How did you venture into theatre/ acting?
I enjoyed imitating others as a kid and also participated in skits at school but never thought of pursuing theatre as a career. I was preparing for IIT but later joined Zakir Husain Delhi College to study maths honours. Around this time I attended a Spic Macay workshop by famous playwright-actor Habib Tanvir and that sparked my interest in theatre. I went on to act in a few of his group productions which marked the beginning of my acting career. Now I run my own theatre company called Proscenium Productions.
What are the factors that guide you while accepting a role?
I give a nod to any role that is offered to me as long as the location of shoot is appealing. I am passionate about travel and start visualising the whole experience! As an afterthought, you always have the systematic analysis of the character you are playing, your contribution to the story and how convincing is the director while narrating the story.
Are you often creatively dissatisfied with your work? How do you overcome it?
Ninety percent of the time I am dissatisfied with what I’ve done. In those moments I turn to people in my personal and professional life whom I consider wiser than myself and know will provide me with the perspective and guidance to tide over that difficult phase.
Which performances on the silver screen have made a lasting impact on you?
Rehman’s character Chhote Sarkar in Guru Dutt’s Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam and Motilal’s Chunni Babu in Bimal Roy’s Devdas are two performances in Bollywood that make me want to push myself in order to perform better. I also admire Ryan Gosling’s role in Blue Valentine.
Is a sudden rush of fame and attention overwhelming?
My look on screen is so different from my usual appearance that people fail to recognise me: I have therefore not experienced this rush! On the contrary, if I stumble upon anyone discussing my performance in a movie theatre, I attempt to introduce myself but get snubbed!
How differently do you respond to theatre and cinema as an actor?
I firmly believe that the only way to be an actor is through theatre. The ease and nonchalance comes over time. As for the rest, nothing is easy and everything is difficult.