It's a good time for model-turned-actor Vikram Malhan who makes his acting debut with a short film, 'The Good Gun.' As the lead in a war drama about a soulful interaction between an Indian and a Pakistani Airforce pilot, Vikram says that he chose the film because it makes a meaningful statement and is a part of the kind of cinema that he believes in.
The Delhi boy is trying to make it big in Mumbai without any industry connections and that comes with its own trials and tribulations. LetsOTT caught up with him to chat about his lead role in Ashwin Mani's film and his hopes from the future.
You started your career as a model. What made you take it up and then transition to acting?
I had been watching the Mr. India pageant and shared the desire to participate in it, with my family. When I participated the following year, I did not win but I did win a lot of subtitles. Eventually, I started looking for gigs and landed some commercials, that's how modelling happened. Over a period of time, I started evaluating how I wanted to grow in my career, and I felt that I had the potential and the passion to make it as an actor.
What made you sign up for 'The Good Gun'?
I went for an audition that was adjudged by the director Ashwin Mani, and he assessed my look and thought that I fit the role. When the script for 'The Good Gun' came to me, I saw that there was room to explore my acting capabilities and even show off my talent with a big monologue. But I realized that it wouldn't be easy either.
The three days of shoot were the most gruelling with intense fight sequences that were shot in the most adverse weather conditions. We even choreographed our own fight scenes. I had my lines set for me but they weren't rehearsed in a cushy set-up, it was being done in real-time and that's why I feel that the director has been able to explore emotion in the rawest sense. The underlying meaning behind the lines explore the tense political history between India and Pakistan, and I've tried to channel my emotions in that context.
This was your first acting job. Was it an easy one to adapt to?
I was totally nervous. I play an army officer and just the length and preciseness of the dialogues would scare me. I also had to adapt to the body language and the tone of my voice so a lot of effort went into doing it all. For the three days of the shoot, I was totally into character and I detached myself from my surroundings completely, so that everyone around me believed as the character as much as I did. We practised in the mud and the rain for the fight sequences and had scratches and bruises by the time it ended.
It sounds like you went quite a method for this role. Is this a school of acting you prescribe to?
I'm just a beginner but I prefer keeping things natural. There is no definition to acting and I would just like to build my own style as I go along instead of copying anyone or prescribing to a method.
What are your hopes when it comes to your career?
I hope people like the film because it really intends to make an important statement about politics, war, and empathy. I want them to appreciate my work because that will really help me get good work.
Is there anything specific that you want to try?
I'm an outsider, not from the industry. I don't live in a bubble where I have the world on a platter. I have limited options. My main motivation is to do meaningful content where I can grow as a performer.
There is a misconception that models can't act, although that is diminishing slowly. You have made a transition from modelling to acting. Have you ever experienced a situation where it has gone against you? What do you feel about this belief?
This happens quite often at auditions where they have little faith in your talent when you mention the modelling background. The next question is almost always if you're from a drama school or have any training in acting. The misconception has changed slowly thanks to the great actors who are also models. So hopefully I will see less of this trend as time goes by.
As an outsider to the industry and even new to Mumbai, what has been your biggest learning experience?
Mumbai teaches you a lot. It reminds you of your support system because of its apathetic nature. And when you're trying your best to make it, you can also face a lot of disappointments. It makes the time with your family seem more valuable. On the flip side, when you start doing well, avenues do start opening up and people do reach out. But overall, it is an individual journey. I have learned how to be independent.
Has your family been supportive of your career choice?
Yes, supremely. That's how I've managed to make it this far. Occasionally, however, they enquire if I still have faith in my capabilities and whether I would be able to make it without any godfather. Thankfully, I have a very strong sense of self and I wouldn't compromise with my morals to make it here. I have chosen a difficult path.
Any offers coming your way at the moment?
The pandemic and weather have really affected work, and it's unfortunate that I'm not in the city. Hopefully, whenever the situation gets better and restrictions get lifted, work will start pouring in. The most important thing right now is the world's safety. I think it's okay if we're at home for a while.
How are you spending your free time?
Most of my time is spent at home with my family. Obviously, this is a difficult time and it's really dangerous to step out so I'm making the best of the situation. I never used to read a lot so I'm trying to explore more literature. And I'm really looking forward to IPL because I'm a huge cricket fan.