‘The emotion of love is the same, but we have made it a math calculation, messed up and complicated.’
Vicky Kaushal has had a crackling year.
The actor, who debuted with Masaan, has emerged as one of Bollywood’s most talented young actors.
With brilliant performances in Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi and Rajkumar Hirani’s Sanju behind him, Vicky is now ready with Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyaan.
Ever since the Manmarziyaan trailer released, people haven’t stopped raving about Vicky, who plays a Punjabi character named Vicky Sandhu aka DJ Sandzz — a blue-haired, music-loving, commitment-phobic guy.
Vicky remains charming and humble even as he flashes his smile and apologises for the delay.
The actor was working hard overnight for his first action film, Uri.
Vicky recaps his journey from Masaan to Manmarziyaan, and tells Rediff.com contributor Urvi Parikh, “If I go out and realise that people aren’t noticing me, I will get my hair coloured and start dancing to loud Punjabi music to get their attention. Behind closed doors, I still do that.”
You have five releases in 2018. Clearly, this is *your* year.
It feels surreal and overwhelming.
My mom asks me how I feel, and I tell her that I feel normal but there are these jitters sometimes.
At random times, I have this sudden urge to scream my heart out.
I want to release this happiness.
What is the biggest compliment you got this year?
I was in Serbia shooting for Uri when my dad called.
He was in London.
He told me, ‘You know what happened today? Someone introduced me to a third person saying, “He is Sham Kaushal, Vicky Kaushal’s father”.’
That was my moment of the year.
That’s how I describe 2018.
It was the best moment for dad and me.
People have been very sweet. They have loved me as Kamli as well as Iqbal.
Earlier, people had asked me if I was sceptical to do that role in Raazi and then they couldn’t stop praising me!
I feel validated as an actor.
Is it taxing to get into such different characters?
Whenever I am done with a film, I try and empty the cup.
I clean the slate, so that I go with a new mind to the new movie.
Then I let the next director fill the cup with the vision he has.
People loved you in Love Per Square Feet and Lust Stories. Will they get to see you in any more Web series?
Nothing as of now.
My hands are too full with films.
Currently, I am busy with Uri followed by Takht.
Whenever there is something exciting, I shall surely do it.
Do you know anyone like Vicky Sandhu in real life?
If you visit Punjab, you will see many Vicky Sandhus.
It is no big deal to see a blue mohawk hairstyle.
When I was roaming in Punjab with this look, no one gave a damn! (Laughs). It is normal.
In fact, when we were shooting for Manmarziyaan in Amritsar, I had to attend a cousin’s wedding in Hoshiyarpur, which is two hours away.
I felt shy, I wondered what people would say — ‘Dulhan ke bhai aise neele baal leke aagaya!‘
So I wore a cap and went for it.
Later, when I removed the cap, I thought my brothers would criticise my hairstyle.
Instead, they advised me how I should colour some more strands of my hair.
So I witnessed many DJ Sandzz characters in Punjab.
Pop culture may have vanished in India, but it’s very much there in Punjab; the youth follow it.
Are you commitment phobic like Vicky Sandhu? Or do you have a girlfriend?
I don’t have a girlfriend, but this is a very rhetorical question — I will say no to it even when I am married! (laughs)
I will come to the commitment part later.
Before that, let me tell you about the vibe and basics of DJ Sandzz’s character.
He is my alter ego.
If I go out and realise that people aren’t noticing me, I will get my hair coloured and start dancing to loud Punjabi music to get their attention.
Behind closed doors, I still do that.
Taapsee often tells me, ‘Tu gas ki tarah kyu phail raha hai? Kahin toh ruk ja (you spread around like gas, you should stop).’
So I would tell her, the director has asked me to ‘phailo.’
And the commitment part?
I won’t say I am commitment phobic.
A lot of people say the definition of love and emotion has changed for today’s generation.
But the emotion hasn’t changed because even today when people fall in love, they feel the tickle.
Everyone wants to do something special.
But in today’s times, the approach to love has changed.
After introspection, I have realised that we have a habit of asking a lot of questions.
First, we ask questions and then think whether to do it or not.
Will we be compatible?
Do we understand each other?
Is s/he the one?
After these questions, we give it a try.
We have a lot of terms and conditions and by the time we arrive at the conclusion, tab tak the emotion has died up.
Instead, commit first and then see the other things na.
The emotion of love is the same, but we have made it a math calculation, messed up and complicated.
Love is simple, but we add our complications to it.
What reaction have you got for the Manmarziyaan trailer?
