After several rejections, walk-in auditions and a six-year-long wait for his chance in the spotlight, Siddhant Chaturvedi, the breakout star of Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy, is exactly where he always wanted to be.
As MC Sher, a sympathetic mentor to Ranveer Singh’s budding rapper Murad, Siddhant has won over critics and the audiences with his charismatic screen presence and confident acting.
Megastar Amitabh Bachchan is one of the admirers of his performance and recently sent a handwritten letter and a bouquet of flowers to Siddhant.
The 25-year-old actor, who studied to become a chartered accountant like his father but left it midway to pursue a career in Bollywood, says he started trying his luck at the age of 19.
“I struggled for six years and there were many rejections and low points along the way. I started from the bottom. But I always had this raging ambition to go out there and prove myself with that one perfect opportunity.
“I always used to think ‘ki apna time kab ayega’. And as luck would have it, Zoya had been looking for MC Sher for a year and I happened to be there at the right time,” Siddhant told PTI in an interview.
Zoya spotted Siddhant just days before the film’s shooting while he was dancing at the success party of Excel-produced Amazon show Inside Edge, where he played the role of a rookie fast bowler.
The rest, as they say, is history.
“I joined the film just 22 days before the shooting so it was not like I had a rap background, nothing. I knew that this was a grand film and I had to give my all to the role. But I was also conscious that just because it is a big opportunity, I should not overdo it. All I wanted was some respect and appreciation for the role but what I have got is beyond my expectations,” he says.
His MC Sher is a confident but gentle soul, a feminist and a secure artiste who takes a struggling rapper under his wing. Plus, he has one of the best introduction scenes in the film with the song Bhaag, bhaag Sher aaya’.
Ironically, it was his co-star Ranveer’s debut film Band Baaja Baarat that gave Siddhant the confidence about finding his footing in movies without a family name.
“Playing a lead role is always the dream. But I also knew that nobody was going to launch me because I don’t have a market value in terms of a name or a family background. So I always thought that let me be a good actor first, public will make me the star if they like me.”
Siddhant says there were offers along the way but he did not want to do something for money.
“My father always told me, ‘Don’t do something if your heart is not there’. I could have earned more money. They say beggars can’t be choosers but here I was being choosy because that’s what makes or breaks an actor.
“I did Inside Edge to establish myself and some ads here and there for pocket money. I just kept myself ready for a good film. I knew that Gully Boy was one such film where every actor will get to shine and that’s what has happened.”
The actor, meanwhile, is happy that he has made his film-buff parents proud. “I think they have watched the film 15 times already,” he adds.
Asked about the future plans after this, Siddhant says he has not thought much and does not even have a manager or a contract in place but playing the leading role is at the top of his wish-list.
“I don’t want to be a star for money or fame. I want to be a star because then you have better choice of roles. You need a bit of luck and hard work for that.”
Siddhant considers his father, Ranveer, Zoya, and film’s producers Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani his “MC Shers”.
“While watching the film, I could connect with Murad’s (central character) journey. Some of the things have happened to me, people have tried to put me down and I have been replaced from films because I did not have a name but I built my confidence slowly.
“Farhan sir spotted me first for Inside Edge. He mentored me. Zoya gave me this opportunity and Ranveer was a great co-star who encouraged me and instilled faith in me,” he adds.