• Saturday, June 25, 2022

Arts and Culture

Marvellous rise of the Massey entertainer

FLYING HIGH: Vikrant Massey

By: Manju Chandran

VERSATILE ACTOR VIKRANT DISCUSSES HIS EVENTFUL FILM YEAR, LOCKDOWN AND INCREASED EXPECTATIONS

by ASJAD NAZIR

VERSATILE actor Vikrant Massey being a hot property in Indian cinema right now is perfectly illustrated by him having four film releases in a Covid-19-hit 2020.

All four films have been dramatically different to one another and shown off the impressive range of a bright star on the rise. The positive attention from his films Chhapaak, Cargo, Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare and Ginny Weds Sunny hasn’t gone to his head. He is staying grounded and looking forward to taking on more challenges.

Eastern Eye caught up with Vikrant Massey to discuss his remarkable rise, the added pressure it brings, dream roles, inspirations and how lockdown has changed him.

You have played a wide array of roles in a relatively short space of time. Have you had a chance to look back on your journey as an actor during lockdown?
In some ways, I did. I was fortunate enough to have three releases on Netflix. People were really warm and kind, especially on social media, where they are right out there with their viewpoints. So, my family and I have had the opportunity to look at everything and we are really grateful for all those opportunities, and happy the way work, life and my career have shaped up. No complaints! There is a massive sense of gratitude. I really wouldn’t want to think too much because I have just begun. Whatever has happened has been very pleasant and is something I’m very proud of. I hope to continue the run and would rather not dwell too much on things.

Have you consciously looked for roles in diverse genres?
In some ways, yes. As an actor, you really want to portray a wide array of personalities, characters or parts. But that is not always the case. There are larger interests at play sometimes. The story is obviously the hero and you want to do absolute justice to that. So, it is an amalgamation of a lot of things. But as an actor, before I choose a script, this is one aspect I consciously think of. I am getting opportunities to play parts I am confident about, which I, maybe, didn’t have five years ago; so definitely, I pay attention to that. But that is not the only driving force either. So, it is a mix of a lot of things.

Your most recent release Ginny Weds Sunny was a lot more commercial than your other more artistic films. Did you feel you were stepping out of your comfort zone with that?
I was definitely going outside my comfort zone. When I say that I don’t mean by dancing in front of the camera, but playing something that is so exaggerated. I had never done that. I’m not that kind of a person in general. So, I was a little apprehensive, but that is the challenge of spontaneity in genres like Ginny Weds Sunny, but this film was a very conscious decision.

In Ginny Weds Sunny

Why is that?
I generally don’t have the tendency to disconnect very easily through my work and had been doing a lot of intense stuff up until then. It somehow started taking a toll on me and my equation with family members and friends around me, because I was too much into my work. I was also trying to understand because I am not a trained actor, so whatever time I had, I devoted it to those parts. But then I wanted to be a little more spontaneous as an actor and Ginny Weds Sunny came my way. It enabled me to break out of the intense drama conflict, try something different and explore other avenues for myself as an actor; to tap into spontaneous aspects, not being utilised. In simple words, they say migration is the best experience. So, you have to migrate from one piece to another from time to time to refresh yourself and maybe come back, and then explore new pastures. Your space-set film Cargo just released on Netflix and it received an amazing response at the recent London Indian Film Festival.

What was it like doing such a different film like that?
It meant a lot. It is an experimental film, very high on philosophy and mythology. We all accept and concede the fact India, unfortunately even today, does not have a market for that. But this is where your conviction matters. It was (writer-director) Arati Kadav’s conviction in her story, our conviction in Arati, in ourselves and each other in return. So, it is such a gratifying feeling when a small film like this, made on a shoestring budget, travels to 25 international film festivals. We were a little apprehensive about the philosophical aspect of the film, but people understood and latched on to it.

Vikrant Massey in Cargo

Yes, the response to Cargo at London Film Festival was a rousing one…
Thank you! They appreciated the thought that had gone behind it. It’s a really heart-warming feeling and proof of the fact that content today is something which is catering to a lot of people on a larger scale. Everybody wants to see good content, especially on streaming platforms because it is accessible to one and all. Sometimes, it is released in 80, 90 and 100 countries. So today, all of us are creating content on a global scale. It is not just culture or society specific.

You have shown versatility, but which film genre are you happiest doing?
Thank you so much, you are really kind, Asjad. I love drama and interpersonal relationships. I think I am a sucker for conflict because I am very inspired by realism. I am drawn towards realism, and unfortunately, conflict is an inherent part of human society. And it is something I want to address through my work.

The expectations around you are increasing, does this put pressure on you?
I think it is something that I needed. I was probably somewhere down the line manifesting it, wanting it because I tend to perform better under pressure. And if there is a certain sense of expectation from a Vikrant Massey film per se I think that will only make me pull up my socks and deliver my best. So, I am willing to take it on the chin and face it head on.

You are making all the right moves, but do you have any dream role?
Every now and then there is a new dream role that pops up. Most of the times whatever films I signed ended up becoming dream roles. I fantasise about them and then live with them day in day out. I mean they obviously are dream roles. I would love to play Michael Corleone from The Godfather. I would love to play Langda Tyagi from Omkara or Robert De Niro’s part from Taxi Driver, but at the same time, I would also love to portray Bhuvan from Lagaan. These are immortal parts that are etched in our archival memory forever. Somewhere down the line, all these parts I have mentioned also represent conflict in some way or the other.

How have you coped with lockdown and has it changed you?
It has changed me a lot. I am far more patient. I am far more grateful for the smaller things, which I probably overlooked. The fragility of life has hit us hard on our chins. I am taking each day as it comes and really grateful for whatever I have in life, and couldn’t have asked for more. All of us are never going to forget this time, the last seven months, especially, across the world. This is one common history that we all have shared.

What inspires you?
Hope inspires me. I am someone who is always an eternal optimist and sees the bright side. I am always looking for that silver lining. Our human capacity inspires me – what we are capable of that we ourselves haven’t tapped into yet! But yes, hope is something that really inspires me.

Why do you love being an actor?
I love being an actor because I get an opportunity to say so many things that I want to as Vikrant, as an inhabitant of planet earth. There are so many things I want to talk about, and this platform gives me an opportunity to do what I love most, which is to act and communicate with people. It is also a chance to represent the times that we are living in now.

Eastern Eye

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