The best reaction is that people say Kamli has finally got his ghapaghap! (Laughs) (Vicky refers to his character from Sanju and his phrase for sex.)
I had to get DJ Sandzz out of my body.
And I feel so happy because I felt liberated after doing this role.
I enjoyed it thoroughly because it could be me.
How was it working with Taapsee Pannu and Abhishek Bachchan?
I don’t remember how it started, but when we bonded, it was bhayankar (frightening)!
Abhishek and I are Ramji types.
Taapsee is the Hanuman between us (laughs).
For me, Taapsee and Abhishek were like fire and ice.
On one hand, I had Taapsee, who is like a fire bomb, absolutely unpredictable and we don’t know what she will do next.
I have never been to Delhi, but I know all about it, thanks to Taapsee. She is a chalti-firti Delhi… apne andar pura Delhi basa ke ghumti hai (She is a living Delhi). (Laughs.)
And she is a very spontaneous actress. All her takes are different.
Because of that, as an actor, I was very alert. We could exchange the same energies.
Both of us believe in spontaneity.
Both of us believe in not rehearsing the scene too much or else, we would lose its essence.
On the other side, we had Abhishek.
I am talking more about Taapsee because I had more scenes with her.
I didn’t have many scenes with Abhishek.
How was your bonding with Abhishek?
Very good. I met Abhishek for the first time after he was on board for the film, at Karan Johar’s Christmas party.
He said something very beautiful — ‘Your parents and mine have worked very hard for years. We are getting the fruits of their blessings. Now it is our turn. I am glad we are working together. Let’s make the best of it and make them proud.’
That is how he is.
That is the energy he brings to the table.
He respects everyone around him.
In the midst of chaos, he will ask you, ‘Did you have your food?’
What is your most memorable scene in Manmarziyaan?
There is a scene where I hit someone with a vessel. It’s in the trailer also.
When we were shooting it, the vessel that I threw hit the ground and hit me back just above my eye. I got a cut.
It started bleeding, but I didn’t know that.
When the shot got over, the doctor was called and I got three stitches.
That scene is in the film too.
Luckily, it was my last talkie scene of the film, so Anurag was also happy (laughs).
Your brother Sunny Kaushal debuted with Gold. As brothers, are the two of you competitive?
No. Mom, Dad and I went for the screening and we were moved by his work.
It was a good film.
Also, from my journey, mom and dad have always told me that ‘You will not understand our happiness’.
When we went home after watching Gold, I told my parents I understand that emotion now.
I understood that happiness after I saw Sunny in Gold.
No film of mine has given me the happiness that Gold gave me. Seeing Sunny being appreciated was amazing.
After the screening, Shabana Azmi asked my mom, ‘Kya khilate ho apne baccho ko? (What do you feed your children?)’
That was the kind of happiness in our family.
Sanju-Kamli are the new-age Jai-Veeru. How do you feel?
Really? This is a big compliment.
It feels very good.
The award is a token, but the audience relating to Kamli is the best.
A fan wanted to click a picture with me. I said yes, so he got his friend and said, ‘He is the Kamli of my life.’
When I heard that, I felt so happy.
I am very grateful to Raju sir and Abhijat sir (Joshi, writer) for keeping that faith in this new boy.
This has changed my life; I am indebted to him.
How has Uri shaped up? And how excited are you to begin Takht?
We recently wrapped up Uri. It is a physically grilling experience — be it action or military training.
I haven’t done anything so taxing.
I am very excited about this because it will be my first action film.
Takht is like a dream come true.
Whenever someone asked me about my dream role, I would say I don’t have a role in mind but I want to do a period film.
I wanted to be a part of a world that doesn’t exist now.
And to get to be a part of that movie with the best of the best, you feel blessed.
With Uri, you have explored action and with Takht, you are getting into the negative space…
(Interrupts) I will not comment on Takht.
How do you choose your films?
I don’t do a lot of calculations; I listen to my gut feeling.
When I listen to the narration, I listen as an audience, whether it will be worth Rs 300 (the price of movie admission).
That is step one.
If it passes, I will see who the director, the producer and actors are, and the story.
From Masaan to Manmarziyaan, have you changed as a person?
The answer to this question can be given by the people who are close to me.
But yes, I have evolved.
I am happy that I got to work with such amazing people. I got to grow as an actor and as a human being because of that.
Rajkumar Hirani, Anurag Kashyap, Aanand L Rai… they are so humble despite their achievements.
So then, who am I?
People like them teach you to stay grounded.
My confidence has increased; I have become more aware of my strengths and weaknesses.