In an industry where the N-word often raises its ugly head, Vicky Kaushal has debunked this theory and how! Despite being action-director Sham Khaushal's son, the actor had his own share of struggle when it came to chasing his Bollywood dreams. From tearing his offer letter for IT job to finally landing his first film Masaan after countless film auditions, Vicky's journey is an inspiring one.
The actor took a giant leap in the year 2018 with Meghna Gulzar's Raazi where he held his own in a film which was largely female-centric. This was followed by an affable act as Kamli in Rajkumar Hirani's Sanju and in Anurag Kashyap's Manmarziyan. Since then, his fan-following has been increasing by day.
As Vicky gears up to begin 2019 on a rock-solid note with Aditya Dhar's Uri, here's an excerpt of our conversation with him.
Q. To begin with, how does it feel to be the most important person in the industry right now where every director wants to work with you?
A. (laughs) These are very sweet words. I am nowhere close to being the most important person in the industry. 2018 was a great year and now, upcoming one is also going to be a great one.
Q. But, you do seem to feature on every director's wish-list..
A. That's great because I want to work with every director. So, it has been a great year and I feel very grateful to God, to the people who gave me the opportunities to work with them and the audience. It's been amazing. I got to do good work, associate with good people and hear good things. It was just wonderful.
Q. From playing a Pakistani soldier in Raazi to pulling off a Kamli in Sanju, what's the secret of your versatility?
A. I think I just got the opportunity to work with very versatile directors in my career. That's the truth. But as an actor, everybody aims at taking up different roles and try to do justice with each and every one. But, when you have good directors to guide you, things happen a lot more easily.
Q. Would you say that Uri was your most challenging role till date?
A. It was the most exhausting experience I have ever had while shooting for the film. Firstly, the prep alone lasted for six-months. I had never done that before. Then, I shot for 2 and a half months continuously; out of which 35 days were action-based. It was really tiring. But in retrospect, you always feel about bagging that chance once again.
Back then, I was like, "Enough, yaar! I can't do anything more!" But now, when the film's release is near, I wonder when such an opportunity will come my way again! Of course, you tend to get nervous when a film's release date inches closer. But we are sure that whatever blood and sweat we could have given to the roles, we have!
Q. Were you aware about the URI attacks when you took up the film?
A. We heard of wars and clashes before, but when the conference happened on Sep. 19, I heard the term 'surgical strike for the first time. Later, I read in the newspapers that 38 terrorists were neutralized in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir without any of our jawaans getting so much as a scratch!
So when the script came to me, the actor took a backseat and as a citizen of this country, I was eager to know what had happened, and needed all the answers to my questions.
When I read the script, there were surprises on every page. The pain and hurt had to be answered this time, and the entire country wanted to know what the government was doing, and whether it was doing anything at all. Despite that, our teams kept their sanity and self-control and executed such a wonderful covert operation. I personally feel that every Indian should know this story.
Q. Were there any moment when you got goosebumps while shooting for the film?
A. Every single day while training for the film. They would just say, ‘Oh, today was only a trailer!' when we had worked so gruelingly. But it was also an honor for us to portray such roles.
As an actor, you feel happy and thrilled to get a close view of lives of new people. Outside work too, our interactions with the armed forces was very fascinating. And when you talk to them you realize that while we as actors just may steal the limelight, these are the real heroes!
Q. Since you have closely interacted with army men, when you go back to Twitter and see tweets against the film which alleged 'jingoism', how do you react to them?
A. Looking at it realistically, I must tell you that no matter what you do, you will get every kind of opinion. Twitter is a place where it is very easy to just throw an opinion. But that's okay. When you are creatively doing something, both positive and negative feedback are welcomed because at least, you are instigating a discussion which is great.
I just want people to watch the film after which all their doubts will get cleared.
At many times, we have our answers ready in our mind. But then, we want to communicate that through our film. We want really like them to find those answers in the film.
Q. Finally Vicky, you have played a Pakistani soldier in Raazi and an Indian one in Uri.
A. Someone told me, "You did a great job, going there, collecting information and then executing surgical strikes!" Next, I should take up a film based on 'No Man's Land' (laughs).