In this freewheeling chat, actor Naveen Kasturia gave us an insight into his struggles to fame and process as an actor.
How did the journey in the Industry begin?
I was working after engineering, when I decided to quit job and move to Mumbai to become a director. I never wanted to become an actor. In school, I used to make my own plays and also act in them, so I assumed I could follow a similar path in the film industry, that is make my own films and later act in them as well. I wanted to start as an AD, for which I was gong to different offices. There was an opening in Vishesh films and I happened to be at right place at the right time. I started with assisting Bhatt sahb in Jashn, before I met Dibakar Bannerjee and became his AD in Love Sex aur Dhokha.
Khosla Ka Ghosla was a film that made me feel that I could become a director. The movie was set in a middle class milieu, which made me feel I could also tell my stories. After working with Dibakar, my respect for him grew all the more. He is extremely methodical. The way he approaches the story, conducts technical recce before the actual shooting begins is exactly how I had read it in filmmaking books.
Where did u first meet Arunabh?
When I finished my first film Jashn, I wanted to work with someone who has similar sensibilities. I was meeting people for work when I read Arunabh’s interview in paper that he was an IITian about to direct a film. Since I was also an engineer, I felt I would able to connect to him. I arranged for his number and met him. The film that he was meant to direct never happened, but we kept in touch, hung out a lot and eventually became great friends. I even helped him in casting for Engineer’s Diary (the TV show he had pitched to MTV).
We would jump a few years now and come straight to Pitchers. What were your expectations from it initially? And how did life change after it came out?
Honestly, I didn’t expect it to be such a huge success. I definitely liked the script. One of my movies (Sulemani Keeda) was already out so my focus with respect to Pitchers was to give best to the character. The makers were more confident about it and were trying to make it into something inspirational. What happened was that between each episode there was a lot of time, when we were getting the responses. They were extremely overwhelming. It was then that we realized that we had cracked something big. It changed the life of all of us for sure. People started recognizing me as an actor.
We have seen you in the same small-frame built ever since you became an actor. Is it deliberate on your part so that you can continue doing the middle class boy-next-door roles people identify you mostly with?
(Laughs). That’s an interesting question. I don’t know how to answer it. It is not deliberate, but I guess until and unless some character requires me to change my body structure, I won’t be changing it. I enjoy playing normal people who have ordinary bodies. You know the kind of characters we meet in our day-to-day lives. These are the kind of characters I have also grown up watching in films like Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikander and many more. I think audiences can relate to such characters. And stories appear more authentic. You can’t really imagine struggling writers (Sulemani Keeda) or start up founders (Pitchers) having bulked up bodies. Of course someday I would love to play larger than life characters too.
Since you tend to underplay a lot, how do u keep a check while performing a dramatic scene like “Sar jhukhao aur kaam karo” (in TVF Pitchers)?
I am also discovering the process myself. Bhatt Sahb had once said that “Don’t give me a great shot. Rather give me a sincere shot”. Somehow it has stuck with. So when I am giving a shot I try not to impress, but keep it real. Everything else depends on maker and writer. If product is good you will end up looking good as well. So don’t try to hog the limelight. If the director is happy, I am cool. So far this has been the approach, I don’t know about the future.
For ads you can’t really prepare for the part because sometimes you don’t really know what you are supposed to do till the time you’re on set. But most importantly, since I want to do films and have still not come across a script good enough to commit myself long term to it, ads are like my bread and butter. 1-2 days of shoot, which gives you good money, is the main reason I do them. Also they do help you keep on honing your skills.
In the short film INT. Café – Night, you are playing a younger Naseer. The bushy hair does give you some resemblance, but did you work on any part of your body language to make the two characters look more similar?
The director and I did discuss this. I don’t know if people noticed, but there is a scene where I am biting my lips, which Naseer Sahb also does. It was very subtle, so most people have missed it.
What are the upcoming projects we can see you in?
There are two more web series I am doing including Pitchers II. Then there is a short film titled Pure Veg, which co-stars Saba Azad and has been directed by Aman Dahiya, who has assisted Amit Masurkar on Newton. This should be out by 10th August. And I hope the two web-series are also out pretty soon.