Tell us how you bagged your role in Bholaa.
The character that I am playing as Deep Singh has a major role in taking the storyline forward with his perspective. This cop is greedy and most of the time, I will be seen individually on the screen. Actually, when I got the opportunity to work with Ajay sir in Runway 34, I had a small role and I did not know whether I will be able to work with him again or not. But thanks to that role, Ajay sir remembered and called me for Bholaa. That one scene with Amit ji (Amitabh Bachchan) helped me bag the project.
How would you describe Ajay Devgn as a director?
As a director, Ajay has a very calm and easy-going personality. He knows what he is doing. And the most important aspect about him is that he gives you complete freedom to approach and perform the character as you perceive it. Even if there’s any mistakes, he gives his inputs to make it better. There is always a calmness on the sets. He even says sorry to actors if there’s any kind of delay for the shoot. It was an amazing experience and I would really love to work with him again.
How different is Karan Johar’s directorial style from that of Ajay Devgn’s?
I have a comedy scene with Ranveer Singh in Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani. I hope it makes it to the final cut. Karan sir also said that it’s a very funny scene. Just like Ajay sir, Karan sir also gives you artistic freedom to perform your role at your will. Sometimes, he himself performs the scene and shows you how to do it. He will tell you how you are supposed to approach the character, which makes it quite easy. He is also very cool and calm on the sets.
Tell us about your acting journey.
I hail from Delhi and I had started doing theatre around 1998. Initially, I was into dancing and then I shifted to acting and then I did my first serial School Days for Doordarshan in 1999. Since I am the eldest son in my family, I had to stay back in Delhi to look after my family business. But unfortunately in 2015, I suffered huge losses. I was in depression and had even consulted a psychiatrist because I could not figure what to do. I was jobless. My wife supported me a lot emotionally and encouraged me to follow what I am good at. She is my backbone and she also started working to support the family financially. Then I took up acting again and started from the bottom, gave multiple auditions and did a few commercials. In 2018, I got a call from Yash Raj Films for Sui Dhaaga and fortunately the film was a hit. It became the turning point in my career. Now, I am also a part of YRF’s first web series The Railway Man. Then, I have another series called Tarla where Huma Qureshi is playing Tarla Dalal.
Was it tough to start all over again?
Initially, I did not have a choice but to take up any work that I was getting. But slowly and steadily, I realised that I need to move ahead at my own pace. People were seeing me only in comic roles but thanks to Farzi, I got a negative character to portray on the screen, which was praised by a lot of people in the industry. I also got a chance to showcase my talent in Dharavi Bank where I have a full episode based on my character named Amey Tripathi. I really enjoyed working with Suniel Shetty. I remember when we were doing rehearsals, Suniel sir kept his hand over my head and told the director, ‘Kaha se lekar aaya hai isse, bohot acha kiya isne.’ It was a surreal moment for me.
You have an interesting memory with Govinda. Can you please share it?
Govinda has been my idol. I really admire him a lot. When I first met him outside his vanity van after being introduced by my cousin who knew him, I just fell down at his feet. It was an emotional moment for me. Then he invited me into his vanity van, introduced me to his son and we chatted a lot.
What advice would you like to give to outsiders?
I did not know anyone in the industry. I was clueless. I did not know where to start, whom to meet. It was really very difficult. For those who want to enter into the industry, I believe that you have to have a life in your craft. You will have to remain calm, slowly understand things and how the industry functions, you should be able to recognise good people and show something unique in your performance. Yes, there’s a lot of struggle, it will take time to reach where you want to. There’s no shortcut for outsiders in the industry. If you’re well-focused, confident and believe in yourself, you will eventually get work after another.