In Conversation with Vicky Kaushal: From Engineering to Films, Gangs of Wasseypur to Masaan and Zubaan and More

As a shy kid, Vicky studied to become an engineer. Coming from an illustrious family had little effect on him until he discovered theatre.

Sethumadhavan, Shrinivas and Souvik from MadAboutMoviez recently had the opportunity to get into a conversation with Vikcy Kaushal, where-in he went on to talk about his initiation into the industry, his father and of course, Masaan, the film that has won many hearts already. Read on…..

Masaan Character-DeepakCould you help us trace your journey till now? You come from a very illustrious background. Your father (Sham Kaushal – Action director) is a veteran in the industry. Did you also want to be a part of the industry because of that?

I was a very shy kid. Though I use to see my father go around with his business, I was very shy in accepting that even I wanted to be a part of the industry. As a child, I never went to the sets along with father. We never discussed about his work at home. But, subconsciously, the performer in me egged me on to do something. I use to take part in dramas & skits in school. I realized that the time I spent on the stage liberated me. I loved it. The more I performed, the more confident I became.

Later, when I grew up, I always wanted to be a part of the discussions that my dad had about films. I use to love to listen to the intricacies of a particular scene. I started to contribute.

One thing I was sure about was to equip myself with a degree before I plunged into movies. I armed myself with an engineering degree in 2009. What happened during my 2nd year of college turned things around. When we visited companies during field visit, I saw people doing 9 to 5 job. That was it. I made up my mind to get into the film industry. I did not want a job. When I told my dad about this during the last year, my dad was surprised. He wanted me to get a job, go abroad and settle down. But after a lot of introspection, I realized that acting was the profession for me.  The only thing dad made very clear was that he would not help me in any way and I would have to make my own strides and make a name for myself. It is a serious business and you won’t get job because you are somebody’s son.  Having seen my father’s journey, I said I want to do it. Thus, it began.

Apart from your father, your brother is also a part of the industry. Both of you have done short films. How is it in the family? Do you influence each other’s career choice?

We are taking baby steps. It is a very new experience for both of us. We are exploring. I did my schooling from Anurag Kashyap. That is how I met Neeraj. Neeraj & I were assistant directors on Gangs of Wasseypur. Then I tried my hands at theatre. I started giving auditions. I started knocking doors. Also did a short film with Mr. Vasan Bala called Geek Out, which in turn led me to my first film, Zubaan. Mr Bala showed Geek out to the director Mozez Singh and that is how I got my first film. We keep joking that now that my brother has done a short film with Mr. Bala, he will also get lucky. Everyone, Mr. Bala, Anurag Sir, Guneet Monga, all of them have been like family to us. So, Sunny is also working hard. He also has theatre experience.

You mentioned that you have been an assistant director on Gangs of Wasseypur. How does that experience help?

Of course, it helps. It helps in a big way. You get to understand various facets of filmmaking. You are pretty much in the driver’s seat. So, you develop a sense of understanding on everything that happens. It also helps you as an actor. Since, I had done it already; I know what the director would look for. I tried to bring in that experience when I prepared for my role as an actor.

Apart from my stint as an assistant director, my theatre experience came in handy. I was able to bring in a lot of experience from there. It helped me in softer aspects.

Vicky Kaushal-MasaanSo, how did Masaan happen?

As I mentioned, I knew Neeraj from our stint together during the making of Gangs of Wasseypur. He was working on the script then. Since we had developed a good working relationship, he asked if I would be keen to come on board. He was extremely clear and confident about the story he had in mind. So, I immediately said yes. But all that happened only after I went through a proper audition, dispelling Neeaj’s apprehensions too in the process.

Since you already go a long way back with Neeraj why was it surprising for him to accept you initially as the choice for Masaan? Apparently Mukesh Chhabra was instrumental in a way for you to bag the film?

Well yes they had auditioned a lot of people and nothing had worked for them. I was keen to try out for the role but then Neeraj had been to my house many times, knew background, is aware that I come from a typical Punjabi household. So for him to envision me as this Dom boy living on the ghats of Varanasi was quite difficult. But Mukesh Chhabra convinced him to see my audition as he felt I could pull it off, luckily it worked and the rest is history.

Tell us something about your experience while working on the film.

I had a wonderful time working on the film. Neeraj’s vision helped all of us in getting our role stop on. He helped me in getting the character right. He asked me not to get overwhelmed by the script and do my own preparation for the role. We went to Banaras together before the shoot and prepared together. He left me alone for a week and asked me to grasp in everything. The first couple of days were difficult. Coming from Bombay, it took some time to get used to Banaras. The narrow lanes, the crematorium, the crowded places were a little too much to take in. Near the ghat, where we were about to shoot, there were anywhere between 20 to 40 bodies being cremated every day. It throws you off balance. It took some time getting used to. I started shadowing locals. Looked at how they went about their work. I used to carry a note book and took down notes on how they moved about, how they spoke, what and where they ate etc etc. There was just so much to take in. Neeraj eased me into the character, helping me retain only the aspects required for the movie.

I also drew a lot of inspiration from Nawaazuddin. I learnt a lot from him during the making of GoW. I simply loved the way he prepared and slipped into the role of Faizal. It was as if he was Faizal and he belonged to Banaras. I adopted that technique and it really helped.
Masaan Poster 6You’ve been a Bombay/Mumbai boy all your life; apart from Gangs of Wasseypur probably Masaan was the only other time you’ve been away in a different city for such a long time. So how did you manage to go about looking convincing as the character of Deepak in Masaan?

It wasn’t easy at all, but then as an actor I am open to such challenges. I had a supportive director (Neeraj) and let myself be taken in by the atmosphere around me (Banaras). For a scene which involved me to be drunk and get emotional, I actually decided to drink and feel how the experience was like before giving that shot. I did that because I generally do not drink much, maybe a drink or two rarely but I have never ever till then experienced being ‘drunk’ and hence did not know how it could play on one’s mind and emotions. However the process quite helped. Now I know that hereafter if I need to portray any such scenes in any film I do not have to get drunk for it (laughs).

So are you happy with the way everything has shaped up?

Yes. Very much. Neeraj was so focused and hands-on on everything. There was very little chance for things to go wrong. The movie has shaped up very well.

Where do you go from here? What is coming up next?

Post Masaan, I have another movie releasing in September. The title of the movie is Zubaan, where- I’m playing the lead. It is radically different from Masaan. My character is very different from the one I have played in Masaan and it’s a musical.  I hope I get to do varied roles in the future. That is what I strive for. I would like to believe that this is just the beginning to a whole lot of things to come. Masaan has already garnered so much of love. I hope the next also does. I want to keep myself occupied and keep entertaining people.

Considering that your father is an action director, can we expect to see you in an action movie?

Why, I would love that. If given an opportunity, I would say yes at the drop of a hat. I love action. As I said, I would love to do as many different roles as possible. An action movie ranks very high on that list. So hopefully, I will get to do one in the near future 🙂



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