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'I fantasised about being in films'

Last updated on: June 28, 2016 16:54 IST

'I remember I was doing The Hate Story and had finished shooting all the other bits with Paoli (Dam, actress), only the erotic bits were left. It was the first time I was doing lovemaking scenes and I had no clue how to do that.' 

'My wife was like, 'don't worry, just be comfortable, it's your job.'' 

'It was comforting coming from my wife.'

Knowing Gulshan Devaiah better.

Actor Gulshan Devaiah has been making waves with the kind of roles he's taken up. From The Hate Story to Hunterrr to his upcoming film Cabaret, the actor seems to be known for his bold choice of films.

Born and raised in Bangalore, he's one of the most affable actors in Bollywood, and it's quite easy to strike up a conversation.

Gulshan chats about his movies, and tells Jahnavi Patel/ Rediff.com what he's all about.

 

Gulshan Devaiah

Photograph: Gulshan Devaiah/Facebook

How did Bollywood happen?

I grew up in a house that was really fond of Hindi film music.

My parents, who are from Coorg, were amateur singers; they gave some stage performances and sometimes on television, on the local Doordarshan channel.

I used to hear Hindi songs all the time, from morning to evening, either on the radio or my parents singing something.

Through the music I developed a special fondness for Hindi films and big movie stars like Dharmendra, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor. I really liked Shashi Kapoor.

I fantasised about being in films since then.

Are you content with the way your Bollywood journey has shaped up so far?

In many ways I am, because I really didn't know how to get started when I came here.

I had a reasonable amount of money when I came here. I started working quickly, and worked with really good people, who gave me great opportunities like Anurag Kashyap, Rohan Sippy and Bejoy Nambiar.

They gave me great parts, the movies were great and it was a fantastic experience to work with them. 

I am happy because I am living my childhood dream. If you ask me, it was a stupid dream. But for a stupid dream to come true, it was quite miraculous.

When I look back, I find it magical that I am here, working in movies as a leading man, people are interested in working with me, people recognise me, movie stars know my name... so it makes me feel really nice.

Of course, I would like to do a lot more work. It's unfortunate that I have to turn down a lot of work that comes my way because I don't want to repeat myself or I find it uninteresting.

I am content but I think it can be better.

You've opted for bold roles in some of your films (Hate Story, Hunterrr). Do you fear being typecast?

There is a lot of typecasting and it happened with me also, because people saw me in a certain light.

Unconsciously I was trying to stay away from that, which is why I also did less work.

I feel I have a lot more to offer as an actor but I think it will take time for people to see me differently. 

For that matter, Harshavardhan Kulkarni (director) gave me Hunterrr, which was a comedy. Although you may classify it as a bold role, it was a comedy and a different kind of film.

I am not scared to be typecast; I can always not do the kind of roles that I don't want to do.

We didn't see you much in Junooniyat.

It's a small part, but an important one.

The film is a romance between Pulkit (Samrat) and Yami (Gautam). 

I enjoyed working with Vivek Agnihotri (director) again after Hate Story.

Gulshan Devaiah

Photograph: Gulshan Devaiah/Instagram

Are you happy with the kind of films coming your way?

Nobody is ever happy with the work that comes their way. I want more.

I am happy because I am living my childhood dream and that's a big deal.

Although, I don't want to think that it's a big deal because once that sense of achievement comes in, it curtails progress and I don't want that to happen.

But yes, I'd like to do more films. I'd like to do more variety. That takes time and it's important for me to be patient.

Is there any specific genre that you'd like to be a part of?

A specific genre that I wouldn't want to be a part of is horror.

I hate horror films because I am scared of them. I have refused some 15-20 horror films. If it's a horror film, then it has to be freaking awesome. Only then, I'd consider it.

Recently, I saw Phobia just because of Radhika (Apte). I told her I was going to watch it only because it was her film. 

Kalki Koechlin and Gulshan Devaiah

IMAGE: Kalki Koechlin and Gulshan Devaiah. Photograph: Gulshan Devaiah/Instagram

You're close to Kalki Koechlin, Richa Chadha, Radhika…

I've known Kalki for a long time, and we connect in a different way. She's probably one of my dearer friends.

The others I know through work.

I have a lot of respect for Radhika and Richa. I have been a fan of their work.

How did you meet Kalki?

I first met Kalki in Chennai when I was performing in a play. She knew some people there so she appeared briefly and left.

We performed the same play in Bangalore, and had a spectacular show, and she was there. After we were done, she asked if we wanted to hang out at her brother's place nearby.

That's how we started hanging out.

Once I moved to Bombay, we had a lot of common friends, so we became better friends over a period of time.

Do you and Kalki discuss work?

Not very extensively. We only talk about work when we are involved together, like if we're doing a scene together. Or sometimes we'd mention something that happened on set that day.

