<Interview by: Sailesh Ghelani>
We thought we’d get actor Gulshan Devaiah, who makes playing bad look so good, to give us a bit of a lowdown on his next film and one of this season’s big releases: Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Ram Leela also starring Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh.
But poor Gulshan has been a tad anxious leading up to the release since he’s only going to be watching the final cut a day before its opening. He usually gets antsy about his performance in a film even though he’s always gotten great reviews for his acting in films like Shaitan and Hate Story.
1. I read you hurt yourself doing a stunt on Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Ram Leela. Don’t they have a safety expert or stunt guy on set?
Oh I got hurt while running. Of course they have safety equipment and an experienced action crew but injuries can happen from small things like if your shoes are too tight or you twist your ankle or something. I took some impact on the arch of my right foot as I landed slightly right side heavy on a relatively harmless jump. I was wearing boots and the soles didn’t absorb the impact. I again took impact on my right knee while I was running (there was lots of that).
I was running on sand and that can be tricky. My knee was swollen and hurt when I tried to run or bend. Ice packs, good old Relispray and some painkillers helped me through the action scenes. It took a good four weeks to recover properly. Thankfully, the MRI came out clean but it did need some therapy.
2. You’ve said this about your role in Ram Leela: “I am playing a negative role… a man who is very proud of himself, egoistic, angry and a complex character. I thought I won’t be able to pull off the role, but luckily I managed to.” So which of those characteristics do you possess in real life?
Oh dear, well, I am a bit complicated as a person but not like Bhavani (his character in Ram Leela). His complexities are more hidden. They are not very apparent. All of us have pride, anger and egos but Bhavani has them in abundance. Well I am ambitious, proud and I have an ego but not to a fault. His ambition, pride and ego lead to his villainy. Bhavani is not evil; he has as much good or bad as anybody else except that his bad is more centre stage.
3. Is it a bad thing to be stereotyped? Some of the greatest actors in Hollywood and Bollywood have played say a ‘negative’ role all their lives and gone down as classic, beloved actors.
Well bad or good I am not afraid of being stereotyped. I am conscious of it but not scared. I am confident that I have enough versatility in me to break stereotypes and I am getting those opportunities as well (Hunter, Cabaret). Shah Rukh Khan made his way in to our hearts from Baazigar and Darr. He broke the stereotype of the leading man and broke it again when he was getting stereotyped as the negative hero/anti hero (in DDLJ and so forth). Stereotypes are bad if it makes you believe that this is all you are. No, I am not afraid.
4. Someone once said it’s easier to play the bad guy. Is that true?
No. Was it me? I get this feeling I might have said something stupid like that. No. Acting requires work and preparation. Some of these come easy and some take time. Maybe it’s easier for someone to play certain roles because they relate to it or their skill set is more suited to those roles. It’s never easy to start with for me but once I figure it out then it’s a walk in the park. Well, mostly!
5. You won’t be doing evil characters in your ‘two-film deal’ gig with Pooja Bhatt. Tell us about that.
I don’t believe I have ever played an evil character ever in my life. I’d like to play the devil incarnate someday and come full circle. In Cabaret I play a crime journalist who is… rather difficult to get along with but is bloody good at his job.
It’s going to be my version of the classical ‘brooding and tough yet sensitive enough type of a leading man’. Hope that makes sense. I can’t say anything about the second film except that in it I am a cultured, chivalrous gentleman from a very high society family.
6. What makes a film a ‘big ticket’ (which you said Ram Leela was for you) for an actor?
Firstly, it’s a Bhansali film. It’s a big, expensive movie and it’s getting a big release. If rumours are to be believed then it has more than 3000 prints worldwide and it’ll play big on the TV too. I’ve never had a release so big. When I signed this movie I said to myself: “Now I get to play in the big leagues. Have fun.” In this business we don’t get to climb the steps unless we prove that we are worthy. Luck can only do that much the rest is blood and guts. That’s why I said it’s my ‘big ticket’.
7. Ranveer Singh has sculpted an awesome physique hasn’t he?
Oh yes, he looks good man. He was very disciplined through the filming. His trainer was always with him, he worked his ass off on the set and then he trained, ate all his prepared meals on time. If anybody knows anything about bodybuilding then they know that it’s hard work. Ranveer’s waist came down to 28” and he was ripped in 6 weeks. His physique is an extension of his personality. He and his body both work so well for the film. Kudos to Ranveer.
8. One word to describe Deepika Padukone…
9. What was it that made Sanjay Leela Bhansali cast you in Ram Leela, he must’ve mentioned that ‘special something’…
I really don’t know and I didn’t ask. I think he liked my energy or perhaps he had an instinct about me. Who knows…
10. Describe your part in Ram Leela in one stirring sentence.
Bhavani is a wolf who dreams of becoming ‘The Lion’.
PS: Due to some ridiculous (as usual) issues with the title of the film being regarded as ‘religious’, Ram Leela which was originally Ramleela is now called Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ramleela. It is actually a film based on Romeo and Juliet and not about Lord Ram.
Here’s a twitter conversation about Gulshan’s state of mind on the day he was going to watch his film:
Watch the trailer for Ram Leela: