'Masaan is history for me. This is another journey with Raman Raghav 2.0. You have to clean your slate after every film, and not let its success or failure affect you.'
Vicky Kaushal moves on, with Raman Raghav 2.0.
Vicky Kaushal will have a memorable 28th birthday on May 16.
His new film Raman Raghav 2.0 will be showcased at the 69th Cannes International Film Festival, and he's obviously going to attend.
"It will be the best birthday ever!" he exclaims. "What better gift than having your film showcased at Cannes on that day?"
The young actor has proved his talent with Masaan, for which he has won quite a few awards. Now, he wants audiences to see another side of him in Anurag Kashyap's Raman Raghav 2.0.
Vicky discusses Cannes, and more with Patcy N/ Rediff.com
Your film Raman Raghav 2.0 will premiere at the Cannes film festival, and it will be your second visit there. Are you nervous?
No, I'm not. I have no expectations. I went to Cannes before and it's important for me to move on.
Masaan is history for me. This is another journey with Raman Raghav 2.0. You have to clean your slate after every film, and not let its success or failure affect you.
I have moved on from Masaan but it will always be in my heart.
How comfortable are you facing the international media?
I don't know. Last year, I was very nervous, as I had not given a single interview before that, not even in India.
Once I reached Cannes, my first interview was with Anupama Chopra. I was really nervous and not sure of what I was going to say.
Eventually, I have realised that you just have to be honest and be yourself when you are answering questions. I am not nervous about facing the media there now.
Last year, you met Michael Caine and Rachel Weisz at Cannes. Who do you hope to meet this time?
I met Paul Dano as well.
I don't know who will come this time but if I bump into anyone, I will just go and tell them, 'Thank you for inspiring me, and I have just learnt to take a selfie'. I am very shameless.
Daniel Day Lewis is my all-time favourite actor, as is Tom Hanks and Michael Caine. These guys are legendary, I always get inspired by their work.
You assisted Anurag Kashyap during Gangs of Wasseypur, and then starred in his production Masaan. Were you signed up immediately for Raman Raghav 2.0?
No. My journey started with Anurag sir with GOW, whatever I know about filmmaking or cinema is because of him. I have learnt a lot from him. I treat him as a mentor. He's like my guardian in the industry. I bounce off ideas or films with him, and he guides me like a family member.
After GOW, I gave auditions, did theatre for four-five years and he knew what was happening in my life. After that, I did Masaan, where he was a producer.
Masaan released last June. Anurag sir called me for Raman Raghav in September. He told me there was a cop character for which he was thinking of casting me, but he had other actors in mind for the role as well.
He told me that the cop character was a very troubled person, he had seen a lot of disturbances in his life, he was a rebel, was into drugs, but was on the right side of the law. It was a layered character. He was not a good boy, he was demented.
He added that he knew my upbringing, my family background, where I came from. He said I was a nice boy, who had not seen those kind of circumstances in life, so ideally, he wanted an actor, who has seen those circumstances in life.
So how did you bag the role?
He asked me to test for the part. I got very excited because I was wanting to be directed by Anurag sir in a film.
Also, my characters were noble, sincere good boys in Masaan and Zubaan. So I wanted to do this, as I wanted to break that image and tap this side of me too. It was a great opportunity to do something new.
Anurag sir gave me two scenes and five days to prepare for the audition. He asked me to interpret it in the way I wanted.
I live in Lokhandwala (in Andheri, a western suburb in Mumbai) with my family, but we have another flat in Madh Island (in northern Mumbai), so I went there and locked myself in the room, closed the curtains, and switched off my phone. There was no newspapers, no television, no music... I brought ready-to-eat food.
I did nothing for those five days but I felt that even if I did not get the film, I would have experienced something new. The first day I got bored, the second day I started getting cranky, the third day I was irritated... I would keep saying those lines from the scenes like a mantra.
After five days, I just wanted to get out, I did not care whether I got the film or not. I was done with the exercise and could not take it anymore.
I went for the auditions at 12 noon, and auditioned to (casting agent) Mukesh Chhabra. By 2 pm, I was done. I was happy to go back home, as it was the first day of Ganesh Chaturthi, and my friends were going to come over. I wanted to laugh and talk but on the way home, I got a call from Mukesh saying Anurag sir had come to office and seen your audition and now, he wanted to meet me.
I went back and he started discussing the character at length with me. He made me release how different my take was from what he had perceived. I thought he would ask for a re-test but instead, he told me he was locking me for the part! He told me he could see the character in my eyes.
I was moved to tears.
What is it like working with Anurag Kashyap?