As friends, you take out your frustration, b**** about people, listen to one another and look for comfort. I don't think she calls me for any sort of guidance and neither do I. But if need be, we're there for each other.

Gulshan Devaiah and Kalliroi Tziafeta

IMAGE: Gulshan Devaiah and Kalliroi Tziafeta. Photograph: Gulshan Devaiah/Instagram

Do you discuss your projects with your wife Kalliroi Tziafeta?

Yes, all my projects.

I value her opinion because she is also educated in acting. She is a very creative and intelligent person. She's an actor and a brilliant writer.

Sometimes when I have strong ideas, I pitch it to her to see how good they are. 

Sometimes when I don't have any ideas, I brainstorm with her.

She has academic knowledge of acting; sometimes she presents me with exercises and ways of cracking things.

I remember I was doing Hate Story and had finished shooting all the other bits with Paoli (Dam, actress), only the erotic bits were left. It was the first time I was doing lovemaking scenes and I had no clue how to do that.

She (his wife) was like, 'don't worry, just be comfortable, it's your job. Think of it that way and do your best'.

It was comforting coming from my wife, who felt absolutely secure.

I was dubbing for Cabaret once and my wife had come and the person doing the dubbing skipped my kissing scenes with Richa because he was like 'your wife was sitting there'.

I told him she was cool with it.

I am so fortunate that I found this person. She's an actor too, so she understands the professional obligation of an actor.

In our personal relationship, no matter what problems we have in our marriage -- which every marriage has -- at a core level, we're very secure and we trust each other.

If I do an erotic scene or if she does one with somebody, there is no insecurity between us.

A still from Hunterrr

IMAGE: Radhika Apte and Gulshan Devaiah in Hunterrr

Is that one of the reasons why you attempt bold roles?

I have done such roles only in Hate Story, Hunterrr and probably Cabaret, but Cabaret isn't an erotic film at all.

If I connect with the role and like the project, I will do it. It doesn't even occur to me at that time.

After Hunterrr, somebody asked me didn't I think twice before signing the film as the character is a sex maniac? I said it didn't even occur to me till you asked. It felt natural that this character would do this and if it is justified by the script, I would never question it.

How did you meet your Greek wife Kalliroi?

I have an actor friend, Neil Bhoopalam, to thank for it; we worked together in Shaitan.

One of my first jobs when I came to Bombay was being a part of the play Hamlet, The Clown Prince by Rajat Kapoor. I couldn't be part of it as an actor, which was very disappointing, so I designed and operated the lights.

Then one day, Neil didn't have dates for the play so Rajat asked me to play his part. I confidently filled in for him.

Once we were to perform in Lucknow and Kalliroi was travelling in India and knew one person, Atul Kumar, who was a part of the play. She had just graduated from theatre school in London and they had met there.

Then she flew from Lucknow to Bombay with us and then went to Pune and other places. That's how we met.

Thanks to Neil Bhoopalam, who didn't have dates to do the show, I met my wife.

 

Gulshan Devaiah with his mother and wife Kalliroi Tziafeta

IMAGE: Gulshan Devaiah with his mother and wife Kalliroi Tziafeta. Photograph: Gulshan Devaiah/Instagram

On Father's Day, you shared a touching post about him. 

My dad isn't an emotional person and not communicative.

During my teens, my mother wasn't in the best health so it was dad doing everything most of the time.

I was absolutely papa's boy. He used to put me to bed, we used to sleep in the same bed.

As I grew up, my mother was more ill, so I became closer, emotionally, to her. She's a much more communicative person.

I think my dad had some aspirations. He told me once that he had thought of coming to FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) and joining an acting course. 

He would have liked me to be a doctor or something but he offered no resistance to my acting. For me to do what I am doing and for him having been patient and allowing me to do it, I just want him to feel proud that I was doing well with what I am doing.

That's how I think the emotional letter came and he actually responded to it.

What did he say?

He isn't on Facebook. He was visiting my aunt in Coorg and she saw the post and showed it to him.

He posted back saying 'I am really proud of you and I am really happy'.

What is happening with Hunterrr 2?

The last conversation I had with the director was when he said he wanted to take it on floors by the end of this year. He's wrapping up the final touches with the script.

I haven't read it. I know the concept because he had discussed it with me.

Gulshan Devaiah and Richa Chadha

IMAGE: Gulshan Devaiah and Richa Chadha in Cabaret

What are your future projects?

I have finished one schedule for a children's movie called Picture.

I finished shooting for a film with Konkona Sen Sharma, her first film as a director, called A Death In The Gunj.

I have also finished shooting for a small independent film with my friend Shanawaz called CandyFlip.

Jahnavi Patel / Rediff.com Mumbai