How was your experience of working in ‘Ray’?
It was fun. Maybe the retrospect was tough but I was having fun with it and experimenting; we did a lot of improvisation on the sets. It was exciting!
What made you want to make a career in acting?
I don’t think there was any defining moment as such. I just knew that I wanted to do it because I was doing it my whole life–in school, college, even as a baby–I was always performing, singing, imitating people. By the time I was out of college, I didn’t know anything better than acting.
How was it working in ‘Guilty’ with Kiara Advani?
It was lots of fun. It was definitely challenging because it was a tough character to portray and also, for your first film, when don’t have any experience whatsoever, it was a bit unnerving. But, our director was great. We had done so much prep work before the film, the atmosphere was great because all of us turned out to be very good friends. Being in a Netflix Original and a Dharma venture with a great director and great co-stars for your first film is a dream come true! I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
Bollywood’s business, like that of most others, took a hit during the lockdown…
I’m honestly one of those people who hopes against all hope. I’m a super positive person, so, I keep saying, ‘Listen, I do believe it’s gonna end soon’. I know there’s a third wave coming. But I don’t think this will last forever. Movies have to keep being made, actors have to keep getting signed. Films will release, people are always going to watch films. I think it’s only a matter of time before we all get vaccinated and then our shutters can be pulled up and running, and everything will go back to normal. One can just hope, right? We are all so clueless about what the future holds and that’s the scary part about Covid.
How much do you miss going to the theatres?
It’s everything, I miss it so much. I remember when theatres opened last year, I went for 3-4 films. So, yeah, we all are dying to run and just go watch something. So, hopefully soon.
Salman Khan’s ‘Bharat’ was released in some parts of the country where theatres were open. Do you feel that could be something which could be done?
A hundred per cent. Even I went to see ‘Indoo ki Jawani’ last year. It was released in a few theatres and people–ones vaccinated and comfortable–went for it. So, I think it’s on a person-to-person basis. I do believe that eventually, they will have to start opening up somewhere, maybe releasing in smaller locations, lesser theatres.
You and Alia Bhatt are close friends. When you started out in Bollywood, what kind of acting tips did you get from her?
No, I didn’t get any acting tips. Acting is very subjective. How one person acts is not how another person acts. There’s no way two actors will do one scene the same way. It’s a very relative thing so I don’t think taking tips, sharing notes is something actors usually do.
What do you have to say about her as a friend?
I think she’s great. She’s my best friend. Words aren’t enough.
What are your thoughts on the kind of roles she has been taking up…all of which sound really challenging?
I don’t have any thoughts. I’m proud of her. I’m always proud of the decisions she makes, and the role she picks. She has done great for herself so I know she’s making the right choices and yeah, she’s gonna keep thriving.
Can you be called a Bollywood buff?
No! I’m very bad at this. I don’t keep track. I have a friend who knows everything that’s happening in the industry, who’s signed where, who left which agency, who’s dating whom. I have no clue. I don’t follow any paps, I don’t follow any Bollywood gossip. I just feel it takes away from the focus if you’re busy concentrating on who signed what and who’s partying where.
How open are you to criticism when it comes to your role or the projects you choose?
As an actor, you don’t have any choice but to be open to it. It comes with good and bad, and of course, a lot of bad. I just take both with a pinch of salt, to be honest. If it’s constructive criticism then I’m always taking back feedback and think that I should work on this, and if it’s good then I’ll be happy and continue to work hard. You have to take everything with a pinch of salt otherwise it will drive you crazy.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on my next feature film from Netflix again. They should announce it soon. I’ve already started shooting and we’ve finished 20 days of the film. So yeah, that should release next year and I’m really excited about it.
What do you have to say about the films releasing on OTT platforms? Do you think theatres will lose out to digital in the long run?
I think theatres have their own place and no one can take that away. Even before the pandemic, there was a gradual shift towards digital. There are films that are made for cinemas and which will always be cinema films. And there are directors, there are scripts and there are actors who are made for theatre you know so some films are just made for cinema. So I don’t think it’ll take away from that. I don’t call it the way forward but I do believe, slowly but surely it’s going to be very well divided and I’m honestly really grateful that at least films are releasing. Because of OTT, there’s a way we can still watch films, and actors can release their work. So, I’m only grateful for OTT.
What kind of content attracts your attention?
I like dark cinema. So, I watch a lot of thrillers and documentaries and true crime stuff.
Were you skeptical before entering the entertainment industry given talks of nepotism?
Not really. I was not skeptical because I wanted it my whole life. So when it happened, for me it was just a dream come true. There was no time for bad negative thoughts. When it comes to favouritism, nepotism, I can’t help it. I mean if that was the case, I would have never got my debut at the age of 25. Girls get their debuts at the ages of 17-18. So, it is not like that but I don’t need to explain myself to anybody. I was just happy I got a break because I was working really really hard for it and it happened.
You share a good equation with Harsh Vardhan Kapoor and then you finally worked with him. How was the experience?
It was great. Actually, we weren’t close before ‘Ray’. We became friends on set. We knew each other but we never hung out. So it was great and we had lots of fun. My only scenes were with him so I was there for 3-4 days.
Aditya Seal in one of his interviews cracked jokes on you and claimed you were ‘thick buddies’. Would you like to work with him?
I’d love to. He’s a great actor. He’s doing amazing stuff now. So hopefully, someone is hearing this and signs us together.