Anurag sir is a treat to work with. He will spoil you. He has been an actor as well, as he has done theatre for 10 years. So he understands the psyche of an actor really well.
He knows how a performance can be improved. If an actor is stuck at a certain point, he will know exactly what is bothering that actor and will change something and help you out.
As a director, he is very intimate with his actors. He will not sit behind the monitor and yell and explain the shot, he will come up to you and explain what's working and what isn't. He will give you freedom to change.
There was a scene that he really liked, and we were going to move on to the next scene when I told him that I felt like saying these extra lines, which were not a part of the script. He immediately agreed, and we did the scene again with those extra lines.
It is very comforting when your director trusts you.
Raman Raghav was a real life serial killer and you play the cop Alex Fialho, who arrested him. What kind of research did you do to play the role?
I cannot give you the details, whether I'm playing the character based on Alex or not. The reason why the film is named Raman Raghav 2.0 is because it is based on the character Raman Raghav, who existed in the 1960s but it is Anurag sir's take on it.
How was it working with Nawazuddin Siddique? Were you intimated by his talent at any point?
More than intimidating, he was kind of surreal to me. Five years ago, in Gangs of Wasseypur, I was telling him the shot was ready, or giving claps in front of his face or giving him the script and the day's scenes.
From that scenario to five years down the line... I remember Anurag sir made us sit together at an isolated location where no one was allowed to come while we were rehearsing a scene. While I was doing that scene, it just hit me that five years ago I was interacting with him in a different way and today I was doing a scene with him, brainstorming and rehearsing with him.
It was surreal.
Also, he is the kind of person who has not changed from how he was five years ago. He is a down-to-earth normal guy, who is very good at what he does.
He acts only in front of the camera, otherwise he is a normal human being. He is a great friend, a great tutor and a great guy at his work. So you always get inspired from him, more than intimidated.
There were many occasions when we would just hang out together after the shoot, and he would discuss his early days, of how he came from NSD (National School of Drama), how he was a new guy who didn't know what to do, his struggling days... it's so inspiring to see a guy reach this point.
Did you get to learn something from him?
What I learnt from him was that you need to act only when you are in front of the camera, you don't have to act everywhere.
You are as human as the production guy or the assistant director or the cameraman. It is just that you have been assigned a different job and you do the job when it is time to do it. You don't have to act when you are not in front of a camera.
I learnt humility from him.
He is a good listener. When the director guides you, he listens. I learnt all those qualities from him that will help me as a human being.
How has your life changed after Masaan?
It has changed in a beautiful way.
My journey started in 2009. It was long and tough, I would audition day in and day out, face rejections, do theatre but my life wasn't moving ahead, as I was waiting for that one opportunity to showcase my talent.
I never thought that I would one day bump into people -- who have inspired me all along, whose films I've grown up watching -- who would tell me that my performance was very good and are now keen to know what I am doing next.
Talking to them motivates you to do good work. It's a very good feeling to have your work speak for you.
You signed Zubaan before Masaan but it did not do well. When you look back now, do you it was a wrong film to take up?
I don't think so. I am very proud of Zubaan because when I read the script, I connected to it.
Every film has its own journey and destiny. You don't make a film thinking it will be a flop. You go through it in a very honest way and portray the character honestly, and let the film take its own journey.
The film could appeal to a certain kind of audience or it could not. You can get affected by it, you just have to learn from it and move forward.
Would you like to do commercial films?
Yes. Eventually, as an actor, it is my duty to entertain the audience. And in India, the audience is so diverse that there's an audience for Masaan, Kapoor & Sons, Singham, Dilwale... There is an audience for every kind of cinema.
As a performer, I want to cater to all kinds of audiences.
Are you being offered that kind of cinema?
Manmarziya is an out and out romcom, a love triangle and a commercial film.
I am in talks with a couple of films, which are out and out commercial ones. Let's see how it goes.
Your father Shyam Kaushal is a noted action director. Would you like to do action movies?
Yes, I badly want to! I hope it happens soon.
My father jokes about that. He says you've done three-four films but not a single action movie. He tells me to ask my director to put a scene where I'm walking down a street and someone teases someone and I bash him up. 'Do some action, yaar,' he tells me!
But what can I do?
What kind of advice does your father give you?
My father has been in the industry for 30 years. He has seen the industry change over three decades. He knows it inside out.
People ask me if it's easy for me because my father is from the industry. And I tell them it's a great support because that it's not only about the glitter. One has to make a lot of sacrifices. The industry demands a lot sincerity and hard work from you, and you need to have a lot of patience.
You don't get anything overnight. But he assured me that it was a beautiful industry and that he loved it.