Free Press Journal

‘Raazi’ actor Vicky Kaushal: The charm lies in the uniform


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Says Vishal Kaushal who plays a military man in the recently released Raazi. Shubarna Mukerji Shu speaks to the actor about his experience on working with two talented women, his journey, and more…

Vicky Kaushal is touted to be the next big thing after Rajkummar Rao, he is steadily making his way around tinsel town and has already moved on from Richa Chadda and joined, Alia Bhatt’s league. Of course, the leap is grand and the movies are happening in full blast, what does Vicky feel about his journey? Let’s find out…

Your character has been described as the silent one. What was your interpretation of it? How was it getting your head around the book? Did you read the book?

It is based on a book, but its too widespread. So it was decided, that we will stick to the script and work around that only. What happened with the people, what is written in the book, I haven’t read it. Because I wanted to be true to the script, so keeping the script in mind, the situations as it was written in the script, I pegged my character.

Iqbal Saeed, the character I play, comes from a military family. He is the youngest in the family, and is married off to a Kashmiri girl. This is all happening right before the war in 1971. So while the atmosphere is pulsating with tension, politics, impending war, Iqbal has to tussle between his relationships, as well as the pressures around him. What I particularly liked about this character was his dichotomy. He is a military man, discipline is ingrained in him, but he has a softer side to him. For instance, he loves music, poetry… its beautiful to have that within that military exterior.

How was it playing a military man?

I might not be able to put it properly, but it is a fact, the charm lies in the uniform. The second you wear the uniform, you become it. Something about the medals on it, makes you walk straighter, look tougher, I guess. Playing a military man, wasn’t the challenge, it was getting to understand the workings of his mind. Also, the one thing that we made certain was that we get the diction and the talk correct. We didn’t want the Urdu to be in your face, but we needed to make it look conversational and casual. We actually discussed each and every line of the dialogues, to ensure that it looked correct and not forced.

Agreed the uniform brings with it a charm of its own, but what is your connect or experience with the military, we hear you shot a lot around the cantonment area…

Yes, while we were in Patiala, we shot a lot in the cantonment area. We met a lot of wonderful people. I so distinctly remember this one night when we finished shooting, they said they would like to host us for dinner. So we all got together and chatted up, listened to their fascinating stories about their training days and such. It was amazing; we didn’t even realise it was four in the morning by the time we decided to wind up. For us, the next day was a holiday, but when we asked them, what they were going to do, the chief rattled off their day’s routine. They were supposed to start their 25km run within the next hour, then go over to some other routine checks, etc… we were so sorry to have kept them up so late, but they just shrugged it off saying, we live in the today. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. We don’t know when will the papers be carrying our photographs, labelling us a martyr. So it is best to make the most of it today. Their words, their spirit remained with me.

Tell us how did you land this role. Did you audition for it?

Yes. It so happened that I got a call from Karan Johar saying, Meghana would like to meet you. So I went over to Dharma and met her. She read out the premise of the film, and we discussed two scenes. After that, she suggested we do a screen test, because they wanted to see how Alia and I would look together. Alia was there at Dharma, and we did the scenes together. The next day I got a call from them saying, they want me on board, so they shared the script, etc., and asked me to see if I felt the same way.

You worked with two women on Raazi, how was it?

I worked with two awesome women on Raazi and it couldn’t have been a better experience. Meghanaji, is one director I really wanted to work with for a while. I loved her film Talvar. She is one of the most gutsy directors we have. She is fabulous. She lives her films, which makes the journey for us actors, really enriching. I have always been a fan of Alia. She is a great performer. She is fabulous as an actor and also as a human being. What is amazing is how she doesn’t let her stardom come in the way of things. I doubt she thinks of herself as this huge star that she is.

Tell us something about Alia that no one knows…

I didn’t know her at all before we met on the sets of Raazi. So I cannot really have any kind of revelations about her, but one thing about her that really got me, was how mature she is as an actor. She is a young little girl, who is very Alia when you meet her on the sets, without the camera rolling. But once the director says action, she just transforms. She becomes someone bigger than herself. Her knowledge of the craft will amaze you.