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Earning His Break

Every year sees newcomers being launched in our Hindi film industry. Some are industry kids and some are not. The next few months will see Vicky Kaushal, famous action director Shyam Kaushal’s son in Masaan making his debut. Over to him:

On growing up

I have been a filmy fan since childhood but since my father (Shyam Kaushal) is an action director, I thought of becoming one too. But I enrolled in an engineering college and focused on studies. Still, I used to read the scripts of the films my father used to work on. I also used to discuss film plots with him because stories have always attracted me. It was during my engineering days that I realised I couldn’t do a 9-to-5 job.

On joining the industry

As a kid, you have many dreams and I was no different. But a visit to the sets of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi with my father changed my perception and helped me decide what I wanted to do. I had seen a shot by Shah Rukh Khan, it was an emotional scene and it affected me. That’s  when I decided to become an actor as I wanted to create the same emotional connect with the audience.

Being an industry kid

Everyone assumes it’s easy to be launched if you are an industry kid. That is not entirely correct as one has to earn one’s break. My father wanted me to become an engineer and settle in the US. When I told him that I wanted to become an actor, he clearly told me that there would be a lot of struggle and that there was no job security in this industry. He told me the pros and cons of being in the industry but said, that if I worked hard, I could succeed.

Started with assisting

I had visited many sets since childhood but only as a visitor. So I decided to assist someone so that I could learn the technicalities of filmmaking, and who better than Anurag Kashyap? He was starting Gangs Of Wasseypur and I joined him as an intern. Those four months were like schooling. After that, I did theatre and many workshops. I also met Neeraj Ghaywan on the sets of that film.

On bagging Masaan

After Gangs of Wasseypur, I stayed in touch with Neeraj. One day, we were travelling to Pune when he showed me rushes of Masaan. After a week, I got a call from our casting director Mukesh Chhabra, calling me for an audition. I was a little surprised but I gave the audition, among many other actors. Not for a moment did I assume that I would get a call from Neeraj, who eventually did call me to say that I had been chosen to play the lead. I knew he was planning to cast other actors but wasn’t getting their dates. That’s why he was looking for new faces. So , I never thought that he would cast me.

On preparing himself for the character

I had heard the story from Neeraj earlier. But when I was offered the role I read the script many times. I play a crematorium worker, who lights funeral pyres. The story is based in Banaras. So I went to Banaras and noticed people over there, understood their culture. Also, our director is very particular about the culture of the city. So I used to visit crematoria and talk to the people there and ask them about their lives. Then we came back to Mumbai and did our workshops. Things were not very difficult because our director was very clear about what he wanted.

On response at Cannes

None of the cast members had watched the film. Neeraj didn’t want us to watch it but when he told us it would be screened at Cannes, we were overjoyed. The Cannes screening was the first time we watched our film and I was taken aback by the standing ovation we received. What was more surprising was that the audience was not aware of the culture that we were showing but they still embraced it. Now we hope our Indian audience likes the film too.

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