'I'd rather be underrated than overrated': Ranvir Shorey opens up on not getting his due
'I can definitely do with more success. I can do with more of the perks that so-called stars get in this business,' says Ranvir Shorey, who is back on screen with the second season of Eros Now’s sitcom Metro Park where he plays Kalpesh Patel.
Mithiya, Sonchiriya, Khosla Ka Ghosla, Titli, Bheja Fry – just some of the highlights of Ranvir Shorey’s career-spanning two decades would make most actors envious. And, yet the 48-year-old is consistently described as an underrated actor. Does he think he is under-appreciated? “I’d rather be underrated than overrated,” he quips during a phone conversation from Mumbai recently. And, after a long pause, adds, “I can definitely do with more success. I can do with more of the perks that so-called stars get in this business. I am not just talking about money and fame. In fact those are things that I am not talking about at all. I am talking about the ability to green-light scripts. I wish I had the ability to say 'this script should get made' and just by me saying that the film would get financed.”
Shorey is back on screen with the second season of Eros Now’s sitcom Metro Park where he plays Kalpesh Patel, a fresh-off-the-boat Gujarati NRI. He runs a corner store called Pay & Run in New Jersey, USA and lives with his wife Payal (Purbi Joshi) and their two kids. There is also Payal’s younger sister and new mother Kinjal (Vega Tamotia) and her IT geek husband Kanan Menon (Omi Vaidya). The actor describes the new season as ‘bigger, better and crazier’. “You get to see more of the family, their aspirations and more of their cultural conflicts.” When creators Abi Varghese and Ajayan Venugopalan first approached Shorey for the show, he was reminded of Hitesh, the newly wed from Ahmedabad he played in Reema Kagti’s Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd. “In that film, I thought my character got cut short too early. I didn’t get to explore it enough. This material resonated with me so I grabbed it with both hands.”
Between the two seasons, the cast also got together for a one-off quarantine special last year. While most actors who shot in their own homes during the COVID-related lockdown describe the experience as frustrating or enlightening, Shorey was thankful for his 360-degree training at the beginning of his career. I had worked both in front of and behind the camera. Even my diploma was in film and video production. Though it had been a while since I had to anything other than acting, I was familiar with it.”
He might look at himself as more an of an actor-filmmaker but Shorey is not in a hurry to dip his toes into filmmaking any time soon. “Till I was 26-27, I was only working behind the camera, for the next five years or so I was doing both. It was only after I was 33 that I became a full-fledged actor.” Until he feels that itch to tell his own story, Shorey is happy lending his expert eye to others. “There are many great stories being made. There are many talented directors out there who need the help in realising their visions. I enjoy the process of filmmaking, and that's a collaborative craft. In fact, what I'm good at is taking something and making it better instead of coming up with something.”
It’s this single-minded focus on making things ‘better’, especially within the entertainment industry that possibly propels Shorey to ask questions to the powers-that-be and share his experiences with his 224.4 K followers on Twitter. Just over the past year he took a jibe at independent filmmakers, called out ‘self-appointed gatekeepers of Bollywood and critiqued the nepotistic ways of Bollywood award functions. In the last few years, there’s been talk about a need for systemic changes within the industry and Shorey believes keeping the pressure for long enough is the way to get there. “It's very rare that you'd see systems changing overnight. It's always a slow and gradual process. As a society we have to keep up the pressure. And when you do that for long enough, you see change.”
Streaming platforms are slowly but surely changing the entertainment industry. More than anything else, these platforms have levelled the playing field. “You don't have to kick out a small film because a big film is coming. Films of different sizes can coexist,” says the actor, who is currently prepping for Santosh Sivan’s Mumbaikar that goes on the floor next month. The inverse effect of this popularity is that the call for censorship of these platforms is getting shriller by the day. While Shorey is categorically against censorship ‘because we need to move towards a more open society’, he is also quick to say, “creators need to take it on the chin if they have made gaffs. You need to own up to what you have created. Like what’s happening with the latest controversy, you can't take it easy on one community. If there are biases, the creators need to own up”.
(All images from YouTube)
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