Aashim Gulati first caught everyone's attention on the small tube with his show, Gulmohar Grand which aired on Star Plus. Prior to that, the charming guy had been a known face in the ad world. Now, he is all set to make his Bollywood debut with Anubhav Sinha's Tum Bin 2 where he is essaying one of the male romantic leads.
In a freewheel chat, Aashim reveals how the film came his way, his struggling days, why he doesn't want to be just a romantic hero and lots more.
Excerpts from the interview-
Q. Since Tum Bin 2 is a sequel, how easy or difficult was it for you to step into someone else's shoes and give it your own take?
A. First let me tell you that Tum Bin 2 is not a sequel. It's a franchise. Of course, it's not easy to do something for which a huge benchmark has already been set. It's a huge, cult film in its own way. We are new actors and there are lots of expectations from us. It's my first film so the expectation levels sky-rockets high.
But having said that, it's as exciting for us because it also gives us the ability to work that much harder. It gives us the motivation that something has been done before and we must match up to it. We can't compare it to the previous film because this has a different story. We have made sure that we have retained the essence and flavour of Tum Bin and just got our way out in Tum Bin 2. We have tried to do justice to our director's vision in our own beautiful way. We are not trying to match up to anybody here.
Q. Were you nervous when you give your first shot?
A. No, not at all. I thought that I would be but it just happened that we were so well prepared, thanks to our director Anubhav Sinha. In fact, we were more than prepared. We were so confident when we went on the first day of the shoot that it didn't feel like it was my first shot or my first film. I just went one by one and take by take. We didn't need too many takes in any scenes. It was all a cakewalk.
We underwent workshops before the film. We were totally in sync with our characters and lines. We became those characters before the film and that's what made it very easy for us.
Q. Even Aditya Seal is a part of this film. He has already done two films in the past. Were you a bit reluctant that maybe he might take away the lead from you or was it that you two bonded well on the sets?
A. I think the latter was true. Obviously, experience counts as well. I don't think there was any time when I felt any insecurity or felt that he is going to take away the lead. It's my first film so I only know what I know. But I believe that if you let insecurity creep into your mind, then to get your own best side out becomes very difficult. We connected very well in the first place. It was organic that Aditya and I kind of struck it off. We became very good friends from the first day itself. There weren't any insecurities so it just made everything simpler. The journey has been very nice and sweet.
There were times when I and Aditya used to sit in each other's scenes and watch it behind the monitor. If he used to give a great shot then I would go and give him a hug. It was always a very give and take kind of relationship we had. That made it even more special. We used to help each other. I think that's more important than talking behind each other's back.
Q. So how did you land the role?
A. I was in Delhi when I got a call from the casting director Mukesh Chhabria. I had given an audition for this role in Delhi itself. Then I was to perform another one in Mumbai. There were about 4 to 5 auditions that happened. My final audition was in Anubhav Sir's office. He called me up but I was shooting that day so I was late. I wasn't proud of that. I was the last person to walk in whereas Aditya was the first person who came in for the final audition.
That day I couldn't even remember my lines because they had made a few changes in the script. I just asked him to give me two minutes to read the lines. I knew he was angry. (laughs). After I performed the scene, he came to me and said, "If you can do the scene with this much honesty then I don't think I have anything to say to you." At that point of time it didn't hit me until I received a call from him after two days saying that I have been selected for the film. The rest is history.
Q. You did a finite TV series called Gulmohar Grand for Star Plus. Do you want to do more of films or more of television now?
A. I don't want to restrict myself. If a nice TV show comes in my way then I am all game for it. As of now, I have done this film and I hope that I get more such offers. There are a couple of them in the pipeline. I need to work as much as I can. (laughs)
Q. How was your journey from wanting to be an actor to becoming one?
A. It's not just a struggle. I feel it's a whole process and now the real journey has begun. It's been a journey of ups and downs every single day. It's been a huge struggle. I had to fight with every single day because I don't have a godfather and stay here alone in Mumbai. I had to do everything by myself. So, my every decision had to be very calculated. I had to be very careful.
It all began when I was in a boarding school and started doing theatre there. So, that's where my passion for acting comes for. I did my first play when I was in Class 6. My parents have seen me perform for a long time. I had that confidence in me and I always knew that I wanted to become an actor. Slowly, one thing led to the another and I landed up in Mumbai after finishing my studies. I did a few TV commercials and attended a few acting workshops. I did a TV show and now this film happened.
I have learnt and grown so much. I am very glad that I made this decision of coming to Mumbai because it has definitely changed a lot in me for the good.
Q. Earlier it was said that it is very difficult for a non-star-kid to get into the industry. Since you have gone through all the struggle yourself, do you think that people have now become more receptive to them?
A. Of course times have changed. There was a time when even the TV actors were type casted and it was very difficult for them also to get into movies. People including the directors and casting directors have become more receptive to newcomers like me. I was fortunate enough to get a film like Tum Bin 2.
Obviously, they need to be a little careful when it comes to casting newcomers because there is a lot of money is riding on their films. It's not easy to make films with newcomers. It's also very difficult to sell it to the audience unless they are a star kid. However now, things have changed a lot for the non-industry people.
I have great respect for people who make it big on their own without any godfathers. I know the struggle and it's the most difficult part of being in this business.
On the positive side, it keeps you going. It gives you the much-needed motivation. I think healthy competition is very important. People are getting all the more confident which is great and I respect everybody who is trying to make it.
Q. You are starting your Bollywood career with a romantic film. Do you fear that you might get stereotyped a few films later and end up getting only such roles?
A. If I can do justice to this romantic film, then it's great if I get stereotyped. It's been a long since the audience has got a good romantic hero (jokes). It's not true that I just want to do romantic cinema and be perceived as a romantic hero. I do feel that that there are so many other characters that I could play. Since I have started my career with a romantic film, I feel it's a good start. If there is an interesting action or sci-fi film or anything that appeals to me, it would be good to show that side of me. Maybe my next film could be a surprise to me as well. The more experience you have, the richer you become as an actor.
Q. Who are your favourite actors?
A. Daniel Day-Lewis and Al Pacino. In Bollywood, of course it's Shah Rukh Khan. Salman Khan is a charmer in his own way. I like Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Kay Kay Menon, Ranbir Kapoor and Ranveer Singh a lot. All these guys bring something completely different on screen. It's great to see them. I enjoy watching their films.
Q. Going by the trailer, Tum Bin 2 looks like a love triangle. So, in personal life have you ever faced such a situation?
A. No and I don't think I want to be in something as complex as that. (bursts out into laughter)