It's Not Easy Being Deepika Padukone in India: Vikrant Massey
Vikrant Massey talks about his journey from TV to film, Irrfan Khan and the 'Chhapak' controversy.
Vikrant Massey has been delivering project after project. The actor delivered a critically acclaimed Cargo. Massey also captured the audiences attention with projects like Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitaare and Ginny Weds Sunny where he played a Punjabi boy from Delhi.
The Quint caught with the actor to talk about his journey from television to films and why he think the public discourse in India has deteriorated over the years.
In some sense, you started with TV, right. How did that come to you and what was the one major learning you understood about different kinds of mediums? Because TV is very different from films.
Ya, I started off with television. I very precisely even remember when. One Diwali evening, I was out with friends having dinner at this beautiful place called ‘Out of the Blue’, which is at Pali Hill in Bombay. And Diwali night, it was packed and we were there. My friends and I had just started earning so we wanted to treat ourselves. Outside the washroom area, I bumped into a lady named Dipti Kalwani. She was the creative head for one of the shows for Star Plus and she told me that I really want you to come and audition for us. We are making a television show. I honestly did not pay too much heed to it at that time because I was really enjoying my stint with SDIPA. So I went and met them and they told me that I will be paid such and such amount of money per episode, I was like ‘wow’. I was like 'My father is not making so much money that I am being offered'. So I immediately lapped it up and there were reasons for me to take it up. If we specifically talk about ‘Balika Vadhu’, that show also happened accidentally. I was called to play a cameo for three months, and people liked it so much that I ended up doing that character for two-and-a-half years. I was very lucky to be privy and watch these stalwarts like Anup Soni, Surekha Sikri, Satyajit Sharma and Rajendra Gupta and all these guys. They are veterans when it comes to theatre. There was an unsaid understanding between all these senior guys that no one got their phones on the set. So it was ingrained in me and I realised those few hours that we see as screen time today, that those few hours are so crucial for us while we were away on our phones. That became my discipline on the set, even today. The floor where I am shooting on, where the camera and set up is, I don’t carry my phone. Television is a daily medium. You have to make 20 minutes of edited footage a day, which is a hundred minutes a week. So you’re making a film every week. You really don’t have the time and the leisure to sit and prepare. There are times when we get the script straight on the set and you’ll get just two or three takes.
Vikrant, you’re a millennial actor, a part of being an actor today is associated with the numbers you have on social media. Does that play a part? Have you had people tell you that you have to be more active? You have been told that you have to pay attention to social media because it’s a part of the game?
Yeah, there have been people. If I clearly recall two, three years ago after ‘Death in the Gunj’ people were like we really think you need to engage with people on social media. It was not something that I absolutely brushed off. It was something that I thought about and attempted doing things that were expected of me. But that didn’t come naturally to me and I exhausted myself really early. Twitter for me is the vilest public platform on Earth. I think it’s ridiculous. The idea was to educate and inform, to make knowledge accessible to all at the click of a button, but today we know what’s happening on Twitter. So that’s a strict no for me and everyone in my house. Why do I not get papped is something I was asked on a very regular basis. I said it’s because I don’t call the paps, I don’t want to be shot, I don’t want to be visible. I am happy with the life I lead. I want to act in films and I am getting to do that. I am getting to collaborate with directors people aspire all their lives to work with. So I really don’t think I would want to change my recipe.
When ‘Chhapak’ was about to release we saw this controversy spark. A lot of people called it a publicity stunt and a lot of people also stood by Deepika Padukone. What happened in the background? Did you have a conversation about it? We saw ‘Boycott Chhapak’ trend and we knew this was Deepika's first film as a producer, so it was a message out there.
I was privy to what happened. But there are certain things that are very private and personal and are not meant to come out in the public domain and I think this happens to be that grey area. All I can say is that it was unfortunate for all of us, and especially Deepika, to go through it. It was her film a producer, it was my big film and the larger idea of the film was compromised if I can say because of this narrative that was out. But I think she’s a fighter. She has seen worse. It’s not easy being a Deepika Padukone in a country like ours. Threatening to cut of her nose to boycotting her film, I think she’s extremely strong and she’s always walked out of it with her head held high.
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