Interview with Vardhan Puri

When Yeh Saali Aashiqui released, tinsel town took notice of Vardhan Puri, first and foremost, because of his mature performance in his debut film. People also took notice because this was an experienced actor, whose grandfather had some of the most iconic roles to his credit. When Amrish Puri’s grandson came into the industry with boatloads of experience, people knew this was a talent to watch out for. Theatre, assistant directing, writing…there are many hats he wears. He chats with Armin about that moment he knew he wanted to be an actor, his favourite role of his grandfather’s, and more: 

I want to start off by asking you about your theatre background, the lineage you have with your grandfather (the legendary Amrish Puri), your experience as an assistant director with Yash Raj Films – but when did you know acting was the journey you wanted to embark upon?

I was very young and I was always performing. It was my dream that one day I would also act in front of the camera. When I used to do theatre, I was offered films as a child actor but I was not allowed to do them; my grandfather thought it would not allow me to study. But I did tell my parents that I wanted to act in films and act in front of the camera. To understand how filmmaking works, I became an assistant director. While being an assistant director, I also used to keep auditioning and screen testing. That’s how started training to be a film actor, because before that I was trained to be a theatre actor. Between testing and training and meeting people, that is how the journey started.

Growing up with such a legend, Amrish Puri, being such an icon on screen in some of the biggest films, was there a certain character that stuck with you, that left you in awe of him, that you go back to time and time again?

I’m in awe of all of his work. He’s done fantastic work but if you ask me one character which really hit me the most was Raja Thakur from the film, Virasat. He’s amazing in that film. For me, it is a highly inspiring film. I found him to be very honest in that film. That film always makes me extremely emotional. It shows me the importance of a character to a film. It is a two hour odd film and my grandfather is only there in the first half but he makes such an impact in the film. 

Apart from that, I am a huge fan of Mr. India. I love him in Ghatak, Ghayal…I mean, I think he’s my favourite actor for sure. But if I had to choose one film, I would for sure choose Virasat; it is my favourite film of all films. 

We are seeing more and more actors do some behind-the-scenes work before coming in front of the camera. What is the “value added” in doing such work? What has been your biggest learning lesson?

I think it is amazing, it is like going to film school but even better because you’re doing things hands-on. For example, for me, as a part of my journey, I did a lot of dealings with actors, doing lines with them, ensuring they are fully prepared, getting them into character. So, I knew the surrounding before I went and starting acting. In film acting, you have to realize that there are other people as a part of your journey. There is a lot of technique involved – that kind of technique and that kind of discipline that only be learned on set. It was a creative blessing for me to be able to work with India’s most premier film studio and that too, doing three films with them. I think any actor, before coming before the camera, must assist a filmmaker. If you enter a field which is completely alien to you, it will take some time for you to warm up. And in films, you just don’t have the time to do that – it is very unforgiving that way. Everything can be based on your first film. Assisting will really prepare you – for directing, producing, writing. The moment you understand what filmmaking is about, you are more prepared as an actor.

You received a very positive response with your debut feature film, specifically about your emotional response. We are seeing fresh faces dabble in genres that are not necessarily ones typical of a debut. Tell me a little bit about the choice for your first film, the acting process, and the writing process – what did you take away from your first film? 

My director, Cherag Ruparel, has assisted with me at Yash Raj Films and early on, we had decided that we wanted to work together. We had pitched a bunch of scripts to various studios and those did not get made because they were very big in scale and no producer was willing to put so much faith in debutants. 

This film was one that was high in content and would not break the budget, so we went to Mr. Jayantilal Gada and he really loved the script. We started planning but we started also watching a lot of reference films. We read up on psychology. We went and visited the Central Jail, in Uttar Pradesh. We spoke to the police, and people who committed some crazy crimes. We got to know what went through their heads when they committed those crimes. We did a lot of research before we started writing; it ended up taking us 17 months. It was very prudent but also very satisfying, working with Cherag. 

The acting process – it was a lot of workshop, we wanted the right “sur” (tone) of the film. We had a lawyer on board, we had a psychiatrist on board. Our pre-production took a while but it was an extremely satisfying process.

And what’s on the table next?

I am very excited to dabble in various genres – comedy, drama, action, horror. I am just excited about entertaining.

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Armin Sethi

Bollywood Film Fame Canada has been a source of original content consisting of real conversations, reviews, and news of everything film, music, and entertainment for 15 years.

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