'When work came easily to me, I didn’t pick up any because I wanted to do quality work.'
Gautam Gulati discusses his Bollywood debut, Azhar.
Gautam Gulati, who won season 8 of the celebrity reality show, Bigg Boss, is finally making his big Bollywood debut.
The television actor will be seen in the Emraan Hashmi starrer, Azhar, which is based on the life of former Indian cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin.
In this Tony D'Souza directorial sports drama, the 28-year-old actor plays the role of a cricketer-turned-commentator.
Contrary to reports, Gautam says his character is inspired by many cricketers and not just Ravi Shashtri.
The Diya Aur Baati Hum actor says he was flooded with film offers post his stint on Bigg Boss but decided to take the plunge only when Azhar came his way.
In this exclusive interview with Rediff.com contributor Rajul Hegde, Gautam talks about his Bollywood debut and how life has changed post Bigg Boss.
Tell us about your role in Azhar....
I am playing a cricketer-turned-commentator called Ravish in the film. My character is flamboyant and a dude. My role is inspired not only by Ravi Shastri but by many cricketers.
We have never said that this character was inspired by him (Ravi Shastri); people made that assumption because of my getup in the film.
What did you find most challenging about the role?
It was difficult to catch the right accent. I watched a lot of videos of different commentators like Navjot Singh Sidhu, Ravi Shastri and Tony Greg for a month. I also participated in a couple of workshops to do justice to my role.
I had to do the commentary in both Hindi and English. One needs to have good knowledge and presence of mind to be a good commentator. I observed a lot to get all of it right.
For this role, I had to cut down on my muscular body and look lean. So I quit hitting the gym for five-six months and lost a few kilos to look convincing onscreen.
Do we get to see you play cricket in the film?
You will not see me play cricket. The story is more about Azhar and his journey. I did miss playing cricket in the film; I am a good cricketer (smiles).
How did you bag Azhar?
When I met Ekta Kapoor (producer, Balaji Motion Pictures) after Bigg Boss, she suggested I should only do films. Initially, I didn’t have the knowledge, so I signed a couple of films where I was playing the lead role and was getting paid very well.
However, the films did not have well known producers backing it. I decided to return their money. After that, I must have said no to 30-35 films because I wanted to work with a good banner that would give me a wider reach.
When I was offered a role in Azhar, I grabbed the opportunity as it was from a good banner. Plus, I liked the role.
What was working with Emraan Hashmi like?
You will get to see us in few funny scenes. I had a good bonding with him. He’s pleasant and a chilled-out person. I was very comfortable working with him.
He was behaving exactly like his character, giving me the cue. I never, for once, felt I was working with a big star. Emraan is knowledgeable and has a great sense of humour.
Did you get to shoot with Nargis Fakhri?
I just have one scene with Nargis. She is cool and fun to talk with. She dances when she is happy. She is famous for yawning at full volume and everybody gets to know that she is yawning (smiles).
How is life post Bigg Boss?
Life is pretty good but hectic as well. There was a time when there was no work and I would dream of things that I would do once I get work.
When work came easily to me, I didn’t pick up any because I wanted to do quality work. Right now, I am focused on working hard.
Touch wood, I don’t regret anything in life. I am happy with the way the life is treating me. I want people to say nice things after the film and also say he deserves more (smiles).
I keep myself fit with 5-6 hours of training which includes gym, yoga, swimming, Zumba and cycling. I have recently upgraded my level of fitness with gymnastics.
I was stunned seeing Tiger Shroff doing gymnastic stunts in his movies flawlessly. I approached him (Tiger) and he lent one of his trainers who teaches gymnastics.
I am a trained dancer from Shiamak Davar's dance academy.
So what's next on the cards?
I have a three movie deal with Balaji. I am looking forward to my other two films with Ekta. Plus, I can work outside Balaji too.
Has your fan following increased since you are doing a film now?
As of now, I do get lot of attention as Gautam and I feel happy about it. Let's see after film releases.
Are you in touch with your Bigg Boss host Salman Khan?
Yes, sometimes I message him during festivals. He is a busy actor, we need to give him some space. But I am not in touch with any of the housemates from Bigg Boss except for Puneetji (Issar).
You all must have seen how they behaved with me in front of the camera. You can imagine how they all must have behaved with me behind the camera.
I am cordial to everyone whenever I meet them but not in touch with anyone.