He shot to fame with his debut film Masaan that garnered a lot of eyeballs across the world. Now all eyes are on Raman Raghav 2.0 where he is playing Raghavan, a cop who is unpredictable, temperamental and a drug addict. He tells Sangeeta Yadav that the movie has been his most challenging project thus far
- How was the response of Raman Raghav 2.0 at the Cannes Film Festival?
It was very good. We got a standing ovation. During the interactive session, there was one person who stood up and said the movie was not what he had expected from an Indian film. That was overwhelming. Whenever a film is about to be screened, there is 90 per cent excitement and 10 per cent nervousness and anxiety. There is a sense of happiness that something good is going to happen and all your hard work will be unveiled and appreciated by the public.
- You started your career with Anurag Kashyap and now you are acting in his film…
Anurag sir is a very important man in my life. He has seen me grow since I was 15-years old when my father Shyam Kaushal worked as an action director for his film Black Friday. I used to call him uncle. In 2009, I had passed out of an engineering college with a job offer in hand. But I tore it to pieces and decided to pursue acting. My Bollywood journey started with Anurag sir as an assistant director for Gangs of Wasseypur (GoW). Five years down the line, I’m working with him as an actor and that’s very special for me.
- How did you bag this role?
Post Masaan and Zubaan, I was looking for a film which was mentally, emotionally and physically challenging and when I discussed with Anurag sir about playing Raghavan, he gave me five days to prepare for the audition. To get into the character, isolation was required. I had to be isolated amid a crowd and disconnect from everything around me. I stopped interacting with my family for a month though we stayed under the same roof. When I was told that I have been locked for this role, I was in tears. It’s a great opportunity, a bigger responsibility and my biggest test as an actor.
- How challenging was it to play Raghavan?
The biggest challenge was to understand his mindset. Raghavan has a lot of layers and is very unpredictable, temperamental and a drug addict. Staying in that space for 16 hours was not an enjoyable process. There were moments when I forced myself to be in that space and not get carried away and start being Vicky. There were these moments where nobody on the set was allowed to talk to me and Nawazbhai. I was so much into the character that I was not able to sleep because I would constantly think about how bad Raghavan was in real life and how he could do what he did. So it was a tricky space to be in.
I was also surviving on a couple of hours sleep everyday but that helped as it perfectly suited the character who was an insomniac living on the edge. I’m glad that I pushed my boundaries to explore the unknown.
- What about your look?
Anurag sir wanted me to look muscular. I did some weight building. I stopped drinking water during shoots to get that dehydrated look on my face. Raghavan was addicted to drugs and I had a scene where I was shown making the mixture and snorting it. To look like a druggie, I used to practice making the drug in my room with cornstarch and Glucon-D and snort it. The character is also a chain smoker so I would smoke a lot. I used to joke around that I should not be given a vanity van. Just get me an ambulance and I will do my makeup, I would often say.
- Any moment close to your heart?
On the first day of shoot, Nawaz bhai and I were preparing for the interrogation scene in one corner. We were in the middle of our rehearsals when an assistant director came and said, ‘sir, your shot is ready’. That was a surreal moment for me because five years back during GoW, when Nawaz bhai used to rehearse, I was that assistant who came and said to them ‘sir your shot is ready’. I couldn’t believe that five years down the line, I’m on the other side with the same actor.
- Do we get to see you dancing in this film?
Yes, you’ll see a cop going mad on the dance floor in the Qataal-E-Aam song. During the wrap party ofGoW, Anurag sir saw me dancing on Dev D’s song Pardesi. He came to me and said ‘you dance very well and if I get an opportunity to make a film with you, I will make you dance. That’s a promise.’ When I signed this film, the script had a club sequence but no dance. Just to keep his promise, Anurag sir incorporated that dance and got a song made and told me to dance. There was no choreography and we shot the song in two-and-a-half hours with 150 extras on the dance floor.
- Was it difficult to come out of the character?
Personally, I wanted to run away from that space of being Raghavan and return to normalcy as soon as possible. I felt creepy thinking about a man doing such terrible things in life. It was taking a toll on me. But now that I look back, what I went through was worth it. Acting gives us an opportunity to be somebody that we can’t be in real life. After the shoot got over, I took a week’s break and spent time with family and friends and doing what Vicky does best — being Vicky.
(The article also got published in The Pioneer Newspaper – http://www.dailypioneer.com/sunday-edition/sunday-pioneer/backpack/i-had-to-remain-isolated-in-a-crowd.html)