Abhimanyu Dassani may be new on our screens but he is not new to hard work and dedication. In Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota, which premiered in Midnight Madness at TIFF, and won accolades therein, Abhimanyu enacts the role of Surya, who is as endearing as they come. Here’s our chat with Abhimanyu Dassani!
What a fantastic film – I need to tell you, there was something so endearing about your character. But sometimes, in the midst of the most serious scene, your character would take out his tube, and have a sip. Tell me about your character and those nuances.
I kind of see myself in my character. In some ways, I’ve very black and white, like Surya is and the world works in greys. The innocence that Surya projects is like you said, it is endearing, it is the correct word. All I did was keep thinking of myself as a child – I love to play with children and spend time with them and they’re the best actors – crying at the drop of a hat, laughing…so that was such a nice experience.
You went through an entire audition process, despite having parents who were involved in films. Why did you do that?
So, consciously, my parents kept me away from the industry and they wanted me to make the choice of what I wanted to do with my life so I did. I finished my major in Finance and worked for a couple of years. While I was amidst all this, one of the projects that came to me was to be an assistant director with Mr. Sippy and I just fell in love with the energy on set. I wanted to explore it all. One thing went to another. I did some courses on film in New York. When I came back, I wanted to see if I had what it takes to be in Bollywood as well. Sometimes, you think you have what it takes – but not everyone else does.
So I did a lot of auditions, and some films came back to me. at this time, I was not ready to take on a film because I did not believe in myself. While this process was going on, I got a screenshot of a message on Twitter – 18 to 23 years old, needs to know Martial Arts, for the audition.
At that point, I had just started off at a Martial Arts Centre with fifty students. At that time, I had just started off – and I said, why not? So, I went to the first day – it was around 9 am. I didn’t do the audition and went home late evening. I went again the next day, stood in line, and came back again, really disappointed. This time, I had convinced myself that they already had another actor and they didn’t want to take auditions.
So, they guy in charge of taking auditions, actually called my Martial Arts director and he said, if you have any kids who are into acting, we’re taking auditions. So, he came and convinced me. So, I went and gave the first audition. I gave auditions again and again, and again, I would get shortlisted. The fifth audition – I met Vasan sir (Vasan Bala, the director). It was a month long process of auditions – I would spend morning to evening there. But that process, at the end of it, I had so much fun spending time with Vasan sir. He would start a sentence and I would complete it – and vice versa.
The kind of belief he had in me, gave me the power to believe in myself. I always believe that if someone puts you on a pedestal, they can take you down. If I have talent, then my work will speak for itself. Fortunately, he believed in me and I believed in myself and we are here today.
What was it about Surya that struck a chord with you? Sometimes, characters also make you build on your own character?
Yeah, what Surya does is he gives dreams a chance in life. And somewhere, I think I gave this dream of acting a chance in life. All I did, somewhere, I believed in it and went after them. That’s what Surya does. Also, what he does, he does one hundred percent. There is no – yeah, I’ll do it…for the heck of it. That applied to my life as well – I want to do that one hundred percent. I wanted to do that – if I’m eating food, my one hundred percent is there. If I’m doing martial arts, my one hundred is there.