fame has come a long way since his cameo in Ekta Kapoor's Kyun Ki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi.
During the transition from an interior designer in Chandigarh to the winner of the Indian Telly Awards for Best Debutante, he has not only grown as an actor but also as a person. The rustic Shankar of Phulwa
shares his journey with Mumbai
Mirror. Excerpts from the interview:
Your character Alekh in Sapna Baabul ka Bidaai is that of a schizophrenic. What made you choose this role for your TV debut?
I consider this role a God's gift, as not everybody gets a chance to play such roles at the start of their career. I remember when I had come down from Chandigarh 4-5 months before the show, the auditions were going on and I thought it was worth giving it a shot.
What was it like playing Alekh?
The experience was amazing. I learnt all the mannerisms of schizophrenics – how they eat, sleep, talk... everything. It wasn't easy because the smallest details matter; I often observed how these kids reacted to certain situations and also researched a lot on the internet to study my character.
You were an interior designer, how did you get into acting? Was it something you always wanted to do?
True, I was an interior designer earlier and really enjoyed being one, but my mother wanted to see me as an actor. I chose this profession for her. I didn't know anything about this industry but things started falling in place slowly and steadily. After becoming Mr. Punjab, I won the title of Mr. North and even featured in many Punjabi music videos. On moving to Mumbai, I started getting modelling offers but didn't let that distract me from my main aim, which was to be on screen. I went for various auditions and Bidaai happened eventually.
You are currently playing the character of Shankar in Phulwa. Tell us something about it.
Shankar is very different from Alekh. It has its grey shades but the character wasn't that way from the very beginning, Shankar turns negative after he faces a tragedy. The look is also different from my previous role because this character is based in a village.
How did you prepare for the role? What kind of challenges did you face while playing Shankar?
For this role I gave a lot of importance to body language, but had a tough time picking up the dialogues because they were in UP dialect. I would sit with labour men or spot boys and listen to them talk to learn the accent.
Your character in Phulwa has grey shades; do you think this will affect your image in anyway?
Shankar is the opposite of the positive Alekh; actually this is what appealed to me and made me take up Phulwa. After playing Alekh for 3 years I wanted to try something different and wanted my audience to see variations of my performances. I don't want to be associated only with positive roles.
After Bidaai, there was a long gap before you took up Phulwa. Any particular reason for this?
I got a lot of offers after Bidaai but rejected them; even my parents and friends couldn't understand why I didn't take them up when it is so difficult to get work in the city. But I don't believe in rushing into things, it doesn't help. I am here to do good roles and stuck to my belief. As an actor you don't want to be stereotyped and Phulwa gave me the perfect opportunity to break out of the mould.
What are your plans for the future? Are you considering films?
Presently, my aim is to focus on Phulwa, but if a good and challenging role is offered to me in the future I will definitely take it up. So yes, the film industry is next on the cards.