Q. 1 With many newcomers entering the industry, do you feel the pressure of treading cautiously and making the right film choices?
I feel that in the initial years of my career, I want to do films that I can relate to, and infer from real life incidents. So, I only follow that! My films, Vicky Donor and Nautanki Saala, in which I played a Punjabi character and a theatre actor respectively are culled from my real life. In Hamara Bajaj, I’ll be seen as a struggling actor. I could relate with my role in Bewakoofiyaan, as I’ve gone through that phase when I had spent all the money I had on my wedding, with only Rs.10,000 in my bank account. So, I deliberately choose scripts which are more realistic, and have some resemblance to my real life.
Q. 2 While most industries, are firing employees and cost-cutting due to recession, films are making more and more money each year. Do you think that the entertainment industry remains unaffected by it?
I think only artists live in a bubble, a fantasy world believing that everything is alright. It’s the distributors, and exhibitors, who actually go through the grind. The theatres are constantly running schemes on certain days and selling tickets at a discount to lure the audience. But, for artists, this is the best time, because everyone is doing well. We are in a lala-land right now, far away from the scenario where companies and even studios have, in order to beat recession, fired people.
Q. 3 Is that the reason why we have producers making small-budget, high content films? Vicky Donor is one of the best examples.
Cinema has changed over the years. The line between commercial and parallel cinema is becoming blurred. The audience has become intelligent and they want fresh entertainment. I think cinema has become more aspirational. Earlier, during the 80s and 90s, television was more aspirational, now there’s a complete switch and a dramatic turnaround. We now have producers ready to back exciting content, because it’s the need of the hour. Now people look forward to films on the basis of the first look promo.
Q. 4 Today when the box-office has become a sole-criterion for judging a film, do you fear failure?
Honestly, I don’t think like that. I’ve seen failure so many times in my life, that I’m not scared of failure or competition.
Q. 5 When you say you’re not scared of failure, where does that kind of security come from?
I think security comes with failure. Like I said, I’ve seen so much failure that I know what it is. The new breed of actors haven’t seen failure, they don’t know what it is. I’ve seen rejections so many times in my life. So, whatever I’m doing right now, wherever I am right now, I just think I’m very fortunate.
Q. 6 So, there’s no desperate attempt to prove yourself with each film?
That was never the case with me. I never sang before Vicky Donor, even though I could sing, while hosting a musical reality show. But there was no desperation to sing. I’ve always believed that when the time will come, right opportunities will come, things will happen. I don’t think you can just push yourself.
Q. 7 How do you deal with competition?
I’m very content as a person, I’m ambitious when it comes to my craft, but not when it comes to someone who’s racing with me. I’m probably someone who’ll allow the other person racing with me, to go ahead (smiles).
Q. 8 Does the fact that you started out early, work in your favour?
Yes, because when you start out early, you have a lot more experiences, and know how to deal with failure. Other newcomers are just starting out and have not seen failure. I’ve never felt that I’m a newcomer, because I’ve already done so much before I did a film and started from ground zero.
Q. 9 Do you think these experiences are helping you take risks in your personal and professional life?
My experiences have made me fearless. No guy will ever have the courage to marry so young, when he wants to be an actor, because the profession demands so much out of you, that it may actually kill your personal life. You have to be courageous enough to do that. So, I have to balance my professional and personal life. I’m the only one among my contemporaries who is married and has responsibilities. It does give you maturity when you take responsibilities at such a young age.
Q. 10 Do you believe that actors have to constantly promote themselves, through social media and other means in order to survive competition?
Promotions are the need of the hour. You have to promote your film to make people aware of it. But having said that, I would never over-promote myself. If you see my tweets, I’m not really an actor, but an entertainer on Twitter. firstname.lastname@example.org