If you ask Vikrant Massey what being a star is like, he’ll be the first to tell you, with a good-spirited chuckle, that he’s “still a few years away from stardom”. Whether ‘star’ or not, he has certainly proven himself to be an actor you must look out for. In the last few years, Vikrant has given us nothing but robust performances: from his Hindi film debut in Vikramaditya Motwane’s Lootera, to Konkona Sensharma’s A Death In The Gunj, and more recently, Mirzapur, Cargo and Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare. He even has a large following from his television days, most notably from mega-hit Balika Vadhu. Anupama Chopra was joined by him for an insightful, honest session with the members of Front Row about his approach to being an actor, as both a craft and a career.
Here’s our pick of some of his best takes (join us on the Front Row for all of them, and more!):
1. The First Thing To Remember
“As actors, when we were given scripts earlier, we were so excited to read about our own paths… The first most important thing is that you are just a part of the puzzle— everybody is a part of the puzzle. There are so many screenplays where you may not be in a scene but an actor will set the bar for your next scene. They leave a sur (a note, or a tone). Where that scene ends can be where yours starts. So, understanding things in their entirety is very important… Understand the larger picture or reason why you’re making that film or series.”
2. Practices He Follows on Set
“(Not carrying a phone on the set) is one of my ten commandments, and it’s one of the most important things I do, which I realised much later in life why it works for me, and for other people… The first reason I don’t carry a mobile on set is that it is a massive distraction. An actor’s job is not just what he or she does in front of the camera. Our actual job is what we do in the vanity van or what we do when the cameras are not rolling.”
3. The Power of Observation
“I like sitting and observing things around me. I am not a trained actor. I try to imbibe things that I see around, that I experience, that I feel. There are times when I’m doing absolutely nothing and am blank in my head… In those times, if you see someone, or something strikes you, and you really want to use that in one of your characters, I think that works for me… the moment I start reading my script again, something or the other – that is exciting or new – keeps popping up, even if I’m reading a line for the 30th time.”
4. Acting: Listen. React. Breathe.
“The most important thing is listening…. be present at the moment… There are days I still feel nervous. Your breathing goes completely haywire under the camera. You could be nervous about anything, for hundreds of reasons. But if you try hard and listen to what the other person is saying, but not just as a dialogue, then your breathing will fix itself, and your reactions will fix themselves… Acting is everything between the words spoken. It’s not just about telling your lines. It is about processing what the other person is saying… about reacting. And that will only happen when you’re listening to the other person properly. Your breathing will become what it needs to be for that character there and then.”
5. How He Thinks About His Characters
“I have always spoken about relatability, or representing the times we are living in… Earlier 20 years used to be a generation, now it’s cut down to 14-15 years now… These are very exceptional times, and one has to update ourselves… A lot of things change from character to character but I have always told myself that I want to be that uncomfortable truth staring down your face. Those are the characters that I like. I like conflict. We live in a conflicted world. I want to represent that… I want to penetrate your defence mechanism, I want you to experience my character, to experience the story.”
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