Pratik Gandhi: Success is not permanent, I come from a family of salaried teachers and I know the value of every rupee – Exclusive! | Hindi movie news
“Scam 1992” changed your life and today you are one of the most sought after actors in the Hindi film industry.
Things have changed a lot. There is a lot of excitement among the audience and the creators, which is overwhelming for any actor. I guess an actor dreams of such a phase where you are approached with good scripts and people have confidence in your job and they want to work with you. I waited for this stage of life for almost 16 years. It’s an exciting time right now. I feel really lucky to have ‘Scam 1992’ as my first national release, in fact it has become international because of the OTT. Since this is a long format show, I had enough time to dwell on the character. And since the character was so well written, I got to play a lot of it and in the end the character was loved by everyone. Even children know the dialogues by heart. This rarely happens these days.
How do you keep a cool head after such a success?
It’s a personal trait. It is your own life experience that teaches you how to deal with such things. Where I’m from, family, education, whatever I’ve seen in life, I know for sure that nothing is permanent. It changes every second, every day and more, my time in the theater has taught me the same. When you do the same piece over and over again you see that one show ends up being too good, where we get standing ovations for 5 minutes and the next show in the same piece will not get any reaction from the audience. This experience taught me a lot. At the end of the day, at the end of the day, we’re humans and I’m here in the entertainment industry to experiment, create new characters, and tell stories, that’s it. I don’t think much of success. It will continue to change with each project.
What cannot change is the zeal and passion I have for the job. I still work the same as before ‘Scam 1992’. Because that’s how I think and create characters. I like to be on stage and in front of the camera. My selection process is also very organic. It is purely based on instinct. If I develop a connection with a script or a character, I want to do that.
How important to you is the stature of the production company supporting a project?
I’m not talking about the name of the banner or the names of the people involved. I definitely want to start with the script and of course who does it. Their vision, the kind of movies they made earlier will give me an idea of how they think about the story and the emotion. If I resonate with the same world and the same character, then I really want to be a part of it.
You aren’t too concerned with big banners, but do big banners care about signing you?
I have a lot of interesting projects proposed by a lot of interesting people. One of India’s biggest banners, T-Series is working with me on ‘Dedh Bigha Zameen’ where Hansal (Mehta) sir is also co-producer. It’s a sweet movie and it’s about a current problem in India. It’s an ordinary man’s story and it’s also relatable and heartbreaking. We will finish filming tonight. I’m in Jhansi shooting for the movie.
After ‘Scam 1992’, were you offered any similar films and projects?
Fortunately, I was not offered anything as “Scam” after its release and everyone was ready to explore new topics and characters with me. So, I am very happy about it. Outside of the brand’s offerings, I guess everyone wants to build on the success of “Scam”. Now that the holiday season is approaching, I have a lot of digital engagement and social media engagement offers.
With great success comes great wealth. How do you handle this new business of life?
It is very difficult to manage. I am an engineer (laughs). Commerce ka koi lena dena hi nahi hai life mein (Commerce has nothing to do with my life). Fortunately, I am Gujarati, and thanks to this I am able to handle a small part of it. I come from a family that has always believed in FD (term deposits). I come from a family of teachers. We have lived on wages. It is for the first time that I see such different characters in life. I have always paid off loans, handled medical emergencies at home. I know the value of each rupee.
Much has been said and speculated about the title change from “Ravan Leela” to “Bhavaai”. What’s the real story?
Previously, the title of the film was “Raavan Leela”. Now they have changed it to ‘Bhavai’. Some people said that the previous title hurt their feelings. But the film has nothing to do with Ravan or Ram per se. He is named ‘Raavan Leela’ for a reason. Once people see the film, they will understand it. Still, changing the name isn’t going to affect or harm our movie, so we’re okay with that.
The intention of the film was never to hurt anyone. It is not at all a religious film. These are two actors who play different characters on stage in Ram Leela. How the outside world perceives this situation and what difficulties these characters go through, the moral dilemma that our country and our world are going through. The point is, it is very difficult for the world to understand the difference between real and real.
Why does the industry compromise every time someone raises an objection?
There is a compromise with the subject and then there is the censor to cut scenes. I think the reason could be that the film industry has a deep reach in society. It is the only industry that reaches every household in India through various mediums. The industry is an easy target for everyone because we have always been open to scrutiny. In the world of social media now, everyone is critical. Everyone has an opinion, everyone wants to lead something or the other. This so-called freedom of expression has taken a very off-beat path.
In the present scenario, where the Internet has become cheaper and people have largely freed themselves from work, we must fight a bigger evil. It’s easy to color someone’s thoughts now. People can scream over their voices labeling something wrong and the common man will believe it. It’s a complex storyline and if you also think from a business point of view, from a directors’ point of view, they are afraid that there will be no backlash against the film.
‘Bhavai’ is not anti-religion. We were talking about Ram and Ravan because they play Ram Leela on stage. People attack actors’ personal lives, denigrate them on social media. But they forget that the actors are human, that they also have a personal life. What you see of them on screen is just their real life. There are many layers to storytelling, and you can’t just go on peeling through every layer and explaining it to these people.
After your foray into Hindi cinema, did you have to unlearn the experiences of Gujarati cinema and theater?
There was nothing to unlearn. It’s just that I had to be more flexible and open. As you move from theater to regional cinema, your canvas grows a bit. Once again, the transition from regional to general public follows a similar pattern. The global canvas is changing. But my approach as an actor doesn’t change.
I don’t think differently for Hindi and Gujarati. Yes, the language and the culture are different, so wherever there are fine nuances, I have to tweak certain aspects to get into the character’s skin. But the process doesn’t change, only the budgets change.
How would you describe the current situation of Gujarati cinema?
Everything is bad at the moment. Once the theaters restart, we should have good attendance in theaters. OTT has also entered the world of regional cinema. My first Gujarati web series ‘Vithal Teedi’ was shown on OHO, an OTT platform for Gujarati content. There are many more OTT platforms that have started now.
What about the Gujarati theater?
He is also going through a great upheaval. I don’t know where or how can we start over with this. Even if we start the theater, it will take some time to get back to the glory days. Managing overheads and resources is going to be tough, but the theater is getting nowhere. It is the only form of living art that we have at the moment.
Will you continue to play in the theater?
Absoutely. I was about to play here in Jhansi as well. I had identified a theater. It was just because of the tight schedule and Covid restrictions that we were unable to put on a show here. By the time I get back to Mumbai and if the theaters are allowed to open, I will go straight back on stage.
What is that change in life that you regret now?
I miss my father. He always wanted to see me in this place, where I am today. And yet, he wasn’t there when I finally arrived. I miss talking to him.