by MOHNISH SINGH
THERE is no denying that 2018 was a dream year for Vicky Kaushal and a huge turning point in his flourishing career.
Winning performances in Raazi, Sanju and Manmarziyaan changed everything for the actor and brought him global recognition and respect as a performer.
The rising star has kicked off 2019 with a lead role in hit army drama Uri: The Surgical Strike, which is based on real-life events and clocked up big numbers at the box office.
The dynamic young actor is being heralded for his outstanding performance as Major Vihan Singh Shergill in the film and is now considered a bonafide bankable Bollywood star.
Eastern Eye met the talented actor at a deluxe hotel in Mumbai and talked to him about the rousing success of Uri: The Surgical Strike, his impressive recent rise and interesting future plans.
Your new film Uri: The Surgical Strike has set the box-office on fire. Did you ever think it would be such a great success?
No, I had not expected such kind of response. Of course, we were hoping it to open well, but the kind of response it generated on the first day of its release was overwhelming. People were clapping and whistling in theatres. ‘Jai Hind’ slogans were being raised in many theatres across the country. It was really great to know that the audience connected so well with the film.
What is the best compliment you received for your performance in the film?
I think the best compliment would be that – people are enjoying the film. They are clapping and expressing strong emotions. Not every day you get to see such a response in theatres. We wanted to stir the feeling of patriotism and nationalism in our audiences with a story revolving around the Indian army and people have connected so beautifully with it. People are saying that the story moved them. That is our win. That is the best compliment.
My favourite scene in the film is the one where you attend the funeral of your brother-in-law. The character is completely devastated, but has to suppress his emotions because of his duty. How did you feel shooting for that particular scene?
First, I would like to say that such scenes attract me a lot as an actor; ones where I do not have the luxury of words and where I cannot move my body, but I am still required to emote and express strong emotions. I believe scenes like that give a lot of scope to prove your mettle as an actor.
But, to be very honest, when we were shooting that particular scene, the moment the little girl (Riva Kashyap) cried, it moved every one on the set. We were not expecting her to cry so hard. But when she did, we got goosebumps. So, I think that energy is reflected when you see that scene on the screen.
You are now one of the most sought-after actors in Bollywood. With the success of Uri, you have further strengthened your position. How do you plan to cash in on your stardom?
I don’t think there is any need to cash in (on my stardom). I will continue to do what I have been doing so far. Being honest is very important for me. However, now is the time where I cannot lose my focus. I cannot take my success for granted. I will have to work harder now. I cannot afford to take my work lightly.
Tell us more…
I do not want to take success or failure very seriously. It is a very crucial phase of my career where I am getting opportunities to work with good directors and also being offered great stories. I don’t want to take it for granted. I will focus more on my work.
How selective are you when it comes to choosing scripts?
It has been there since the days Masaan was released. After Masaan released, I was flooded with Uttar Pradesh-based stories, which I tried to stay away from. Then I did Raman Raghav 2.0 (2016), which I knew was not a masses-friendly film, but I did it because I knew I would get a chance to show something new to the audience.
The character which I played in Raman Raghav 2.0 was diametrically opposite from the one in Masaan. This made filmmakers and audiences think that I can play different types of roles with equal ease.
You did not want to get stereotyped, right?
I believe no actor wants that. The industry and audiences do not lead to an actor getting
stereotypical roles. If that happens, the actor is solely responsible for that. I try to take up diverse characters.
Which film are you shooting at present?
I am currently shooting for a horror film. It is a completely different from what I have done so far in my career. It is the first time I am attempting a genre like horror. I will try my best
to take up different roles. Let us see what will happen next.
According to you, which film of yours turned out to be a game-changer?
I think my debut film Masaan gave me a lot of credibility. It was such an underdog film. No
one had thought it would garner so much love and appreciation. Everyone who was associated with the film got a lot of credibility. The movie opened many doors for me. Having said that, Sanju (2018) is the film that introduced me to Indian and international
audiences. Sanju is the film that helped me broaden my horizon as an actor.
There was a time when Bollywood producers frequently made patriotic films. Do you think films like Parmanu: The Story Of Pokhran and Uri: The Surgical Strike doing well will reignite the trend of patriotic films in the industry?
I really hope that it happens. There are hundreds of such stories which need to be told. If
you sit down with an army man even for just two hours, he will tell you so many fascinating stories that you can make films on. Not all stories of our brave army men and
their valour make it to the headlines. There are many stories our army does not share with the world for various reasons. So, I really hope that more army-based stories get silver screen adaptations. However, some movies are already being made on them, but more films can be produced.
You have done really well in a variety of roles. But what gives you more joy; the success of a solo-hero movie or a multi-starrer?
Both. It feels great when all your films are successful. A movie is the product of team work. Especially in these times where people appreciate movies with good stories. They do
not care about the cast. However, a good cast does help you get a good opening. When I sign a film, I don’t see whether I am the solo hero or the second lead. I make sure that I
choose films where the script is the real hero. By the grace of god, I have always been offered parts where scripts have been really strong. I hope I keep getting such
roles in future as well.
What kind of projects do you want to take up next?
I was craving a period drama, which I have finally got an opportunity to do in the form
of Takht and that too with the best team possible, and I am looking forward to the production to start.
Will we see you in an out-and-out comic caper any time soon?
I really want to do a comedy film. Now that I have ticked an army film off my bucket list, I
want to do an out-and-out comedy film.
Will you continue doing web-related films after last year’s Lust Stories?
Yeah, why not? As I said, I just want great scripts, good directors and producers and a
fabulous team. If I get some free time in between my shooting schedules for movies and
an exciting web story comes my way, I will definitely do it. Why wouldn’t I do it? After all, it
makes you reach out to a wide audience.