How would you define your journey from television to the film industry?
There are many people who want to be actors but don’t know where to start but I was lucky. When I arrived in Mumbai, I got to meet late Yash Chopra and I still remember what he told me. He said, ‘Gurmeet, everyone wants to be an actor, which is very difficult. Why should people watch you? Why should they invest in you? For that to happen, you have to prove yourself and television is a great medium to start your career. When people start loving you and want to see more of you, then automatically you will be offered a film script. Shah Rukh Khan is the biggest and the best example. He started his career with television and then moved to films, and now he is a superstar.’
He mentioned this to me twice or thrice in the course of time and I took his advice to heart. I sincerely went into television and kept doing television shows. All my television shows were hits and I have won many reality shows as well. People loved my shows. Then Bhatt saab (Mahesh Bhatt) gave me a huge break in Khamoshiyan.
Overall, my entire journey has been amazing. I would say I was very lucky and didn’t have to chase films. I became so famous on television that I eventually got film offers. That’s how, from millions of people, I was lucky to have my dream come true.
What made you sign Laali Ki Shaadi Mein Laaddoo Deewana?
I have a very specific audience, who wants to see me more but can’t do that with their families because of the type of films I have done. For instance, Khamoshiyan and Wajah Tum Ho were erotic thrillers. So when I heard the script of Laali Ki Shaadi Mein Laaddoo Deewana, I liked it and I said ‘yes’.
The character I play in this film is similar to the ones I have been playing for the last 8-9 years on television. He is a modern Prince caught in a love triangle with Akshara Haasan and Vivaan Shah. The subject of this film is teen pregnancy, which is a serious issue in India and it is treated very differently here, with a dash of humour. That was one reason to do this film. Also, I was looking forward to working with director Manish Harishankar.
How did you prepare for your role?
Ever since I did Ramayan on television, I made it a habit to do my homework, like how to deliver my lines, or how to build my character. I played a lawyer in Wajah Tum Ho, and at the time, I researched everything about lawyers. In this film I played the role of prince and, as part of my homework, I watched every Salman Khan film where he plays Prem. I have borrowed a lot from him even for television. In fact, people would often say, ‘Yeh Salman Khan hai chote screen ka.’
What is the USP of this film, and what would you say is special about your character?
The USP of this film is the story, and what is special about my character is that he is extremely supportive. When no one is prepared to marry a pregnant girl, he d decides to marry her. In our conservative society, I think it is very difficult for anyone to agree to marry a girl who is pregnant. You don’t often come across characters like these and that is special about my character.
Coming from the television industry, were you ever treated as an outsider in the film industry?
No, I was never treated like that as I was launched by Bhatt saab. But, sure, it is very hard to get into films and find roles you want to do. I am a good dancer and a romantic actor, and now I am gradually getting roles like these.
Who would you give credit to for your success?
My wife. We got married when we were very young, at the age of 17-18. I was a nobody when I married Debina (Debina Bonnerjee). Not many girls marry guys who have no idea about their future, and that touched me. I always wanted to be a star, and this became Debina’s dream too. She has always stood by me in good times and in bad, and continues to do so. Whenever I’m stressed, depressed or emotionally drained, she holds my hand and takes care of me. On the flipside, when I get very excited and forget to be grounded, Debina tells me, ‘Gurmeet tu zyada udd raha hai toh thoda grounded hoja.’ I would have not achieved what I have without her.
Name that one role you still want to do, if it is offered to you again?
Maan Singh Khurana from Geet (television show). That is one character I want to play again. This character has also given me a big fan following.