Tell us in detail about ABRC. What was the process like considering it's your debut show!
Raj sir and Aman called me to the office and narrated this story. It was such a fascinating premise that it got me excited. And not just that, Raj sir spoke with such zeal and enthusiasm that anyone would get infected by his energy. I auditioned 5 times before they could finally lock me. And once I was on board, I just gave it my all. I’ve been training myself on stage for a few years and it was time I used all that learning and discipline on screen too. Keeping the basics of preparing the same, I went ahead creating a unique Siddhant in a world of such diverse characters. Making sure that Siddhant remains a very likeable character along with being able to hold his own throughout. I am glad that people have loved Siddhant Rastogi. I’ll only get better from here.
If not Siddhant, which other character from 'ABRC' would you have liked to play and why?
Another character I find fascinating is Radha. I’d love to play someone as fiery and hot-headed as her. There’s a lot of internalised anger in there and I love that mysterious quality about her. To a point, funnily enough, where I even find her attractive.
How do you reflect on your journey so far and going forward, what is it that you would look for in a script or role? Also, what would be your dream role?
There’ve been so many ups and downs in my journey so far but I absolutely love it because they’ve made me stronger in every sense. These experiences are gold dust and I wouldn’t trade it for an easy path.
Going forward, I want to keep associating myself with stories that are told with a lot of heart. Stories told courageously, boldly, and written with limitless possibilities. Vicky Kaushal in Sardar Udham left me in awe of Uddam’s grit and determination. Would love to play someone as complex as him.
How did the acting bug bite you? What did your struggle period look like? Was there any ‘Plan B’ if the things would not have fallen in place?
My first play was Bishop’s Candlesticks in my 9th grade. I’m not kidding but something happened there. The feeling of performing and touching people’s lives got stuck somewhere in the subconscious. That came to the fore again when I was going to the theatre in college and that never left me!
During the times I wasn’t getting regular work on screen in Mumbai, I was fortunate to have immersed myself in theatre. It kept me motivated and in love with my craft which is so important if you want to keep going on! What breaks you more than being broke is the lack of love for your craft anymore. That never happened and that’s why I got this show.
Plan B was never an option for me. I burned the boats for any other plan long back so that I had no option but to succeed in this.
How do you invest yourself in preparing for any role?
The discipline I’ve imbibed from the stage will forever be with me. I carry that over to the screen. I don’t believe there’s anything like over rehearsing, a term I hear quite commonly these days. I read the script over and over again to get exactly what story we’re telling to the audience. And then eventually finding how my character takes the story forward. With every rehearsal, one can see how a scene could have a different impact with different choices and variations. I build my character while I rehearse for scenes, either alone or with my co-actor. Having said that, once you do all that work, you just have to listen to the scene and let your impulses take over.
Theatre or screenplay, which is closer to your heart and why?
You’d expect me to say theatre because that’s where I’ve done most of my work but there’s something about storytelling through a camera that really gets me hooked. I watch movies and I get transported into the world like no other. Every frame has the potential to tell a story and I can’t help but give my heart to screen then and there.
What are your upcoming projects in the pipeline? Have you signed up with other OTT platforms?
I haven’t signed anything yet. I have a rule where I don’t mention projects until they are concrete. Mumbai taught me that. So you can say there’s nothing in the pipeline on screen. On stage, there are upcoming shows of two of my favourite plays - Catch 22 and Fistful of Rupees.
I hope the next time we talk, I have projects with Zoya Akhtar and Hansal Mehta. I’ll break my rules and shout out my projects to you from the top of my lungs.