Vikrant Massey is one of the few actors who has been successful in doing films and TV shows at the same time. He became a household name with TV soaps like ‘Balika Vadhu’ and made his debut in Bollywood with ‘Lootera’ and was recently seen in last year’s hit film ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’. He has recently turned producer for short film and will now be seen playing the lead in Konkona Sen Sharma’s debut directorial ‘A Death in the Gunj’. In a exclusive interview with IndianExpress.com, Vikrant Massey spoke about his upcoming film, his production venture and his journey in Bollywood.
Excerpts from the interview:
Ques: You will be working in Konkona Sen Sharma’s directorial debut film A Death in the Gunj. You are playing a Bengali guy in the film. Tell us something about your character..
Vikrant: I am playing this character called Shyamal Chatterjee, a 23-year-old guy from a small village in West Bengal. He is very sharp and intelligent who likes writing and reading and at the same time some conflicted ideas are constantly running in his mind. If you actually ask me about the film, it is an interpolation of human relationships which is set in 1979 specifically the era telling about how people live in a society and the relationships between them. And the story that we are telling through “Shutu”, the boy’s perspective is very challenging because its a trilingual film – Hindi, English and Bengali – and lot of the dialogues are also colossal. The way we converse in our daily lives. It is also a kind of challenge for me to get my hands right on Bangla for which Konkona and Tillotama are helping me with it. We will be shooting for the film starting this January 27 till March 10.
Ques: After doing supporting roles in Lootera and Dil Dhadakne Do, you have landed yourself with a meaty role in this film. How does it feel working as the lead?
Vikrant: It feels good. I would be lying if I would say that I never wanted to be a lead actor. But at the same time I would say it’s a lot of responsibility also, it’s too much responsibility. There are total 100 people in the unit and a lot is dependent on me. The story is being told through you and it is a challenge and I as an individual, I think I can perform better under challenge. So, I am really excited for that and at the same time it feels good to be a protagonist in a story whether it is a TV or a film because you get lot of creative space for yourself. And the best thing is that I had never thought in my life that a National Award winning artiste like Konkona would become a director and I would be playing the lead character in that story. And then there are amazing souls like Om Puri, Tanuja, Kalki Koechlin, Ranvir Shorey, Tillotama Shome, Gulshan Devaiah and all these guys are masters of their arts. While we haven’t shot for the film yet, we have done workshops and it was a good indication that how it’s going to be. It will going to be lots of fun also, I am in safe hands and probably they will get the best out of me.
Ques: How different was it shooting for ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ and Gunj since both movies are entirely from different genres?
Vikrant: That is something which I am not bothered doing kind. My first film Lootera was again a period film on a very massive scale and it is was a challenge again and then I did Dil Dhadakne Do which was an outright Bollywood commercial film. The experience over there was very different because we were travelling for three months outside India. We were on a cruise, we ate the best of food, we had lot of fun. It was a fun loving film and then right after I did ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ with Prakash Jha productions which I shot in Bhopal. So, it’s amazing that people have faith in me most importantly. You sense a feel of achievement and trust when people like Konkona, Vikramaditya Motwane, Prakash Jha, Zoya Akhtar trust you. And I am glad that I have done different genres and different films and I hope it continues the spree. So it’s amazing to be experimental.
Ques: Do you feel that ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ helped you earn recognition in the industry?
Vikrant: Every single thing I have done in my life in the last 12 years, be it Doordarshan, TV shows, it has helped me reach where I am. I would not entirely say that because of Dil Dhadakne Do and Lootera I got this. I got DDD and Lootera because of my TV shows. So, you can’t take away all that. Balika Vadhu helped me get another work and my other work helped me get Balika Vadhu. It is a chain reaction that happens. People have been kind enough in recognising me and appreciating my work among some of the biggest names in the industry today. And the biggest compliment that I have got was when Aamir Khan called me at 2.30am in the night and told me that he saw ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ and said that you have done very good job in the film and we will meet up someday and work with you all the very best. It feels good with it.
Ques: So did you met Aamir after that?
Vikrant: I couldn’t meet him as I am busy and he is also busy. If God wishes, we will meet someday.
Ques: Would you like to work with him?
Vikrant: Why not. I would love to act but more importantly I would love to be directed by him and that will be a different scene altogether.
Ques: How was it working with the likes of Priyanka, Farhan, Ranveer, Anil Kapoor?
Vikrant: It was amazing. It was a different experience altogether. It was very surreal experience because these guys are such wonderful artists that we all are aware of it. We have seen them for years but these guys are unbelievable human beings. So real, so sensitive and so honest and after knowing them personally, it feels that whatever these people have achieved, they certainly deserve it because they are such honest people.
Ques: Do you feel ‘Gunj’ will be a path breaking film for you?
Vikrant: Well actually I have never thought of this. It’s a good film it will eventually end up being path breaking film for everyone, for my first time director Konkona, my first time producer Abhishek Chaubey, Honey Trehan and my first film as a lead. We are not making any pathbreaking film, it’s only that we have a good story and we are going to tell it in a good way. And if you check the history the most path breaking and outstanding films were very simple. So, we are just trying to make ‘Gunj’ and the rest is up to you and the audiences. If it becomes good then it is good thing.
Ques: You are also foraying into film production with 35mm. Is it something you always wanted to do?
Vikrant: Yes yes, even if I am being greedy, I always wanted to create content and show it to the people. I have few stories and ideas which I think I am not bad enough to tell the people. I always believed in curating content and the only way to do in our country is by turning producer. So, then I thought lets turn producer and see how it goes. And I also intend to produce feature films someday. So, 35mm is a short film which is in collaboration with Nivedita Basu. So both of us got together, we made a good story, we thought of making a short film out of it, we found the company and thats how it happened. The film is shot and finished and I have submitted it to festivals. Neeraj Kabi has acted in it. Priyanka Bose is in the film and we have one of the finest technicians in the country working on it. It’s an amazing feeling meeting the right people and collaborating with them is a different high altogether I think.The idea is to make good short films, submit it them to festivals beacuse it is a very different platform altogether. And I am someone who loves freedom of expression which is more in festivals. Whatever is in your mind, whatever you have it on your paper, you show it to people and it is also a good ground to understand because festivals they have boundaries where world competes with you. You learn a lot from different forms of cinema and you get to interact with the people from different parts of the world. You get to understand different mind sets of the people and its an open and approachable platform and I feel comfortable there.
Ques: Who is your dream director that you would like to collaborate with?
Vikrant: Aamir Khan is one of the them and I am dying to work with Vishal Bhardwaj and Imtiaz Ali. And if you ask me if I want to work with only one of them, then it has to be Vishal Bhardwaj because he makes one of the finest films. Be it Maqbool, Omkara, Kaminey, even if he has not directed but the content that he has curated like Blue Umbrella are one of the finest stories and who would not like to be a part of it.