Vikrant Massey is back to work even though the pandemic is far from over. And it’s a crime thriller, Love Hostel, that progresses at a breathless pace. As Vikrant sits down for a breather, we fire the first salvo…Excerpts:
Love Hostel… That’s an intriguing title for a film revolving around a young couple being hunted down by a ruthless mercenary. What can we expect?
Well, first and foremost it’s a love story set in the hinterlands. It’s written and directed by Shanker Raman who had earlier made Gurgaon, my first film with him, Bobby [Deol] sir and Sanya [Malhotra]. You can expect a lot of love, action, drama and thrills.
What’s been the reaction to your last outing, Haseen Dillruba, and your character Rishabh Saxena aka Rishu?
Surreal! The film was trending all over the world… In Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia, and of course, India. Aisa lag raha hai ki yeh ho nahin raha hai, par ho raha hai (It feels like this can’t be happening, yet it is). Rishu and Rani are ordinary people caught in an extraordinary situation and how they respond to it. It’s seldom that you come across an opportunity where as an actor you get showcase so many different shades in one character.
Tell us about the climax shoot, that must have been quite a challenge?
The whole sequence leading up to the crescendo was detailed as we needed to justify what was to come, and filmed over a fortnight. The climax itself took seven to eight days and was emotionally and physically taxing. I was underwater for an entire day, on and off for 12 hours, couldn’t use a part of my body and there was prosthetics involved. (Laughs) So, yes, it was quite a challenge, but I have always wanted to play a grey character.
What’s the most dramatic thing you have ever done in love?
I travelled to Bangalore in the morning and was back in Mumbai by night, only to set out for the Garden City the next morning to meet the girl I was seeing and return home again the same day. This happened when I was in college and the two-day round trip was both exhausting and exhilarating. That apart I’ve had a normal, middle-class life with some great moments and the usual Rose Day rejections (Laughs).
Did your family like Haseen Dillruba… Your fiancée, Sheetal Thakur?
(Laughs) My family is very biased, they like everything I do. Yes, she liked it as well, but I wouldn’t like to discuss my personal life.
How much like Rishu are you?
Oh, my life is very different and thank God for that. (Chuckles) It’s simple, with few complications.
Has the pandemic changed life?
I have become more patient. Not that I would plan a lot earlier, but now I have learnt to live in the moment and prioritise health and family. We’ve lost too many to Covid and now I want to spend more time with my parents and friends. At the same time, how long can one sit at home bina kuchh kiye (without working)? We had left Love Hostel incomplete and last week, we resumed shooting with all the safety protocols in place.
How would you want to help those in need during these difficult times?
I feel strongly about education, because my niece is a pandemic child. So many people have lost their jobs or taken a salary cut and can’t afford to send their children to school anymore. So many kids have lost their parents to the virus and they need to be protected. As elders it is our responsibility to ensure that these kids go to school, that they don’t lose an academic year. We could pay for their books, their school fees, help in any way we can. I don’t have an NGO of my own, but I have been lending support in my individual capacity.
Meghna Gulzar’s Chhapaak with Deepika Padukone was a window to the struggles of an acid attack survivor. Is there any other social cause that you would like to touch on through a film?
Education. If something comes up on the importance of education, particularly with respect to the girl child, I would lap it up.
14 Phere releases digitally…
(Cuts in) And it’s the polar opposite of Haseen Dillruba, about two people who want to be together. It’s an out-and-out entertainer (releasing on Zee5) with a message that you can pick up and make your own.
Having worked in two films revolving around marriage, what’s your take on it at a time when the pandemic has resulted in a record number of divorces?
The pandemic may have led to several divorces, but it has also brought many couples together. I believe in the institution of marriage… I believe that love is the most pure and selfless emotion.
There’s also Mumbaikar, a remake of the 2017 Tamil action thriller Maanagram...
I’m looking forward to that one; my first association with Santosh Sivan. There’s also Forensic, the official adaptation of a Malayalam psychological thriller by same name. It’s with Vishal Furia, who directed me in Criminal Justice, another legal drama with me as an investigative officer.
Any of your series going in for another season?
Most of them are, from Mirzapur to Criminal Justice, but I am not part of them. Unless I feel I can add value, I tend to lose interest and don’t leap into things.
So, what do you see yourself doing in the future?
I aspire to direct. I also write. I pen down my thoughts and observations, spin stories, have even written a few scripts that I would like to develop.