Vicky Kaushal on his Raazi co-star: 'Working with Alia Bhatt has made me a better actor'
Three years after his much-talked about debut as a troubled protagonist in Neeraj Ghaywan’s directorial debut Masaan — followed by the portrayal of a cop on the edge in Anurag Kashyap’s Raman Raghav alongside Nawazuddin Siddiqui — Vicky Kaushal is gearing up for the release of his first mega commercial project: Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi, opposite Alia Bhatt.
“I was the main protagonist in my previous releases but yes, Raazi has a bigger reach with a production house like Dharma. Obviously they have the means to take it to audiences across the country,” says Vicky, son of ace action director Sham Kaushal.
With Raazi, Sanju (Rajkumar Hirani’s biopic on Sanjay Dutt), Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyaan and Karan Johar’s section in Lust Stories on his roster, this could just be the year for 29-year-old Vicky to crank up the heat. However, it wasn't always easy for the young actor. Post Masaan, he got eight to 10 scripts in a row where the makers wanted to cast him as a UP boy, but he managed to save himself from getting stereotyped.
“I consciously decided not to take up any of them. I was just one film old but I wanted to explore myself as an artiste. I have been blessed also because I got calls from Dharma and Raju (Hirani) sir and received these opportunities to work with them. If someone had told me to plan the next few years of my life, I don’t think I could have planned it better. The happiest place for me is on a film set, and working with Karan Johar, Meghna Gulzar, Anand Tiwari, Anurag Kashyap and Rajkumar Hirani is like a dream sequence," he says, adding "I am also doing a film with Aditya Dhar on the Uri attacks and Surgical strikes of 2016. I will start shooting it one week after the release of Raazi. I am playing a Special Force Indian Commando in the film on Uri attacks. I am very excited as it's my first out and out action film."
Based on Harinder Sikka’s book Calling Sehmat, and a true-life incident in 1971, Raazi is an espionage-thriller and the story of Sehmat (Alia) who crossed the border in 1971 as an Indian spy after she marries a Pakistani army officer Iqbal (Vicky) to extract classified information.
Did Vicky have any inhibitions or prejudices about working with an A-list actress? “Look, it’s the story that drew both Alia and me to this film. Secondly, Alia doesn’t carry the baggage of being a star. When you are talking to Alia, you are talking to the real Alia. There is no farce, there is no playing image, she is who she is, she is so transparent. That’s why I was so comfortable working with her as a co-actor. You just bond instantly (snaps figures) because she wants to give her best and that urges you to give your best. It is a beautiful symphony that you become part of," says Vicky.
He further reveals about how he got the part, “I got a call from Karan (Johar) who asked me to come and meet Meghna as she felt I was suitable for the part. She gave me a gist of the story, narrated two scenes and wanted me to film them so that she gets an idea of how Alia and I looked together. It was more like a screen test. Next day they told me I was on board for the film."
Vicky insists that the film is not just about India-Pakistan but it is much deeper than that. It is about an individual relationship. "It is also about an era when there was tension between the two countries and during that time a Kashmiri woman married a Pakistani Major. It’s about how they make choices at the crossroads of duties and emotions, which will not only affect their lives but also the future of their respective countries,” he says.
So is he playing a character with grey shades? “For that you need to watch the film. As I said it’s not just an India-Pakistan story. It breaks the universal mindset that we have — that people on this side are heroes and those on the other side are villains. It is not about ‘my country is good and yours is evil’. It’s a more human story. I’m playing someone in the Pakistani army who loves his family. It’s where duty comes first and relationships are secondary,” he explains.
What Vicky particularly liked about playing Iqbal was the layers given to his character. “Iqbal is not a regular quintessential army guy, he is also an artist. He loves listening to music and that for me was a lovely layer. There is softness and tenderness [to him] but duty comes first for him,” says Vicky.
Beyond Raazi, Kaushal has re-united with Anurag Kashyap for Manmarziyaan (also starring Taapsee Pannu and Abhishek Bachchan) and he seemed to have a great time essaying a Punjabi character in the film. “Yes, I had so much fun during the shooting of the film. The shoot is now over. We shot for two months continuously in Amritsar and Kashmir. Now it’s in the editing phase and it will release on 7 September," he informs.
Ranbir Kapoor-starrer Sanju is another big film for Vicky, in which he will be seen playing Dutt’s friend. “I am dying to talk about my character (laughs) but I have been told to wait. I'm allowed to talk only after the trailer is out. Some experiences are such that even after you have lived it, you are randomly pinching yourself. It's a dream come true to work with my most favourite director and actor. Ranbir is not just an outstanding actor, with complete control over his craft, but he is also a very secure human being," says Vicky, adding, "I am keeping my fingers crossed and I hope this year turns out to be good for me." So do we.
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Updated Date: May 10, 2018 15:04:01 IST