How is a film set different from a television set?
Both the mediums are different. When I go to a film set, I know exactly what I’m going to do because I receive the script much in advance. I prepare for the character. I spend a lot of time with the script, with the director and with the cast doing rehearsals. I tend not to talk much, just immerse myself in the scene. On the other hand, TV is spontaneous. And because there are last minute changes, there are too many surprises. I don’t mean TV is unorganized; it’s given me a lot.
Does the 24-hour deadline in a TV show affect the creativity of an artiste?
Both are different mediums. The expectations from the audience are different. Working back to back you do have to let go of a few details. Though I try to be as precise as possible. In films, you have to be careful about the graph of your actor.
Was modelling a stepping stone to acting?
Yes, modelling is a passport to acting. There have been actors like John Abraham, Dino Morea and others, who came into films after modelling. I didn’t have much love for modelling though. My passion has been acting. It’s addictive, something I want to do for the rest of my life.
How did you get your first break?
My father had once said, “The day you appear on screen that day I’ll gift you a motorcycle.” When the first episode (12/24 Karol Bagh) of my show was aired, my father gifted me a sports bike. I was riding the motorcycle around India Gate in Delhi. At the signal, there was a man in a taxi. He slid the window down and asked me if I was an actor. I said yes. He told me he was holding an audition for a Yash Raj film. I didn’t take it seriously. Three-four days later he sent me a message on Facebook about the audition again. I showed up for the auditions. I had to goof around like a Punjabi. They loved the spontaneous act. Soon, they asked me to join the team. I didn’t care about the remuneration. It was a Yash Raj film (Band Baaja Baaraat). I just had to do it. The rest is history.
Actors you’re inspired by?
I admire how strong Rajkummar Rao is going. He’s balancing so well between commercial and contemporary films. But I look up to Irrfan Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. If I ever meet Irrfan sir, I’ll touch his feet before shaking hands. I’ve watched his films in acting school. I just wanna be like him. But the real reason I was inclined towards films is Sanjay Dutt. I love him. If I were to meet him, I’d go crazy. Otherwise I’m not star-struck. In Hollywood, I like Daniel-Day Dewis and Leonardo Di Caprio.
Deepika Padukone. She’s real and natural. And that’s very rare. I also like Parineeti Chopra and Swara Bhaskar.
Any recent movies you wish you were part of?
I’d have loved to be a part of Newton. I loved the film. As I did Pan Singh Tomar and The Lunchbox. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be part of a commercial film.
You seem to be drawn towards content-driven cinema?
Rather, character-driven. It pushes you as an actor.
What are things you like to do when you’re not working?
I am motorcyclist. I love to ride motorcycles no matter what mood I am in. If given a choice, I’d never sit in four-wheeler. I ride a BMW R 1200 GS, it’s an expensive motor cycle. I’ve travelled around 15 countries on my motorcycle. I just finished my trip from Mumbai to Singapore and back home. It was terrific.