As Raktanchal gets renewed for a sequel, ETimes got in touch with the actor, who opened up about his journey, challenges, and surviving in a space full of uncertainty. Excerpts:
From biopics to action films, you have portrayed characters with a lot of finesse. What are the kind of roles you want to experiment more with?
The Almighty has been very kind and I am grateful for that. I have tried to put my mind, body, and soul in every character that I have played so far. And with the same zeal, I am looking forward to more roles coming my way, which will help me explore more in terms of performance, space, and through which I can learn more about myself too. I always think about what can I contribute to make it memorable for me as well as the audience. Frankly, I love characters that challenge me and help me to create something to give back to society through my art.
What kind of challenges do you still face?
‘Sangharsh kab tak-Jeevan jab tak‘, these lines by the late poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan, sum it up perfectly. I believe challenges are never going to go away, and I have accepted that with a smile. One needs to always keep a balance between waiting and working.
What has been the biggest takeaway from your journey in showbiz?
Patience Patience Patience, discipline, and never losing hope.
Do you think you have become a lot more visible due to the popularity of OTT platforms?
Yes, indeed! It took a web platform to give me a strong role like that of Vijay Singh. Earlier, too, I was doing some really good work, but the kind of role which I wanted was missing. The dynamics of the web are different. One can bet on one’s talent here. One such story is ‘Raktanchal’, which has become one of the most viewed shows on OTT last year. I am grateful to MX Player, Ritam Shrivastav, and Shashank Rai for their trust in my art. And yes, as you rightly said, I am more visible now because of the web platform.
What has been the biggest challenge or an obstacle you have faced and overcome? How did you handle yourself mentally at the time?
It is said that an actor is always in waiting. Be it between projects, between shots, an actor always has to wait. For me, that period from waiting to working has been a great lesson. Though it’s been a rollercoaster ride with its ups and downs, the process and my discipline have been great saviors. It really makes me mentally tough, no matter what is happening outside. And I guess this is what matters–life will keep changing outside, it’s the inside that should be taken care of. I just try to do that with my discipline. Yoga really helps me keep my mind, body, and soul in sync.
With challenges, there are moments where we tend to feel negative…
Inherently, our wiring is such that the first thing which comes to our mind is that this seems impossible. But then you process the thought and try to be positive. Depression is a fact, not fiction, and we have to take it very seriously.
Did you also go through something similar?
I have had my share of highs and lows. But during my lows, I have tried my best to stay connected to my roots as much as possible. I often visit my hometown and ancestral village, meet people there, be with my family and alienate myself from the thoughts that bother me. Yoga and meditation have also been great tools.
Who was your sounding board at the time?
I would say that I have been very fortunate to have a strong family support system. My mother, niece, my brother, nephews, family, and friends, have all really handled me with care during my tough times. Also, I am quite open and share everything with my family. I believe that one must always share one’s feelings with their family as they will always be by your side no matter what happens. Sharing with your friends is important too
Were you a victim of nepotism? Have there been moments or instances where you were replaced or denied a project that later featured an industry kid?
I might have faced nepotism after my screen tests but nothing directly. Nepotism has been there for ages and we can’t deny that. I totally believe that what is yours, will come to you, and what hasn’t come to you, was never yours. You can’t lose your peace of mind over someone else’s destiny. So, keep calm and do your karma.
Looking back, are you happy with the way things shaped up for you?
I am happy and my hunger has only increased day by day… I always believe that
kal tak yeh bhi nahi tha, to jo hai, vahi khushi hai
Was acting always your dream job?
Man proposes, God disposes! That’s what happened to me. As almost every student of Bihar wishes to become a bureaucrat one day, I was no different. I had a similar dream to become an IPS officer. My father was a bureaucrat in the education department and his dream became mine. But after failing in the first attempt, I decided to take a break and came down to Bombay to spend some time with my friends. There is a saying ‘
Gham galat karne aaya phir kabhi gaya nahi wapas‘ which means that I had come here to forget the exam failure but then destiny had planned something else for me and here I am. With every character, I am creating a dream, living a dream, and doing the job which I love the most.
Was your family supportive of your decision to be an actor?
As I mentioned earlier, when I couldn’t fulfill my parents’ dream of UPSC, they were disappointed and heartbroken, but gradually, they understood me and blessed me in my new endeavour. My father told me, “Whatever you have decided, reach the climax of success and never give up”
Since that day, every morning when I wake up, I remind myself about his saying and then only start my day. I wish my father was with me today to see his son realise his dreams. My mother always tells me that my father is watching me through her and I believe that.
During your initial days, how did you survive in Mumbai ?
Everyone has their story of survival and I, too, have mine. It’s your family and your true friends who keep you going and grounded. They believed in me when no one would; I am just grateful to everyone who were and are a part of my journey.
One thing you’d like to say to your younger self facing the camera for the first time?
Be more in the moment.
One thing which really inspires you about the industry?
Everyone’s at it every day, and the power of cinema, which changes lives.
If there’s one thing you want to change about Bollywood, what will it be?
The name should be ‘Hindi Film Industry’ rather than Bollywood and let’s try to be more compassionate towards each other.
One mantra that keeps you going in life…
Take care of yourself inside out and keep learning, exploring your craft with patience.