When did the acting bug bite you?
I had a flair for story-telling and being the youngest kid in my family, my craving for attention was nurtured right from childhood. My parents expected me to take up medicine as I was good in Biology. That is when I freaked out and convinced my parents to let me go to drama school at Pune University. Later, I took up stage-designing at National School of Drama for post-graduation. I never really saw myself as an actor until Prashant Nair, the director of Delhi in a Day, approached me for an audition and that is how the first film happened.
How difficult was your transition from theatre to cinema?
Film as a medium is much more technical than theatre. It demands a great deal of professionalism. Besides, you might not always forge the same kind of camaraderie at film sets as you do while rehearsing a play. In cinema, one is mostly on his own. Some people might not like the idea of giving ten takes for one shot. In With You, Without You, for instance, every movement had to be precise. I was trained to understand various cinematic techniques, especially that of the renowned French filmmaker, Robert Bresson. For a person like me, who came from a background that believed in improvisation, this transition was enduring.
After Chakravyuh, what do you think differentiates commercial and parallel cinema?
I think the line between commercial and parallel cinema is slowly dissolving. Given the kind of scope that scripts are offering, I am lucky to be a part of the industry at this significant time. Of course, there will be a Holiday or Hamshakals coming in once in a while. You can’t help it because people need it. But there will also be a City Lights and Filmistaan on the other side of the spectrum. People did go to watch these films and they too did pretty well at the box office.
You had talked about your ‘leftist leanings’ in an earlier interview. Does your politics affect your choice of films?
You know, it is easy to be a rebel when you do not have responsibilities. I wouldn’t call myself a ‘leftist’ but I would say that I try to follow a minimalist approach to life. However, I cannot deny that luxury is a vital part of my profession. In most of my films, I have played roles that involve struggle with the society or the self. However, I do look forward to playing more fun-loving, carefree characters in the future.