Gaurav Gera’s Chutki is as popular as his Nandu from Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin. The actor, who has been in showbiz for almost two decades, has more recently found a massive fan following online through his characters Shopkeeper and Billi Massi.
But before all this, Gera had already done a lot of work on television. Apart from Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin, where he played actor Mona Singh’s best friend, Gera was also seen in Mrs. Pammi Pyarelal. He has also appeared in reality shows like The Great Indian Comedy Show, Comedy Nights with Kapil and Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 9.
Gaurav Gera’s career also boasts of Bollywood musical Jhumroo, and films like Neal ‘n’ Nikki, Dasvidaniya and The Shaukeens.
It all, however, started for Gera way back in 2000 when he bagged his first TV show Life Nahin Hai Ladoo that aired on Star Plus. Here, the actor shares how he bagged the show and why he cried when it was pulled off air abruptly.
1. What was your first acting project? How did the project come to you?
My first TV show was aired in 2000 – Life Nahin Hai Ladoo, where I played the protagonist Laddo. But when I got selected for it, I was actually not ready. I thought whether I should accept it or not or should I gain more experience before saying a yes. Then I thought because it caught me, I should do it. So, I jumped into it.
I auditioned for it. I wasn’t new in Bombay. I was there for one-and-a-half years already. I was part of musicals in Delhi so I did dance sequences in that. Then I started getting ad films. I did 3 ad films and it was one of the random auditions. They saw my pictures and they called me. So, it was via an audition. That’s how it happened.
2. What do you remember of your first day on set?
I went to the shoot and in my very first scene, I am surrounded by women around a pool. And it was a dream sequence. Actually, my character was a simple nerd, but in my dreams, I was a very flamboyant writer. Jeff Pattison was my pen name. So, in the dream, I had all the women falling on me and everything.
The very first shot was intimidating. I had never seen cameras like that. I had never seen a TV serial shoot. I asked them if I’ll be given one line like it happens in ads. They said ‘yes we’ll shoot small lines and keep cutting it’. So I said one line and stood there. They asked me to speak further. I thought it was just one line. I didn’t know it was the whole page all together. So that was my first experience because I never knew how a TV show is shot, whether you say your line together or how you do it. My director was really nice. He then gave me 40 minutes to learn the lines and then we shot.
3. Were you nervous? How many retakes did you take?
I was nervous because I had never done it. I don’t remember how nervous I was though. I don’t get nervous a lot, but I’m sure I would’ve been nervous in it. Retakes did happen because you shoot from multiple angles. The opening (character introduction) scene is always very elaborate. There were several cuts.
4. Who were your co-stars? How was the rapport with them when you met them later?
Opposite me was Dipannita Sharma, a big model from Delhi, much taller than me. That was the story – a nerdy guy falling in love with a tall and very unachievable girl. So, he plays in his head that ‘oh my god, will she like me’. Then there was Manoj Pahwa who played my grandfather, and Sanjai Mishra who played my father. My director and writer was Victor (Vijay Krishna Acharya), who did Dhoom 3 and has gone to YRF camp now. The producers (Deeya and Tony Singh) were the same who made Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin. There are memories but it’s been years and people move on. We get into other projects and stuff. Whenever we bump into each other, we meet very fondly, but as such we don’t hang around.
When our show shut, I really cried. I was so attached to my first show ever. But that was the only time I cried. After that it never mattered. I let things be without bothering whether the show is working or not or has been shut. That was the only time it mattered and I cried.
5. If given a chance to go back to your debut role, what’s that one thing you’d like to change or do better?
When the show shut, I kept praying that I want something like that again. I couldn’t cope. It was 28 episodes. It was a weekly and got shut halfway. I kept saying to God that I want to do it again because I couldn’t do what I could have and God did give me 3 years later, something similar which was in Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin where I played Nandu. I played a nerdy guy again. I think it was a carry forward from Ladoo. In Jassi, I took some inspiration from Ladoo because I had already done it. Apart from that, I observed a friend of mine, who used to talk like Nandu. I observed the way he talked and his body language. So this time I was a little more prepared. But I really think Life Nahin Hai Ladoo was a very good and well written show. I really wish those days come back. Weekly shows were made so well in those days because they had time in their hands. We used to love being on the sets and create things sitting there. I think deadline is the boss now. You have to deliver and show six episodes a week. And I am talking about one episode a week.
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6. One film or role that inspired you to become an actor?
There is none really! But for the role of Ladoo, I think Anil Kapoor’s role in Eeshwar. He inspired me or maybe Raj Kapoor. He was a simple man in his movies. So maybe that.