Vardhan Puri always wanted to be an actor and, why not? He belongs to a family of renowned actors: Amrish Puri (paternal grandfather), Madan Puri and K L Saigal. Vardhan started out as a theatre actor and has worked in more than 90 plays before assisting director Habib Faizal in Daawat-e-Ishq and Ishaqzaade. He has also assisted Maneesh Sharma in the film Shuddh Desi Romance. Here, Vardhan, who made his acting with Yeh Saali Aashiqui, talks about his illustrious grandfather, entertaining everyone through his work, and more. Excerpts:
You hail from a family of great actors like Amrish Puri, Madan Puri, K L Saigal. One would say acting is in your genes...
I am born in a film family. So, I have seen the culture of film, drama etc. I love acting the most. Some people say it’s in the blood. But I feel one needs to have a passion to pursue your profession. My dad skipped acting while I have been performing since the age of two-three. I would do dialogue baazi and even did a lot of theatre work. I am obsessed with my work, the craft and cinema. I am here to entertain people. It makes me feel good to make them happy.
So, have you inherited any of the acting traits of Amrish Puri, Madan Puri or Saigal saab?
I feel we all are originals. I never tried to speak or act like any other actor. In Tughlaq, my guruji Satyadev Dubeyji told me, ‘Your intensity in the performance was very like Amrish Puri saab. I have huge respect for babaji [Amrish Puri]. I have watched films of Madan babu and Saigal saab — I never tried to copy anyone though. Amrish ji always told me never to copy anyone. Originality is important. The chances of recognition all over the globe are better if you remain original. Anybody duplicating or copying anyone will never be recognised.
Any interesting anecdotes with Amrish Puri that you would like to share?
I remember Babaji [Amrish Puri] had come home late after shooting of the film Mujhse Shaadi Karogi — he played a Colonel in the film. I was awake as I was preparing for my exams. He was hungry. Since everybody was sleeping and he did not wish to disturb anyone, dadu told me, ‘Let’s go to the kitchen and cook something’ — mind you, never in his life had he entered the kitchen. We then tried our hands at cooking for the first time. I Googled and learnt how to cook Maggie and then made some delicious toast with butter on it and we relished our self-made food. By then, it was almost 3.30 am. We also had a cold glass of milk and then I went off to sleep with him. I had this habit of sleeping in between dadi and dada."
What's up on the work front?
I was supposed to shoot a film, but it got cancelled because of the lockdown. I’m praying for the world and India to get into a better situation. In the meantime, I am keeping myself occupied — I follow a strict fitness regime, read books and spend quality time with the family. I also watch shows and films — this is my daily programme. I hope this situation gets better soon.
You also shot a film with director Vivek Agnihotri?
Yes. And, the shoot is complete. The film is called The Last Show — the title might be changed later. It is a comedy film. I said ‘yes’ to the film in no time. I am a big fan of Vivek Agnihotri. There is another film, which is yet to be announced. The shoot was scheduled to begin in the UK, but it got cancelled at the last moment. I am a theatre actor, so I always prefer doing a variety of roles.
Which is your favourite genre?
I love doing comedy — it is fun and liberating. When I was doing theatre, I was known for my drama and comedy. In fact, I messaged so many directors to offer me comic roles.
How would you differentiate acting on the big screen and theatre?
The minutest flicker of an eyebrow must be subtle in the film medium. Theatre and films technically are different but emotionally, they are the same. We express and become a character in both. Theatre is an actor's medium, films are a director's medium, while TV is a writer's medium. Actors get freedom while working for theatre. In films, the director tells you what you need to do and he takes over. Expressions and body language are exaggerated while performing in plays, so that the last bencher can also enjoy in the same manner as the first bencher does. While acting on camera, we need to learn to enact differently for different lenses. A wide shot has to be different. One needs to take care of performing in sync with the camera placing. While in a close shot, you need not be loud with your movements.