'When you are not from this industry, you have to take everything really, really seriously.'
Ayush Mehra is enjoying the love he's getting for his debut OTT show, Call My Agent: Bollywood.
Directed by Shaad Ali, the series sees him take centrestage with Rajat Kapoor, Soni Razdan and Aahana Kumra.
Of course, it didn't come easy, but Ayush has quite a practical approach.
"You feel bad when you get rejected in the first 10 auditions. But after 20 and 250 auditions, it doesn't matter. It's a process, like hits and flops, and not to be taken seriously. You do your best and then forget about it," he tells Patcy N/Rediff.com.
What kind of feedback are you getting for Call May Agent?
I'm getting good responses.
A lot of people, who have watched the show, have said that I stand out. Since it's my OTT debut, it's really motivating.
A growing actor wants to hear appreciation in his first show at least.
Being a Punjabi, how difficult was it to portray a Parsi character?
There are challenges when you have to play a person who speaks a different dialect but the script helped me a lot.
Since they are modern agents, a lot of slang that Parsis use will not come in place. It will only happen when you are in a private space, or in distress.
The idea was not to overdo it, but to keep it natural, to have a sprinkle of it.
I have done it the way it was written.
It was challenging, and took a little time because I am not used to saying those words.
But some friends helped me with the script.
Each time we would do a scene, I would change it after discussing with Shaad sir.
You worked with actors like Rajat Kapoor, Soni Razdan and Aahana Kumra. Were you worried?
To be very honest, I did not worry because the cast was so nice and sweet. We got along from Day One.
All four of us became good friends by the end of it.
Aahana, Soni ma'am and I shared a van -- it was a three-door van -- and we would keep our doors open.
We would have lunch together, Rajat sir would join us.
In an ensemble cast, sometimes there is worry about screen time but since it is adapted from a French show, we knew exactly what we had signed up for. So there is no insecurity.
Meeting my co-stars was one of the best experiences of my life because all of them were so kind, generous, sweet and talented.
What did you learn from your seniors?
You can learn so much about acting and professionalism from Rajat sir.
Soni ma'am was so down-to-earth, so graceful.
Even if they were not in a scene, they would stand behind the cameras and give me cues, instead of an AD (assistant director). If a young actor like me sees this, I would implement it throughout my life.
The are so many things that I learned from these two, it's unbelievable.
Soni ma'am would get food for us, she would take care of us in the smallest of ways.
They didn't have any problems rehearsing with me.
How was it working with Dia Mirza?
It was one of the best experiences!
We finished shooting all the office scenes first, and then the celebrities started shooting. Dia Mirza was the first.
My God, she was so sweet!
And she was glowing!
We put the same makeup but we don't glow like that.
I have seen Dia act in movies for a while now and I didn't know that one day, she would come and talk to me.
She was the one who came up to talk to me.
She was the one, saying, 'Let's do our lines together.'
She was suggesting that we could improvise.
She would talk about random things and make me feel at ease because we had to be very comfortable with each other. I was playing her agent for maybe six-seven years.
I appreciate the ice breaking session done by her.
I wouldn't have had the courage to go up to her and start talking because I would feel may be I'm encroaching into her space.
I think the first episode looks very real and original. The chemistry between my character Meher and Dia is what it is, all thanks to her.
That happens to be my favourite episode.
My least favourite episode was the Sarika-Akshara episode..
I enjoyed that episode also.
Farah Khan ma'am is such a sweet person, she made biryani for all of us and called us to her van. It was really kind of her to do that.
I have watched all her films.
She is really funny as a human being.
She doesn't care about anything, and that's the best part about shooting with her.
Shaad sir and Farah ma'am are really close and they would talk about their experiences. Just listening to them was so nice.
Jackie Shroff sir was so cool to work with.
All of us were such huge fans of his that we would keep looking at him and forget our lines! Everyone was mesmerised by him.
He is so down-to-earth and humble.
I remember once when he was sitting on a chair, and I was standing next to him, he got up and said, 'Why don't you sit?'
I was really in awe of him.
You are so natural. How do you prepare for your roles?
There's a constant process to make it look effortless, to make it real. A lot of preparation goes into that.
I am very inspired by the West.
I am very inspired by great performers, I want to be like them.
I keep taking the effort to learn new stuff, read new stuff, and prepare for my role like it might be my last.
When you are not from this industry, you have to take everything really, really seriously.
Did you watch the original French show? How different is it from our Indian version?
I am a huge fan of the French show.
It is different from Bollywood space in terms of culture.
The story is the same, but obviously, the culture in France is very different from the culture in India.
It's exactly the same story but we've adapted a little cultural changes.
Did you ever have an agent?
I just signed an agent a year ago and everything is good so far.
They are very helpful.
They make my life easy.
We take decisions together.
In your personal life, have you come across agents who are the way you have portrayed on your show?
My agent is like me only, cares a lot about me.
If I'm not happy, they will not go forward with the project.
I am so glad I don't have an agent like Amaal (played by Aahana Kumra) or else she would start yelling at me!
You have done shows on YouTube before.
I have done three-four shows on YouTube and the effort and hard work is a lot!
Netflix is such a big platform, the scale here is different. The reach is worldwide.
I have not come on an OTT platform until now because I wanted to start with a good show.
It's a dream for any actor to get launched on Netflix.
I'm really happy with my debut because I couldn't have asked for a better one.
You shot the show during the pandemic. How difficult was that?
It was very difficult because I remember we had to stop one day because somebody had a fever. But it was just fever.
Luckily, on our sets, nobody got COVID in the two months that we shot.
It is a bit different shooting in these conditions because you can't be irresponsible.
You can't go out with your friends.
You can't meet your parents the way you do every day, so that's a little stressful.
Tell us about yourself.
I studied at N M college in Mumbai. I would dance in college shows. That's when I got interested in cultural activities and started doing plays.
I have given around 1,000 auditions! (laughs)
I was trying for ads, but it did not click so I started assisting in films.
I wanted to learn the craft because acting is dicey.
I thought that even if I did not act, I would write or direct.
Later, I started getting ads -- I have done around 150 of them.
I started doing YouTube sketches because of that, I started getting YouTube shows. That became popular and finally, I got my Netflix break.
Did you ever think about quitting?
No, it never crossed my mind.
You feel bad when you get rejected in the first 10 auditions. But after 20 and 250 auditions, it doesn't matter.
It wasn't that I was not working. I was getting a lot of work in ads.
It's a process, like hits and flops, and not to be taken seriously.
You do your best and then forget about it.
When will we see you in a movie?
I have already shot for a film. It will release next year.