Joined: 23 July 2005
How did a professional architect design an acting career for himself?
(laughing) Well, I've always been inclined towards an acting career but was too lazy to pursue it seriously. Then, one day, while surfing channels, I learnt that Barry John was casting for a new play, Manto. I auditioned for it and got myself a break. Once I was a part of the theatre world it was inevitable that I'd hear of other opening. Another audition and I was a part of Aamir Reza Hussain's tribute to Kargil war heroes, The Fifty Days War. When the play moved to Mumbai I took a six-month vacation from my office and came with the rest of the troupe.
Was Mumbai a culture shock?
Not really though it is a dirty city. We were put up at the Hotel Sea Rock. We'd sleep the whole day, perform every evening and chat through the night. It was fun. The problems began when the play ended.
When I was in Delhi theatre was just a relief from everyday routine. I was lucky to have an understanding boss who'd let me leave at 5.30 p.m. sharp so I could make it for the 7 p.m. show. Without him I don't think I'd have pursued this hobby. I came to Mumbai as an actor and not an architect. For the first time I began to look at acting as a career and decided to give myself some time to see if I could make it in a different field. I had my portfolio done. I started doing the rounds of offices, going for auditions but no work was forthcoming. (Sighs) Those were hard times. I was very worried.
Why? You had a job waiting for you in Delhi.
True, I had a back-up profession and that bothered me. If I was a qualified professional what was I doing here? Would I ever fit in? Why wasn't I getting work? What could I do to improve? These thoughts haunted me night and day.
How did Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi come your way?
Around June-July last year I had auditioned for one of Balaji's serials and been rejected. After that I auditioned for several other roles but nothing worked out. Then around November I got another call from Balaji. It was a routine audition, not even for KSBKBT but while viewing the screenings Ekta Kapoor saw Gautam in me.
Are you a lot like Gautam?
Not even slightly. Unlike the Viranis who're a large joint family living together, I come from a small, close-knit family. There's just me, my parents, my nani, a younger brother and an older sister who's married. Gautam's an angry young man, I rarely lose my temper. I'm a Delhi boy, he's an NRI brat. He's rude, spoilt and not easy to play. But he's also a challenge for any actor because there's a softer side to him and his spurts of goodness take you by surprise. He's not really bad, just messed up because of his upbringing.
Tulsi's always reprimanding Gautam. Did your mother have to crack the whip often too?
She never had to because unfortunately I was a very good boy (Laughs). Even my leaving Delhi and becoming an actor didn't come as a shock to her because it all happened so gradually and naturally.
How is the family reacting to your new-found stardom?
They were very excited initially but now it's become routine for them.
Has it become routine for you too?
Initially, I had put myself under a lot of pressure. KSBKBT is one of the biggest serials and I knew I'd be on every TV set across the country. There was little scope of making mistakes but expectations were sky-high. Even I wanted to excel but that's not easy when you're a newcomer and still struggling to grasp what the character was all about. It wasn't that I was uncomfortable in front of the camera but it was only when I did a particularly difficult shot at 2 a.m. and was rewarded by an exuberant hug from the director, that I knew I could do it. Now the character has also gelled in my mind. It's easier now.
Is the adulation also easier to handle now?
At the end of the first two weeks I could see people wondering, "Hey, where have we seen this guy before?" Now after two months of being on air, recognition is instant and appreciation evident. Even Delhi is rocking now. I'm enjoying the high but I have not let it change my lifestyle, change me.
Your schedules must be erratic, your life a see-saw. Doesn't that bother you?
Life's not routine, yes. Everyday is different. There are days when I don't sleep for 30 hours at a stretch. It's exhausting but exhilarating!
You have a sister. Is she anything like Shobha?
I wouldn't know because when she was Shobha's age I was too small. But like Ritu who plays Shobha, my sister too laughs a lot, at anything and everything.
You must be flooded with love letters and marriage proposals. Like Gautam are you also planning on tying the knot soon?
Marriage? How do you spell it? Hey, I'm still a boy. There's so much bachpana in me still. Let me grow up first!
Is Ekta Kapoor really the tyrant she's made out to be?
She's very much in control which is understandable because she's the creative brain behind KSBKBT What I like about her is her genuine enthusiasm that inspires you to do better and better.
Are the Amanat boys a threat?
Why should they be? To be frank I haven't had the time to catch up on Amanat. What's happening?
They've also taken the 20 year leap and moved into the next generation?
A hundred serials could do that and it wouldn't make me feel threatened because KSBKBT was the first to adopt the strategy effectively. They'll always come second.
Finally, what other serials are you doing besides KSBKBT?
I'm getting offers but I want to concentrate on KSBKBT What's the hurry? This serial has put me in a position where I can pick and choose. I want to give myself time to exercise that right and opportunity.
I hope you liked it. I hope it wasn't been posted before.Please reply!!!Thanks!!!
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