Tanuj Virvani talks to NIKITA WADHAWAN about his new venture, working with senior actors and more…
After going through a lull in his acting career, Tanuj Virwani is back in a web series Inside Edge produced by Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar. With the initiation of a new format of storytelling, Bollywood has finally got a chance to do away with trademarks, something Tanuj misses. “I missed the songs and dream sequences as I am very filmy. But we couldn’t incorporate it into to this format. It would be very bizarre; all these matches are happening and suddenly there is a song in between,” Tanuj said. Although just three films old, the actor says that with working such experienced actors helped him grow professionally.
How did you get involved with this project?
l I didn’t pitch for myself and it wasn’t a meet and greet thing. I auditioned for this. I got a call from the casting director and initially, I was a bit hesitant as I was not sure I wanted to do a web series. This was a year back and at that time the whole buzz about web series was not as big it is now. Anyway, I went for the audition and I guess they liked it.
Tell us something about your character?
l So, I play this brat star cricketer and you get to see through his eyes what the ups and downs of this game are, both, on and off the field. Even though he is very talented, he is not very focused.
There were a lot of speculations that your character was based on Yuvraj Singh, as even your character is named Yuvi?
l I think those comparisons are natural as my character is of an up and coming star player; the look, and my physicality have been modelled on them. So, I think the similarities end over there, but from a character’s point of view, I don’t think there any similarities.
What type of personality traits did you try to incorporate into your character?
l I have been a huge fan of cricket since the 90’s. During that time you had people like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, and Rahul Dravid who were very calm. I wouldn’t say laid back, but their body language was subdued. The guys today, with the advent of T20 cricket have become very aggressive in their approach, they have a certain tashan about them. Seeing them on the screen you try and imbibe whatever you can for your character.
Did do any extra research for your character or enacted from memory?
l I did try to speak to people who have been closely associated with the sport like former cricketers. I wanted to try and understand what their mindset is.
You are also playing a guy who is very charming. Was that easy or difficult?
l (Laughs) It was ok. If I start categorising everything as easy or difficult then it won’t work. Whether I had a scene on the field or off the field, I was playing a character, so I just had that mindset and then went with the flow.
Since, Farhan is an actor as well, how advantageous it was having him as a producer?
l I think that was the biggest advantage. Having a producer who is also an actor helps, as he understands things that probably only actors would understand. Acting is not a normal nine to five job, so having someone like Farhan on board is great. He can sense what you are feeling as an actor and puts you at ease.
Any scene or incident that was very memorable during the whole shoot?
l I had a six-minute-long scene with Vivek (Oberoi), and he is someone I have always looked up to as an actor, since his initial days of Company and Sathiya. So, to share screen space with him was very memorable. Another one was when we shot in the international cricket stadium in Pune, which was with a real crowd, which you can also see in the trailer. The thrill to come out to bat in a real stadium, with real public and everyone cheering for you, it just transcends from being just a performance to something very real.
The trailer gave the audience a shock. Do you think that the audience might be hesitant as they are not used to this?
l I personally believe that what works on this platform may not work on any other screen and vice-versa. You have a lot of liberties when you are releasing something online, especially with respect to time, you get to sketch out your character a lot more. Also, the subject here is quite scandalous and controversial. We are not here to create a shock value or put certain scenes into the script just to draw the audience. We are trying to show a dramatised version of the sport.
Who did you connect with the most during the shoot?
l It is weird, but by the end of the shoot, we all used to interact with each other like our characters. Angad (Bedi) is the captain on the show and I am under him. We also have the same equation with him. I look up to him and seek his advice.
After a lull career-wise, are you hoping for Inside Edge to jump start your career?
l Well, that is the plan. I don’t worry much about what the end result is going to be. What I can try and do is give my best performance as an actor. So, if my work is appreciated then that will lead to more work.
Any other project to look forward to?
l I haven’t signed anything as I have been very busy with the web series. Since, I have a specific look in the series, even if I met with other producers they will say that jab aapke baal vapas aa jayenge tab aap milna humse. I had to take this risk as you have to look very different to stand out.