After making inroads into the industry through films, Tanuj Virwani has taken a smart shift towards many web series and shows that have picked up huge popularity over the course of time. After breaking his way into the OTT scene with the much-talked-about Amazon Original Inside Edge, Tanuj became a part of many other shows that gained good traction and has also signed up for some exciting content that is in the pipeline. Speaking to LetsOTT, the actor tells us more about his road so far.
After starting off with 3 films, you changed lanes towards OTT platforms. Was it a conscious decision?
I know it does seem like that to many, but trust me, my first goal and plan was to become a film actor alone. I always believed that nothing can replicate the big screen experience. However, my first three films didn’t work out the way I wanted them to, and it was increasingly difficult to land projects for me. And that’s when Inside Edge happened. I auditioned for my part and got in. Looking at it now, Inside Edge is the show that gave me the much-needed ‘street credit’, after which I was able to take off in my career and capitalize on the web-series space which is very popular right now.
Inside Edge was one of the very first Indian original shows to come onto OTT. How was your mindset and the experience of signing up for something like this, at a time when such platforms were not very popular?
Right after my auditions, I started seeking advice from fellow peers and members of the film fraternity, on how it would be when I go forward with such a role in my career. A lot of people discouraged me and asked me not to do it, saying that I would become a television actor and never be able to get back what I initially came for. But inside me, something told me that it was a brave new decision to make.
Even today, the plan is to maintain a duality in my career, with films and web series. But I am just happy that I was able to get into it at the ground floor and was one of the first to get there. We have seen many shows and series in the past, but until Inside Edge, we never got anything that was mounted on such a big scale, with so many characters.
How did you start to react to the whole OTT shift?
The reach was actually epic. When it comes to a film, there are a lot of factors riding on it, such as the Friday release, the number of screens that you can get, the places where it has released and so on. But with an OTT platform that is available in so many countries, there’s no limit on the amount of audience who will get to see you, and the love that you get from different people around the globe. I was no longer dependent on the opening weekends and other such factors. Inside Edge too, was a sleeper hit that gained momentum over a period of time. However, it has a great recall value amidst the audience now.
Your own family members have been a part of the industry at different times. How were your conversations over the decisions you make?
There is a difference of 3 generations here, but I am happy to see the changes that the industry has undertaken over the whole period of time. The acting styles have changed, the writing process is different and so on. In OTT platforms, one does not have to think about a set protagonist, antagonist, interval block, songs etc, as there is room for multiple characters and a really deep story. And now, social media plays such a huge role that the fan following an actor gets is also proportional to his image on social media and the statements that he makes.
Let’s talk about your upcoming projects. There’s Kamathipura, which is very unique because of the space that it is set in.
Oh yes. Kamathipura was a very liberating experience for me, even though I shot for only eight days. It is the first time that I am playing a negative role. We shot in Ahmedabad, as we could not shoot in the exact titular location, however – the place that the shoot took place in resembles Kamathipura so much. I also have the experience of shooting at a house where people actually reside in. We used to shoot from 9 am to 9 pm and then handover the keys to the tenants who used to take over for the night. Coming back to shoot in the morning, it was a different feeling to see things like leftover food and realize that there were people actually living there.
There’s also Katil, which seems to be an interesting show.
While Kamathipura is something that is done on a smaller scale with more of guerilla shooting methods, Katil is a big and ambitious show that is being carried out. I am very excited to be a part of it.
You have a special cameo in Netflix’s upcoming show, Masaba Masaba. What’s it about?
Masaba Masaba is a really cool show, coming with a colourful and fun-filled vibe when content on OTT platforms is mostly dark and grim. I shot for a small period of just six hours for my cameo, but I can vouch that the show will definitely be interesting. It’s not always that you see something based on a real-life character, played by themselves.
What are the other shows that you are a part of?
There’s also the second season of Code M, which is in the works. The first season was more of a setup, the second is the real deal where there is a lot of world-building as we go deeper into the story.
I also have two shows which are about to take off with the shoot in Dubai. The first is 7thSense, a whodunit which has Madhavan playing the lead. I am a big fan of the actor, who I feel is one of the best that we have in our country. I will also be simultaneously shooting for another show titled Line of Fire, which has Prakash Raj and Jimmy Shergill in the cast. It’s an intriguing political thriller. The crews of both the shows have already set out to the UAE for the preparatory work, and we too will be flying out soon. But as you know, the process is not easy, our producers are doing their best.
It is indeed a great phase to be a part of these many shows, all at once. Tanuj sees it as an opportunity to challenge himself time and again, and we wish him the best and hope to see the projects get rolling and hit our screens at the earliest!