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Always An All-Rounder

TV, film and now digital personality, Karan Wahi, talks to Ananya Swaroop about his upcoming Hungama show, Bar Code

The show looks really interesting. What attracted you to it?

I said ‘yes’ when I heard the script for the first time. Abhishek Pathak, the producer of this series, is a very good friend of mine and, one day, he called me and asked me to meet him. I did and he said he wanted me to meet his director for the series, which he had mentioned he was working on earlier.

I met the director, Vignesh Shetty, who narrated the concept to me. He was trying to convince me to come on board but, honestly, I did not like it at first. He showed me references of songs like Closer and I was still not sure about it.  Then, I thought that if we achieve 50 per cent of what we set out to achieve it would still be a success because no one had done anything like this in Indian cinema before. He asked me if I wanted to do it and I was confused. He added that he liked that I had come to meet him, dressed casually, and this was exactly the kind of person they were looking for.

Without any hesitation, I said ‘yes’. I am glad Vignesh has achieved 90 per cent of what he wanted to show. When we saw the product, we knew that the audience would love it.

What prep did you do to get into the role of a club owner?

That’s the best thing about the web world. You get time! I have a television background that does not give you time to prep for your character. Still, I could not prep very much for this character.  I have a lot of friends who are club owners but no one really tells you what happens behind the scenes. So you cannot prep for a character like this until you own a club yourself!

But Vignesh was very adamant on doing the scenes until he got the perfect shot, and that’s what makes it look authentic on screen. Because it was shot at intervals, I was multi-tasking with other work as well, due to which I was overworked. And this helped me get into my brash character a lot. I was so edgy that it worked for my character. There wasn’t any major prep for the character because I didn’t really have to change my look and I already had the lingo of a desi Delhi boy. It was easy for me because I knew how to play this character as it is very close to how I am in real life.

How has the association with Hungama been?

I hope they love us. It’s a great platform. This is the third Original they have made and the previous two series, including Damage, were equally amazing. Hungama is not making content for the sake of making it. They are putting in money, they are putting in time and they are choosing scripts wisely. They are not merely building a bank.

What was the dynamic on set during the shoot? What was the vibe on the set?

Akshay (Oberoi) and I didn’t have very many scenes together. I think there are 10 episodes and we have only three scenes together.  But I still saw all the episodes and his work is amazing. He is loved for his work and is known for his acting skills. When you are working with someone like him, you are always on your toes. You want to actually outperform for yourself and for the series.

We didn’t spend too much time together, which I think helped us to keep up the mystery between the two of us on the screen. I have known Simran (Kaur Mundi) and Parina (Chopra) from before and they did amazingly well too. I have realised that you have to bring together different people, who bring the best of themselves to the table, to make something really big. Just one person cannot drive a show. A web series is not a character-driven arena and my cast was amazing.

You have worked in films, TV serials and now the web world as well. What is your favourite platform?

There is no such thing as favourites. I am an actor and an anchor and I will do my best regardless of where you put me. All I care about is that I enjoy my work. Television will always come first because it has given me everything that I have right now. The main reason to work on different platforms is because it is so competitive today you don’t want to say ‘no’ to things that come your way.

Also, when I took a break from television, I asked myself what could I do that would make me happy every day of my life. When nobody was really working in the web space three years ago, I did. I don’t care about money but about what I like doing and finding contentment in it. Good content also matters to me. I’ve always believed that working will give me more work. Today, I am the same actor I used to be but with better opportunities and experience. I have been lucky that I have survived 14 years and I am happy where I am right now.

You started as a cricketer and then moved on to acting. How has your experience been to date?

Everyone wants to become a cricketer and it was the same for me. I used to play cricket in school to get away from studies. I would engage in all sorts of extracurricular activities to get away. And because my mother was the vice-principal of the school, I had the perfect excuse to not perform well academically – I was busy with either painting, acting, dancing or something or the other.

Then, I got into cricket and even decided to play for the under-18 team. I went for my trials but something stupid happened and I decided not to go for them. I told my father that I want to join his business.  I went to college, I came back, I joined my dad‘s business but all he got from me was long food bills and no output. My father then told me that I should not waste time.

During this time, I got my pictures clicked. Srishti and Goldie Behl came across these pictures since I had a good physique. They called me for an audition and I was among 200 men who auditioned. Luckily, I was selected. That’s how I bagged my first role and came to Mumbai.

I gave that audition on June 13, 2004 and came to Bombay on June 30, 2004 and never went back.

What’s next for you?

I am doing a web show with ALTBalaji. It is probably the funniest character I have ever done. It will be one of the most wanted characters you would want to watch. My look in the show is unreal but I can’t say any more. I am also working on a travel show which will be shot in the mountains and I will soon start that shoot. 

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