'I belonged to a village where there was no light.'
'In Mumbai, I worked as a junior artiste, played small characters.'
'After struggling a lot, I got a break on television.'
'From there, I got a break in films.'
'It feels like a dream.'
'Sometimes when I feel low, I look back at my journey and feel inspired.'
Gurmeet Choudhary gets ready for his third film, The Wife, a thriller directed by Sarmad Khan.
But that's not all.
He is also exploring new avenues on his YouTube channel, posting videos from his life.
"People have seen me work in films and television, and I thought I would tell fans how I am and how I live," he tells Rediff.com Senior Contributor Radhika Rajamani.
What prompted you to start a YouTube channel? Did the lockdown trigger this idea?
I guess it was the lockdown.
I am very active on social media, but YouTube has a fan following which is different from Instagram or Facebook.
It's a different world.
If we have to do a film promotion, a trailer or song, everything goes on YouTube.
I thought this is the right time to talk to fans one-to-one.
People have seen me work in films and television, and I thought I would tell fans how I am and how I live.
There is a large number of youth following me, so there is a huge responsibility too.
I thought why not motivate them in life?
I come from a small village in Bihar and have earned a name in Mumbai.
When you tell your story, you can inspire many people.
This channel seems to be for edutainment because you impart 'guru gyaan', as you call it.
You give tips on how to cook, like making a keto cake, or making an eco-friendly Ganesha. How have you planned to go ahead?
I have not thought about how I will plan this.
I made a video on my journey from Mumbai to Jaipur (for the shoot of The Wife), how I underwent the COVID test, how I travelled on the plane, how we reached the hotel, how the studio is, what precautions we are taking during the shoot, how the studio is sanitised...
I released this video on YouTube.
This will give an idea to people.
I feel the videos should be random. If I plan them, it will get boring.
I may shoot videos on fitness and food. Many people work out, but don't eat the right food.
If you eat the right food, it can change your life.
Another theme is meditation. We keep our bodies fit, but are we maintaining our mental state?
I am a black belt in martial arts. I want to show what all can be done in fitness.
How did you and your wife Debina spend the lockdown?
Usually, one of us is shooting and the other is at home. Like now, I have come to Jaipur and Debina is free.
But the five months of lockdown we spent together, reading books, watching films...
Why did you take so long for you to sign a film after Paltan?
I had signed The Wife in January and started shooting in March. Then the lockdown began.
I always believe that if you do a film, do it with good people.
The director should be good, there should be a good studio, a good producer...
I have completed fives years in films. This is my fifth film.
I'm doing one film every year.
But now I think I should sign more films.
How did you sign The Wife?
Zee Studios have released good, big films and they came forward with this. If they have locked a subject, I felt it would be a good one.
I felt the script was good.
I have acted in two or three hero films, but here, I play the solo lead.
Zee Studios has put the film on my shoulders and it is a big achievement for me.
After playing a junior artiste, I became a TV star slowly.
I feel if you win the race slowly, you will win.
How do you see your journey from acting on television and then films? What struggles did you you face?
As I said earlier, I come from a small village in Bihar.
My father was in the army.
I belonged to a village where there was no light.
In Mumbai, I worked as a junior artiste, played small characters.
After struggling a lot, I got a break on television.
From there, I got a break in films.
It feels like a dream.
Sometimes when I feel low, I look back at my journey and feel inspired.
How did you go through this period of struggle?
I believe in never giving up and hard work.
I have always seen my dad in army uniform.
I have learnt from him not to accept defeat and to work hard.
This has been my mantra.
I believe if a person believes in hard work, s/he can achieve anything.
Before I earned fame, I lived in a small room with many people.
Even in that struggle, there was some fun.
Even now, when we have time, I go with my wife to those lanes and bylanes... she knows how I lived then.
Is your father's army background the reason you are into fitness?
I have seen my father taking fitness seriously and his fitness training has always inspired me.
When I saw Salman Khan's body for the first time, the desire for fitness struck.
The trend of gyms is because of Salman.
Bollywood films inspire people and their lives, and Salman has inspired many.
I felt I should build a body like that whether I become an actor or not.
How do you plan your diet?
My first meal is boiled eggs and vegetables. I have given up eating non-vegetarian food.
People told me you cannot build body without eggs, so I will have them for some time and then maybe stop eating it.
Having vegetarian food for the last five months has had a good impact on my body.
People are surprised that I became a hard core vegetarian.
I eat paneer.
I avoid rice and roti.
I take calcium and multi-vitamins.
What kind of risks have you taken in your career?
I think I have taken risks every time.
When I came here to be a hero, people said junior artistes get typecast in small roles.
When I played Ram in Ramayan, people said you will get typecast and get only mythological roles.
When I did Punar Vivah, people told me not to play father to two children in this young age.
When Khamoshiyan was offered to me, I took a risk by saying it was the right time to get into films.
At every step, it is necessary to take risks.
If you do not get out of your comfort zone, you cannot do something new.
J P Dutta's Paltan was about the India-China war. People told me only India-Pakistan stories work. But I found the subject of Paltan good.
When this happened some months back and many jawans were martyred, people are getting to know about this.
Sometimes when we take risks, the result may not be good, but it happens later.
Ramayan was a popular show when it was televised, but not number one. In the lockdown, it was shown on a new channel and it became the number one show. It was shown after 10 years and it beat other serials to the top slot.
Would you like to work on television now or will you focus on the big screen?
Whatever I am is because of television, so it will be wrong to say no to it.
I cannot do a daily show because of films, and a separate preparation is needed for it.
If one is doing a daily serial, one cannot do anything for two years.
If I get anything in between, where I can showcase my talent, I will do it.
What has been Debina's role in your career?
I always believe there are many people behind your success.
There are so friends who helped me with money when I left home.
Then Debina came into my life. I kept working hard, but there should be someone who guides you.
I got a lot of support from Debina mentally.
I feel my dream became Debina's dream.
She came into my life when I was not anything.
She believed in me, she is my backbone.