New talents Vikram Massey in Lootera, Shriswara from D-Day are to watch out for
A great performance never goes unnoticed and also raises the bar of acting.
Debesh Banerjee and Sankhayan Ghosh of Indian Express pick and meet this season’s notable performers.
Instant Recall: Dev, Lootera
His Story: The 26-year-old grabbed the part in Vikramaditya Motwane’s Lootera, after the production team had already auditioned 700 actors. “I was nervous. It was my first time at a film audition,” says Massey, who plays Dev, Ranveer Singh’s friend.
Massey always wanted to act. After pursuing a degree in Economics, he attended dance workshops at Shiamak Davar Institute of Performing Arts.
In 2005, he got a break with TV serials (he was much appreciated in Balika Vadhu), which paved the way for his acting career.
While working for NDTV Imagine’s Dharam Veer, he received an audition call for Lootera.
“I did not have any roadmap for entering Bollywood. I saw Udaan and knew what Vikram is capable of. I knew I had to work with him. If this film hadn’t worked, I would still be doing TV serials,” says Massey, who is currently a part of Zee TV’s Qabool Hai.
Industry Verdict,/b>: “In this film, he found his voice. Even though he has done TV before, his approach was different from other TV actors. TV actors tend to become very mechanical in their approach to acting. But he stood out for his versatility,” says Atul Mongia, associate director, Lootera.
Future Projects: Currently in talks with Nigam Bonzan, a director of photography, who is making his first film. But for now, he says, “I am content doing my TV serial.”
Instant Recall: Nafiza, D-Day
Her Story: The ease with which she performed neck and neck with Irrfan in D-Day would make one assume that Shriswara’s acting skills are a result of either a theatre background or a film school polish.
But all that the girl from Lucknow has acted in, before playing Irrfan’s demure Pakistani wife in D-Day, are advertisement commercials.
The acting bug bit her in childhood — she is a die-hard Shah Rukh Khan fan and her father is a lifelong Raj Kapoor fan — and she finally embarked upon pursuing her dreams only after completing her education in California Academy of Mathematics and Science, USA. About her self-trained acting capabilities she says, “I have a lot of interest in psychology and I guess somewhere it intertwines with human emotions and acting.”
Industry Verdict: “We wanted someone who doesn’t have any image, and we looked for actors from Iran and Pakistan. She is the kind of actor who would sit beside you in real life, without letting you know she is acting,” says Nikhil Advani, Director, D-Day.
Follow Up: Currently in talks with directors.
Instant Recall: Misha, Ek Thi Daayan
Her Story: The innocence and believability of her performance (along with another superb child actor Vishesh Tiwari) made the fabled childhood backstory of Ek Thi Daayan the best portions of the film, but Sara Arjun is no newcomer to movies. Her mother describes her as “more shy in real life than in front of the camera.”
Sara has acted in over 150 commercials, and a number of Tamil films — she debuted on the big screen playing Vikram’s daughter in Deiva Thirumagal.
Currently, her academics and acting are nicely poised under the watchful eyes of her parents.
“I got scared shooting the scene where the daayan appears in the elevator suddenly because Vishesh deliberately did not tell me. I screamed and spoiled the shot. But once I knew the scene, it happened in one take,” says the eight-year-old, who would like to direct Aamir Khan in a film someday.
Industry verdict: “She is incredibly intuitive and can get into the mood remaining completely unfazed by her surrounding. She was the finest actor we auditioned. And when a tragedy happens to a girl like her on screen, the impact on the audience is naturally bigger,” says Kannan Iyer, Director, Ek Thi Daayan.
Future Projects: Mental with Salman Khan and a couple of Tamil films.
Instant Recall: Choocha, Fukrey
His Story: Varun Sharma was sure from the start that he wanted to be an actor. “During my school annual days, my parents would put me on stage and make me dance. I enjoyed it,” remembers the 23-year-old from Jalandhar, who received praise for his role in Fukrey.
During his undergraduate days, Varun Sharma was involved in street theatre and honed his skills at the Indian Theatre Department of Panjab University. But his fortunes opened up after he came to Mumbai on an internship. He did 10 TV commercials during that time.
Varun Sharma was drawn to Fukrey’s character because of its resemblance with his real life persona, besides the added perks of working in a Farhan Akhtar production.
“It was a dream to get the first break with a big production house. People look at me and still respond to my character,” he says.
Industry Verdict: “He fit the part of “Choocha” perfectly. What you see on screen is what we saw in his audition as well. He is very hard working, completely dedicated and a sincere actor. Before signing him on for the film, we asked him to lose 10-15 kilos within two months and he did it,” says Ritesh Sidhwani, Producer, Fukrey.
Future Projects: An Anubhav Sinha film. “It is a bit funny, but it has a different shade than Fukrey,” says Varun Sharma.
Instant Recall: Maitreya, Ship of Theseus
His Story: The moral dilemma of his character in Ship of Theseus has translated into a delicious irony in actor Neeraj Kabi’s life.
While Maitreya, the ailing monk in SOT denounces modern medicine as a means to protest against animal cruelty, Kabi is currently consuming meat in medicinal doses.
“Losing 17 kilos in three months for the role damaged some of my body tissues and muscles permanently. I have been advised to eat meat as medicine,” says Kabi, 46.
A known name in Mumbai theatre circles, Kabi is an actor, director and trainer (of acting techniques and martial arts). Ideologically driven much like his screen character, Kabi stayed away from the commercial trappings of the film industry, saving his soul for the “opportunity of a lifetime,” which is what SOT turned out to be for him.
Industry verdict: “Neeraj is a rare talent. His commitment and integrity are unparalleled. It became increasingly evident to me during the auditions that I won’t meet another actor who can beat Neeraj in the intellectual, emotional and physical dedication required to play the part,” says Anand Gandhi, director, Ship Of Theseus.
Future Projects: Monsoon Shootout, Shyam Benegal’s Samvidhan. In talks with Dibakar Banerjee and Vishal Bhardwaj.