'I have a problem with the term 'outsider'.
'Doctor ka beta doctor banta hain, par aap baki doctors ko outsider nahi na bulate.'
'I always wanted to be an actor, yaar.'
'While I was in the bank for eight years, I was training to be an actor in Delhi.'
About a decade ago, Jitin Gulati was in an 9-6 office rut, working as a professional banker.
Even though he was doing well in his career, he was inclined towards cinema and wanted to be an actor.
When he made his debut in MS Dhoni: The Untold Story in 2016, his lifelong dream came true.
Despite the struggles, turning back was never an option for the actor.
"While I've been working consistently in the last many years, this was the first time I was being acknowledged for what I was bringing to the table. In that sense, I do feel that the spotlight is on me, and people are looking at me finally," Jitin Gulati tells Mayur Sanap/Rediff.com.
Does the actor in you feel validated after the success of Bambai Meri Jaan and Kaala?
No. For me, it is a journey and not a destination. I am just happy that I am being seen.
While I've been working consistently in the last many years, this was the first time I was being acknowledged for what I was bringing to the table. In that sense, I do feel that the spotlight is on me, and people are looking at me finally.
I don't like the word 'validation'. Because in validation, I am looking for approval.
I want to keep on doing the kind of work that I am doing and keep improving myself.
I will be validated if I consistently deliver.
How are you adjusting to this newfound fame?
I'm very happy. Being acknowledged is very rewarding; to be seen and be talked about as an actor.
Having been here for a long time, you always keep your expectations in check. I'm aware that your spotlight as an actor is always on the last project you've done.
I want to soak in all the luck coming my way, and then it'll be about the next project.
This is the first time my confidence has gone up because of all the acclaim that's coming my way.
What's your process to slip into a character?
Many times I find a parallel in a character that I play and in my own life. To justify this (character) is very important to me.
In Kaala, I play the guy who does what he thinks is right for him. What is right for him might be wrong for you but he's not a negative character.
He is actually the hero in his own life.
He is a homosexual man in the '80s and he's just trying to find a place for himself.
As far as preparation is concerned, everything was there in the script. Besides that, I did a lot of look tests with the hair, costume and make-up department.
I met the people from Humsafar Trust, the organisation which is handles the LGBTQIA+ community.
I spoke to a trans person and she was very kind to open up her life in front of me.
My biggest learning has been a documentary on Bruce Jenner (Untold: Caitlyn Jenner). She always believed that she was a woman in a man's body.
What was the brief from Bejoy Nambiar for this character?
That best part about Bejoy is that he does not tell us what to do.
He has a cinematic eye. He sees everything from a cinematic lens.
But he will never tell you he wants it this way. He wants to see what you bring to the table, and then he will adjust things accordingly.
He is one director I'm not fearful of failing in front of. I can make a fool of myself in front of him, and he'll be okay with that.
He really gives me that trust as a director.
How has OTT helped you to find your footing as an actor?
I am an actor because of OTT. I don't know what my career would have been if OTT was not there.
I wanted to act and knew that I could.
Films are largely commercial in their outlook. They make decisions based on commercial considerations.
Television is a totally different ballgame altogether.
OTT is only place where there's a volume. You find such fine writing and characters.
You are an outsider who made his way into films without any backing. What motivated you to make a shift from banking to acting?
I have a problem with the term 'outsider'. (Laughs)
Doctor ka beta doctor banta hain, par aap baki doctors ko outsider nahi na bulate (Doctor's son becomes a doctor but you do not call other doctors as outsiders).
I always wanted to be an actor, yaar. I have been working consistently for the last 14 years.
I know my work.
I understand the business.
Aur kya chahiye insider banne ke liye? (What else is required to become an insider?)
Of course, when you're not from Bombay and don't know how to make a living out of this, it takes time.
While I was in the bank for eight years, I was training to be an actor in Delhi. I used to work in the bank from 9 to 6, and train as an actor from 7 to 11. Every day.
I thought if I ever come to Bombay, I should come with training. I started training as a dancer and then I did modeling.
In fact, I came to Mumbai with my bank's job. I got transferred here.
I worked in a bank for one year and did modelling side by side.
Did you ever think of going back to banking when things were not moving?
No, never. I left a lot of things to be an actor.
I was a banker.
I also taught in college. I still teach in a MBA college in Mumbai as a professor of finance and banking.
What's the one thing that you're still trying to figure out about this profession?
It's an ever evolving business.
When I had entered the business in 2009, things were so different. There was no Internet, no social media.
My biggest challenge is to keep up with the times and evolve myself.
There are so many factors nowadays that decide how a particular project is made.
It is not only about my craft, my ambition or my work that will get me there. There are many, many, other factors that are in play, like your Instagram followers, your social media presence, your associations...
What kind of opportunities do you see coming your way from this point?
My next project is a comedy show for Netflix.
There's a film that I've done which is produced by Ali Fazal and Richa Chadha.
These projects should come out in the next three-four months.