In conversation with Hiten Agrawal…
What is your film 'Shaabash- You can Do It' all about and what is your role in it?
'Shaabash-You Can Do It' is an inspiring Hindi film that addresses youth centric issues such as ragging, campus feuds, interpretation of love and relationships, competition, etc. with a very fresh and simplistic approach. It's a film about an underdog, how a looser can change into a winner. In the process of metamorphosis, my character of Neil, a small town boy goes through a sea of change. Neil has come to the city for studies and learning various arts like yoga, gymnastics, dance etc. He finds the confident person he is looking for in himself. In fact I find Neil to be very close to me in real life too.
Can you share something that happened on the sets of Shaabash- You Can Do It?
What I learnt from Whistling Woods was Method Acting, which means that actor does what is there in the script. But while shooting I noticed that all others were going by the script but they were also improvising. I would sit down and memorize my script. So one day my Director Shankar Mondal told my leading lady Mansi not to rehearse with me for my scenes. That made me rehearse on my own and give my best. Then I started taking liberty with my performance at times, to bring the natural influence. I got practical training.
What inspired you to be an actor?
India's 95% of population wants to become actor, so I am no exception to that. But very few get the chance to fulfill their dream. I was lucky enough to get the platform to reach my dream and be an actor. Since a very young age, I used to be in an awe of action stunts done by Jackie Chan and Akshay Kumar. I used to dream myself in their place. I always wanted to check out the life style of Mumbai, so one fine day, I took permission from my family to do MBA here and they agreed. As soon as I reached here, I joined Shiamak Dawar Dance Academy and did theatre with Indian Drama and Entertainment Industry.
How did you move towards hard core film acting?
I collected enough courage to ask for my father's permission to join Whistling Woods for a one year course. Since they had seen the ads stating this course was of two years, they knew I was trying to do soft pitching. But they agreed because they wanted me to take my chances. I am so happy to have my family's support because it boosts your moral.
How did you prepare yourself to be an actor?
Apart from the rigorous training that I was getting from Whistling Woods, I was also training myself for hard core actions stunts separately. Every day I would get up early in the morning and go to the beach. There I would train for gymnastics, martial arts, jumping, free running, special stunts and buoying. I am now an expert in Parkour, an art that Akshay Kumar has used for thumps up Ad. I have also done four years of yoga training and practice. Currently I am further honing my dance skills with Lewis Terrance.
What is the need to go overboard with your training? You could have done this all in stages?
No, I had limited time to do my training because my family would not have given me so much of grace period. I have survived on 4 to 5 hours of sleep for two years but in the end I have so much more to offer my producers. I am sure that I will be able to make a niche for myself in action.
How was your experience during Whistling Woods training?
The first time in my life that I ever tried to act, was at Whistling Woods. I did a monologue in front of Naseeruddin Shah and he awarded me the best student actor. It was so inspiring to get that pat on the back and it became the driving force for me to do yet better. It also gave me the strength to fight with every situation and increase my confidence level as an actor.
What is your criteria to do a movie?
I am big fan of Jackie Chan and Akshay Kumar as they can both do action and comedy together excellently. They are my idols. And as a new comer I don't have so much of liberty to change the script as per my wish nor should one try to do it because creativity is the field of director and writer. I do have some offers in hand but I cannot be too choosy. I am looking for a combination of a good script, decent production house and a well crafted character for myself.
Now-a-days lots of Star kids are coming in industry so how will you survive the competition?
There is lots of space for new comers and talented, hardworking people. There are so many examples of those who are from the outside of the industry. The biggest example is SRK, then Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Manoj Bajpayee, John Abraham, Ritesh Deshmukh, Shreyas Talpade, and the list goes on. I am lucky that I got my first chance even before I had left the campus of Whistling Woods. I'm hoping for a longer innings in the industry.
We wish Hiten good luck!
Reporter and Author: Susan Jose