How Vicky Kaushal wowed Bollywood
The actor is shining in Manmarziyaan which released this week.
Published: Fri 14 Sep 2018, 6:39 PM
Last updated: Sun 23 Sep 2018, 1:54 PM
He can be bashful - a fast-vanishing quality among movie actors today. Before the camera, though, he can segue into roles that demand total swag and even a touch of the demonic. In fact, this year has, unarguably, proved to be a triumph for Vicky Kaushal, who has straddled the diverse worlds of independent and lavishly-budgeted Bollywood productions. In 2018, he has been an integral part of the top cash earners, Raazi and Sanju.
Plus, he has made an impact in Karan Johar's episode for the Netflix film Lust Stories and the whimsical romedy Love Per Square Foot. And, there's been his scene-stealing act - quite apparent even from the pre-release promos - in Manmarziyaan, co-featuring Abhishek Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu.
Perhaps the 30-year-old actor's USP is that he has stayed grounded, without becoming starry and unapproachable. His performance as Kamli, the supportive NRI buddy of Ranbir Kapoor in Sanju, fetched him unanimous rave reviews, besides establishing him as a household name. Logically, he should walk away with the Best Supporting Actor trophies, come the awards season.
Till Sanju, he was essentially associated with arthouse cinema following Neeraj Ghaywan's sensitively-narrated Masaan (2015), which picked up major awards, including the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes.
The actor's filmography has swelled ever since Masaan, and to think he had started his career with bit roles - featuring a bit more prominently in the gritty Gangs of Wasseypur (2012) when Rajkummar Rao made an exit, ostensibly because of creative differences.
Was Vicky Kaushal destined for stardom? Not really, since the son of action director Sham Kaushal was chronically shy during his childhood. When I meet him in person, he reminds me, "You know my father was handling the action scenes for Fiza - some 18 years ago. For the first time, I was allowed to visit a shoot because I kept pestering dad for an autograph of Hrithik Roshan. When I was introduced to Hrithik, I froze. I didn't have the nerve to speak, but he was sweet enough to sign an autograph book for me. Ever since that day, I had this secret dream of becoming an actor myself."
Dad Kaushal, who had ventured to Bollywood from a village in Punjab, wasn't sure his son could go through the grind. Vicky studied electronics and telecommunications engineering. After a shortlived stint at a desk job, he quit. Next, he served as an actor and assistant director in Anurag Kashyap's Gangs of Wasseypur. Today, he smiles: "But like water finds its own level, I couldn't keep away from the film world. So here I am."
He doesn't shy away from blending into a meaningful project's woodwork, affirmed by the fact that he took the backseat to Alia Bhatt in Raazi. Enacting the newly-wedded husband of a young woman who turns out to be a spy, he was correctly restrained. Result: a gallant performance that didn't strive to hog the limelight.
Moreover, Vicky appears to believe in doing his homework - call it method acting if you will - when it's needed. Portraying an aspiring singer in Mozez Singh's Zubaan (2016), who starts stammering after his father's death, he worked with a speech therapist before the shoot commenced. Once the film was wrapped up, he had to struggle to get out of the character. "For months, I kept stammering," he rewinds. "Perhaps one has to draw a clear line between acting and reality. My family was worried. I was okay after a while. Still, I wouldn't ever hesitate to take risks."
Recently, he was grievously injured in Siberia while filming Uri, an action thriller based on the real-life attacks on security forces in Kashmir. That isn't new to him, having seen his father down with broken bones while performing daredevil stunts in the course of an action director's career.
The upbeat news is that star-maker Karan Johar, on being impressed with his acting chops in Lust Stories, has confirmed Vicky Kaushal for a powerful role in Takht, a period drama with a star-studded cast toplined by Ranveer Singh and Kareena Kapoor Khan.
On the personal front, the actor has been linked by the grapevine with model and web-series actress Harleen Sethi. If anyone tries to confirm that, he turns beetroot red, murmuring, "Oh, I've gone through so many heartbreaks that my only comment can be 'no comments'."