Vishal Malhotra, better known as the Disney host, found another connect with the youth when he made his acting debut as John in 90s cult show Hip Hip Hurray. While the show went on to become an integral part of the growing up years for 90s kids, Vishal’s John found a special liking because of being a happy-go-lucky boy. He was the funny one who had a crush on his school teacher and took the audience on his coming-of-age journey.
Vishal went on to be part of films like Ishq Vishk, Dor and Salaam-E-Ishq, but John finds a special mention among his fans.
So how did Vishal land his first acting project in Hip Hip Hurray, while he was still hosting Disney shows? Here’s what Vishal said.
1. How did Hip Hip Hurray come to you?
I was called in by UTV who were producing this show. I think I was approached for it, as I was hosting several Disney shows already. Probably that’s why they called me and asked me to read a little bit. I think they told me that they had already seen John inside me. They had also spoken to me about Rafey’s character. I think they had given me a choice between the two characters and John is what I went with.
I think Nupur (Asthana, director) was there in the room (during auditions), but nothing beyond that. Actually I don’t even remember auditioning for it to be honest with you. But for the sake of conversation, let’s say that I did audition. I do remember signing the contract.
2. What do you remember of your first day on set?
First day was at Wilson College, and it was a scene which was also the first scene of Hip Hip Hurray. It was the assembly scene where all of us were standing in a line and addressed by our principal and the teachers were standing on stage. Vinay Pathak was our English teacher. He was also the co-writer of the show.
3. Were you nervous? How many retakes did you take?
I wasn’t nervous at all. Somehow, something happens to me when I come in front of a camera. I lose all inhibitions and this has happened from day one. Though Hip Hip Hurray was scripted, but it did not have uncomfortable dialogues. This was so fresh, so colloquial, it was so there and now, it was so how I’m talking to you.
4. And who were your co-stars? How was the rapport with them when you got to meet or work with them again later?
Exactly how it is with old school friends. And I think that’s the best that I could achieve. I bonded really well with Sharukh (Cyrus), Purab (Mazhar) and Peeya (Kiran). We created a lot of new bonds and we still hold on to those bonds.
Nupur was like the headmistress. And especially Sharukh and me were like the difficult naughty boys who are made “murga” outside the class. She was like the mother figure. And I remember her being extremely emotional because whenever she was conducting a scene in front of the monitor, that was like another show was going on her face. She used to laugh, cry, there was no filter. Nobody tried to be heroic, no politics, really simple.
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?
Nothing. The purity of it, simplicity of it… If today I had to do it, I would’ve messed it up. Because I’m so aware now that this is how I should look and this is the angle which works well for me. These are all impurities which come into an actor.
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6. One film or role that inspired you to become an actor?
I never wanted to be an actor. I had an accidental career. And I started off with Disney. People came scouting from Walt Disney and somebody saw me in college and said, ‘Hey, would you come for an audition?’ And I said, ‘What is an audition?’ They said just come and talk in front of the camera.