From playing a crime lord in hit Netflix film Extraction to the wildly popular Robin in Amazon Prime Video’s Mirzapur 2, Priyanshu Painyuli had quite an exciting 2020. The actor, who recently got hitched to long-time girlfriend Vandana Joshi, says, “I’m ending the year on a good note.”
In this exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, Priyanshu talks about receiving fulsome praise and love from the audience in 2020, life with wife Vandana, his upcoming projects and more.
Excerpts from the conversation:
How was 2020 for you?
The year has been very different, both personally and professionally. It was a year of mixed emotions. There were releases and then there was a pandemic which made you wonder what the future has in store. However, people have largely survived it and have taken it in a good way. The year was more of a roller-coaster ride for me.
You played characters which were poles apart in Extraction and Mirzapur 2. Your thoughts.
One of the biggest takeaways from the year was being part of two massive releases on two OTT platforms. And both characters so drastically different that when people saw Robin (in Mirzapur 2), they asked if he was the same guy who played Amir Asif (in Extraction). Both these projects were shot last year. I knew they were interesting roles which will enable me to showcase my versatility as an actor. The best part was that viewers recognise me more for the characters I played.
I remember after Bhavesh Joshi, I was approached for activist-type roles. I think none of the actors today want to be stereotyped. I was lucky to be part of a Hollywood project (Extraction) this early in my career. Post Extraction, I got congratulatory messages from Spanish and Brazilian people. I think they literally took me as Pablo Escobar of Dhaka (laughs). Before entering the massive world of Mirzapur, I was a huge fan. Now, I’m seeing the craziness around it personally. Before this, all my projects got critical acclaim. However, I did not anticipate this kind of popularity.
How did you react to the curiosity around Robin and his mother?
People using ‘yeh bhi theek hai’ as the motto of 2020 was amazing. I never thought it will become such a hit with fans. A colourful character like Robin wasn’t expected in the dark world of Mirzapur. And, I loved how he brought his ‘mummy’ angle into everything. The secret about Robin’s mummy will be unveiled in Season 3, hopefully.
I too am very excited to know where Robin goes from here. The writers are still fleshing out Mirzapur 3. Hopefully. we’ll start shooting next year so that we can bring it to the audience at the earliest.
“Yeh bhi theek hai” was your improvisation. Tell us more.
Robin is a well-written character, but I felt he needed a catchphrase because he is also mysterious. Many years ago, I went river rafting with my friends. There was an uncle who looked after our camping. He used to say this phrase with a pause, which was very interesting. I said let’s try using it for one scene. It worked, and I thought it would be even better if the words were spoken in different emotions.
You also started work on Rashmi Rocket, in which you play an Army man. How was it returning to the sets?
It was scary in the beginning, but when we saw the lengths to which the makers had gone to put us in a bubble, we felt fine. I’ll be seen wearing different kinds of uniforms. That’s also very special because I think I’m looking like my dad when he was an officer in the 1970s. Here, I’m more of an athlete and an Army guy, but of course, we are showing the unit and everything. I’m very excited how it has turned out.
What change did 2020 bring in you?
Not just me, a lot of us realised a lot of things. We learned to value our families, relationships and our own selves a lot more. The sudden break which coronavirus gave was a reset button. Now, you have a fresh perspective on life and a clearer approach.
You tied the knot with Vandana recently. Do you see your life changing now?
Not really as both of us have been together for so many years. We had our roka a few years back. We had already planned a 2020 wedding. It just kept shifting, but both us and our families wanted to take this step. So, we thought we should just do it. Definitely, our personal and professional lives will have to be more balanced now.
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Tell me more about how the two of you met and who proposed first?
I proposed. We met in 2013 as actors for Taj Express by Vaibhavi Merchant. It was a Bollywood Broadway kind of a show directed by Shruti Merchant. We did some 120 shows across the world. We became friends and have been together ever since. We both love travelling, and we want to do more of that.
How does 2021 look like on the work front? What can fans expect from you?
I just hope to grow as an actor. I’ve some good releases in 2021. I’ll be shooting for these projects over the next six months. I am getting more calls for interesting projects. I’d definitely want to act more, travel more and spend more time with Vandana.
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