sahi Mam were in the audience.It is then that they picked me for the character of Raj Varma in the film Rang Rasiya. That’s how it all began.
What are your inspirations?
Life to begin with is a constant source of inspiration. It is dynamic, at times slow, at times full of drama and laden with novelty. Any random thing on a given day can be inspiring. Watching a film, reading a biography, meeting someone new or speaking to an old friend can inspire and motivate me. Having said i strongly believe in the virtues of self motivation.
Is film acting intuitive or is it something you learn?
Both. In isolation as well as a combination. Intuition is something i believe everyone has. Education or developing the said skill helps you express it in a more grammatically sound manner. I am a believer of technique, method as well as disruption of the same depending on who I am working with and what i am working on.
What part does risk-taking play in your work, if any?
I think it’s time that they use risk taking as a synonym for the word acting. Ha ha. I mean every moment, every, audition, every performance, every decision becomes fairly engulfed in risk. That again explains why the educated middle class wouldnt want their child to pursue acting.
Your favourite actors? At least two of them?
Every time I have a different set of actors i find astounding for separate reasons. Gary Oldman and Amir Khan however have been constants because of their character driven approach towards art. These are two men who had my loyalty pre FTII and post.
Any hurdles you have encountered in your journey. Things that are blocks in achieving your vision while working on your film.
Do you often get all that is in your wish list or is it a hard bargain every time?
Every actor’s dream is to be a working actor. So unless the working part becomes a way of the day it is definitely a hard bargain haha. My wish list is long and I guess it’s going to take a while to get it covered. That said, this uncertainty, adventure filled path routing our profession is that magic ingredient that keeps me going.
What is in the kitty now?
Just done shooting for Zoya Akhtar’s ‘Made in Heaven’. It is an interesting web series for Amazon. I also have Phantom’s ‘Sacred Games’ in the pipeline. Which I am yet to work in.
Any advice to the aspiring actors?
Think again. And again. And again.
Any memorable blunders?
Nothing that I can recall now.
Your dream project?
Since you said ‘Dream Project’; A film on ISRO where i play the character of a scientist.
Who would you like to take out for dinner?
My wife Naireeta and my nine month since I’m her babysitter these days.
What are you listening to right now? And most recent book? And Movie?
Coke studio Pakistan.
The Disobedient Darkness by Prateek Dubey.
This Australian indie film , “The Little Death”
Gaurav’s IMDB Profile is here…