“I have vague memories of going on excursions with Pa when I was a kid–I’d keep posing on the way & Pa kept photographing me. He’d say, ‘Ek din ye actor banega.’
I was creative–I did a lot of plays & practiced contemporary dance. Pa motivated us to do what we liked. He’d say, ‘Education isn’t everything–I want you to live life to the fullest.’
But at 11, Pa passed away. I was too young to understand what losing a father meant; I just knew that if he were alive, he’d want me to pursue our dream.
So I sent out my photos to casting directors. The very next day, I was called for an audition! At 15 I believed, ‘it’s Pa who’s making this happen.’ So, I dropped out of school; within a week I was shortlisted for the lead role–I moved to Bombay.
Coming from a close-knit family, staying alone was hard–I felt lost. Even on set, people taunted me for my acting skills. 6 months later when the show shut down, I went back to Delhi not knowing if I’d ever return.
But I got another show & at 16, I signed my first movie! Although thrilled, I was also apprehensive. But after noticing a man in his 50’s who’d come to set everyday asking for work only to be sent away, I was humbled. I learnt to give my best.
But during post production, the movie was shelved. For 2 years, I waited but it never saw the light of day. I was left with no opportunities; I even put on 14 kgs. But I refused to go back home–Mom had told my friends & relatives; I didn’t want to let anyone down.
So, I started from scratch & then bagged Dear Zindagi. After, Hichki & The Sky Is Pink happened. I was nervous while working with Priyanka, but she said–‘You’ve gotten this part because you deserve to be here. So just go for it’; it boosted my confidence.
While promoting the film, Mom said, ‘This feels like a dream,’ & I knew I wanted to continue doing things that made her believe that.
Then, when my film was screened at the Toronto Film Festival, a woman told me, ‘Your role shifted something in my heart.’ It felt surreal.
Still, when I see actors chatting with their fathers during screenings, I miss Pa terribly. But I know I’m living his dream–the one where he knew in his bones ki ‘unka beta actor banega.’”
This article is brought to you by Humans of Bombay