Harshvardhan Rane has done four Bollywood films and has been the replacement actor in pretty much all of them. His recent film, Haseen Dillruba, has finally opened new avenues for him. Harshvardhan, at heart, is still that small-town guy who ran away from home with just Rs 200 and did odd jobs before entering showbiz. During the pandemic, he sold his bike to help people affected by Covid-19. In a candid chat, he opens up about his journey, Haseen Dillruba, and more. Excerpts:
You have become the replacement actor in numerous films. Does that hurt, thinking that you were not the first choice for all those characters?
It does hurt sometimes, to be honest. But then another thought on my mind is that I am being considered for a part after someone, it makes me want to work harder to bring out the nuances of my character. As an actor, you want the director and the producer to feel happy that they chose you. I don't mind being a replacement. Good work matters, irrespective of whether you get the part after someone has been rejected or you have been taken in as a replacement. I am okay with not being the first choice.
Haseen Dillruba has received mixed reaction. How do you see this aspect when critics don’t praise your movie?
I don't think that any cook can make a dish that will be unanimously loved across the universe and across the palate. Similarly, a writer or a director cannot make a film that is loved by all. There will always be a section of the audience that will like it and the others won't. Hence, mixed reaction is to be expected. And I expect a mixed reaction to all films. That's how it should be. If everyone starts giving the same reaction, there won't be any diversity in, not just art, but everything around us. We'll lose out on the essence of humanity and will become machines.
You sold your bike to help Covid-affected people. What prompted this move?
I come from a humble family. I ran away from home at the age of 15-16 with just Rs 200 in my pocket. So, I don't really have that thing where I am writing cheques for charity. My mind works in that direction where I think of converting my possession for someone's benefit. In the past, I have auctioned my outfits from films for charity — the money was used for orphan girls whose parents had died of HIV. During the lockdown, people were scrambling for medical resources, and I wanted to help them. So, I sold my bike. In retrospect, the bike had a purpose, because it helped many souls.
Is it true that you learned English by joining call centres?
Yes, it is true. Between 2002 to 2004, I also worked as a waiter, courier boy, at an STD booth, cyber cafe, and even assisted a DJ when I didn't have money. That time people would say it's important to learn English. It then became my goal to learn the language. I looked around for coaching classes, but I didn't have money to pay for them. So, I joined a call centre. At call centres, they used to give training in soft skills and English. To reach the level of call centre English, I used to listen to radio or CNN UK or CNN America. After five-six months, I cracked an interview. I jumped call centres to get the training and learn English for free; and got paid for it too! Back then, English was of utmost importance. Thankfully, things have now changed. Hindi is also getting the respect that it deserves because of actors like Amitabh Bachchan.
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