Are you choosy about scripts?
I am not sure about what really clicks with the audience. But yes, I have been choosy since the beginning. Even when I was trying to be an actor, I was this way. It’s very, very necessary because you need to do something new that will click with this generation and maintain your individuality. For example, my latest show ‘Runaway Lugaai’ is something I’ve never done before and hence I’m not sure if it will click with the audience. There are times when the script might appeal to you, but when the show comes out, it turns out to be very different. Sometimes, it’s tough to make these choices but I won’t do anything that I don’t like. If I’m not attracted to the script or the character, I never go for it. Sometimes, it’s the other way around too. Earlier, I used to joke about it and claim that people who come to me are generally making good things, which is why they’re choosing me, and people who don’t think I am good enough to be in their films, are not making the right shows (smiles).
Your latest release ‘Aspirants’ worked really well…
Honestly, I was extremely nervous about that show. Right before the release of the finale episode, I couldn’t even sleep. The first four episodes had received a really good response, but since the last episode was all about revelations, I was not sure if the audience would receive it well. I’ve got mixed reviews, but now I am satisfied.
You entered the webspace before it was cool. What’s your takeaway from it?
(Laughs) When I started working, I never thought I’d start with the web; I just wanted to be a part of good stories and didn’t really have the privilege of choosing my medium. I just wanted to act and I wasn’t being offered 100 films. So yes, irrespective of any medium, if the script sounded interesting, I was all for it. It was while doing ‘Pitchers’ that I realised that I didn’t have the choice of medium. Back then, I was desperate for work too. I was lucky enough to get an opportunity —with a proper story and character. Despite that, I wasn’t really expecting it to be a success, because the web didn’t have an audience base back then. But it worked out so well! Post ‘Pitchers’, it became about choosing good scripts and making conscious choices, without thinking much about the results.
Another thing that I’ve learned is that, in the entertainment space, if you just hang in there for a good enough period, good projects will happen to you. You will come across failures and disappointments too because you cannot really control them; even if you give your 100 per cent, there are 99 per cent chances of you failing, because it depends on your work. I am saying this because I’ve been in that place. The idea is to just keep looking for good stories.
Do you feel web shows are heading in the right direction?
Well, they are not heading in the wrong direction for sure (laughs). But yes, the makers have now tried to make a formula and strategy to make a show work, which wasn’t there before. Like they used to insert item songs in films earlier, now there are people who feel that putting cuss words and intimate scenes will make the show work well, irrespective of the content. This is maybe because producers, at the end of the day, are dealing with money and it’s all business, right? Nowadays, there are a few people who try to be artistic and focus more on telling appropriate and good stories.
What were some of the obstacles and challenges you faced when you started out in the industry?
I don’t think I had an option; for the longest time, I was waiting for the right script and great scripts don’t really come to you very easily. Sometimes, I had to take up projects for money, to pay my bills. My love and passion for acting kept me sane. I wanted to be here, I was enjoying this a lot. It has been a process of trial-and-error. The industry doesn’t grant you success at your first shot, hence patience is very, very important. For actors like us, waiting is a very important part of our job–waiting for the right script, show, character, and time for it to be a success. I’m cool with waiting. And now since I’ve done both good things and average things, I know success is not permanent. Having said that, even failure isn’t permanent. If you are at it, and you’re looking for good things, you will fail, and you will do well sometimes. I am not letting the success of ‘Aspirants’ and other shows go to my head. But yes, it has given me a lot of confidence. Now, I suddenly feel like I belong after a very long time.
Being in a creative space can sometimes be overwhelming too. How do you take care of your mental health?
I am a firm believer of what Sandeep
bhaiyya shares in the fifth episode of ‘Aspirants’ (smiles). There needs to be a balance of everything in life; there are many more things to enjoy, this profession is just a part of your life. I am a very family-oriented person and because I connect and stay in touch with them, my mental health is fine. Though I have my share of bad days too, they have been a strong support system.
Are you happy with how things are shaping up for you in the industry?
Honestly, I’m very happy right now. ‘Aspirants’ has done so well; I think it has brought me back into the game. I’m not really thinking about my future, as an actor, or, the kind of career prospects and the kinds of roles I want to do. I am absolutely fine with not shooting and sitting at home.
What upcoming projects are you working on?
I completed shooting for a film two years ago (laughs) with Sanjay (Mishra) sir. However, I don’t know when it will release. They wanted to release it in theatres but I think now they should release it on some platform. I didn’t really work during the lockdown apart from shooting for ‘Aspirants’. The kind of mode I am in right now, I’m not looking forward to the work that I don’t want to do right now. Let the situation get better, only then I’d start with something. There is some stuff and scripts, but we don’t know when it will go on floors.