Updated: March 11, 2021 9:18:42 am
Actor-writer Sumeet Vyas has been part of the showbiz for over 15 years now. And with him he has emerged as one of the most sought after faces, especially in the OTT space. He has carved out a place for himself through his roles in popular web shows like Permanent Roommates, TVF Tripling, The Verdict – State vs Nanavati, Dark 7 White and the recent 1962: The War In the Hills. The actor has also appeared in multiple movies including Veere Di Wedding, Made in China, High Jack, Ribbon, English Vinglish, Parched and more.
Sumeet, however, claims he never expected to hit the jackpot in front of camera as he was content doing theatre. “I didn’t think people would consider me for camera. Also, I was happy doing stage,” he said.
So how did he stumble upon his first acting gig? Here’s what Sumeet shared:
What was your first acting project? How did the project come to you?
The first time I faced the camera was for a Doordarshan show, back in 2004-2005. It was called Woh Hue Na Hamare. I must’ve been 22 or 23 years old, in my final year of college. I was doing theatre and someone had come to watch my play. They were making a TV show. I was not even actively auditioning for anything, at that time. I was just doing theatre. So, they called me and told me it was sort of the lead part. Actor Arun Govil was playing my father in the show. It was a family drama. I said yes instantly because I had never faced the camera. They were offering me Rs 4,000 for a day’s work. That time, it meant a lot to me, and it would make me a rich theatre person. They did audition me and told me then and there that I was onboard.
My character was of a nice guy. He was the young son of the family, who will run the business. My father’s brother was the villain. He was trying to take over the business and make us go bankrupt of sorts. The show ran for two years. I did not expect it to go on for this long because initially I did not see much of a story that could last for that long. But it was the time of such TV shows and hence I was happy that it managed to have a good run. Chandar Behl from FTII was directing the show. It was a weekly.
What do you remember of your first day on set?
First day of shoot was at one of the bungalows in Bhullar Garden in Madh Island. That was shown as our house in the show. But my first day wasn’t actually a good day because I had no experience of camera. I was constantly getting out of frame. I didn’t know how to take light. And our director was this old school director, so he had planned long takes. It would start from me coming into the frame, then the camera moving on the trolley and then taking other actors. So everyone needed to hit the mark correctly. I wasn’t very good at that.
Were you nervous? How many retakes did you take?
The director scolded me a lot on my first day. Even I got very nervous. Though we did not take many retakes. We managed somehow. It wasn’t that I forgot my lines. It was just that I wasn’t properly able to catch the light and camera. I was poor technically. So the director was unhappy with me initially. But as and when I kept learning and improving, I eventually became his favourite person on the set. He was very supportive. He used to let me go quietly after I finished my shot.
This show was my informal training for camera. I learned so much under this very senior director who was from an institute. He was technically very sound, helped me get my basics clear and taught how to use them to my advantage. You can say my schooling for acting was going on at two levels that time – theatre and this TV show, where I learnt the technical aspects. It was like a learning ground for me. It wasn’t like a full time commitment. I would shoot for 8-10 days a month and then I had enough time to do theatre as well. I remember I had requested them to adjust some dates because of my college final year exams. So, I treated it more like a job.
The show lasted for a long time, so much, that my character aged, got married and even had kids. They put an artificial French beard on me after a year to make me look like a father. That time I didn’t think much about my character. I was just glad that my role grew and I became a man from a boy in the show. I was happy to play an aged character.
How was the rapport with your co-stars when you got to meet or work with them again later?
There was Arun Govil. Then there was Damini Shetty who played my mother and Nattasha Singh played my sister. I haven’t met many of them after that. I only bumped into Damini Shetty at a cafe recently. She’s still an active writer. She has been following my work. So, it was lovely meeting her.
If given a chance to go back to your debut role, what would you like to change or do better?
There wasn’t much scope to do anything else. It wasn’t like a very dramatic character. But I would definitely want to change the trajectory of my career, maybe tell my 22-year-old self to be a little more focused and have some sort of plan in life, which I didn’t at that time. I didn’t think this whole camera business would work out for me. I thought I’d be doing theatre most of my life, which I did actually. Till 2012-2013 I was actively doing theatre.
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One film or role that inspired you to become an actor?
There were many films. I wasn’t particularly an Amitabh Bachchan fan, but I was a die-hard Agneepath fan. I became a Bachchan fan much after I became an actor, when I saw a lot of his work. The old Agneepath had a massive impact on me. I saw it as a kid and it did something to me. The visual of Amitabh Bachchan running through fire before dying in the end justified with the lines “Lathpath Agneepath…” I wanted to be the guy who ran through the fire to save his family. I used to say that one day I would run through the fire too (laughs).
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