Some people say that playing a negative character or one which has grey shades is proof of how just how talented an actor is. Well, Aspirants‘ actor Abhilash Thapliyal has gone from playing a neutral character in the beginning of his career to moving towards playing an antagonist, a drunkard, a calm and composed (and highly inspirational) educator. He has definitely carved a space for himself by playing such diverse characters, and we’re totally here for it!
The actor is undoubtedly a talented individual who deserves recognition and applause for all his work.
So, in conversation with ScoopWhoop, Abhilash talks about his journey as an actor and how he’s approached his characters so far.
From playing an antagonist to an alcoholic, it’s evident that you’ve done several different kinds of roles over the past few years, how does that feel?
I’ve always accepted whatever has come my way. But yes, playing this variety of characters and these different parts, I think it’s pure luck. I never saw myself playing an antagonist, playing a psychopath, playing a drunkard; Because these characters are very different from how I am and how I am also perceived as an actor. I am glad it all happened, people, critics have liked these performances.
You’ve played a complex character in Blurr, we wonder if it was emotionally taxing and how you took care of your mental health and well being while preparing for the role?
Absolutely, Chander’s character in Blurr was very emotionally taxing. It was a complex character which we cracked. I think when your personal life is sorted then it becomes easier to play these kind of characters. When I was playing SK Sir in Aspirants, I was going through personal turmoil. My dad wasn’t keeping well. I used to take him for his treatment and while playing Chander, my mother was going through a massive heart surgery.
That added to the toil of it. So, it was challenging. My family, my wife, my sisters, they are my biggest friends. And whenever I am feeling a certain way, I have someone to talk to. I have people around me who I can talk to and I know they won’t judge me. To have these people around is what helps me personally.
Every actor has a method, or a process on how they align with the mind frame of the character they play. How do you approach the roles you play?
I am not a trained actor, so I am also trying to figure out my own process, my own method. One thing which I have realized, whether I am playing Chander or Roxy, somewhere or the other these characters come from the people I’ve met, their nuances, what I’ve observed.
So, I’ve not passed out of an acting school, I’ve not learned acting in a school, I think life has taught me whatever I do (and still teaching me whatever I’m trying to portray). I try to do it all with honesty; This is my process. I am trying to evolve as an actor, trying to see more, observe more and implement more.
I read in an interview that you’re from Rohini, Delhi we’re curious to know if you have any food recommendations from Rohini?
Yes, I am from Delhi yes, I am from Rohini. But I am not a foodie. My struggles are very different, where people are trying to lose weight at my age, I am trying to gain muscle mass, I am someone who’s trying to gain weight. And this is because I don’t eat too much. But yes, whenever I have time in Delhi, I go to DC Chowk. That’s where I think you can get the best shawarmas (after New Friends Colony) and momos.
Also, Taapsee (Pannu) introduced me to this really nice chhole bhature wala; Om Chhole Bhature Wala, that’s where I go whenever I get time or I feel like eating outside.
You are also a radio jockey. What drew you to the profession, what do you love most about it?
Whenever you’re playing a character on-screen, you are always someone else. I am not Chander, I am not SK, I am not Roxy. You’re playing one character or the other. That’s what usually happens when you are a part of a visual story. But, when it comes to radio, you cannot be a character. Because you have to be on air everyday, four hours.
And playing a character everyday for four hours can take a toll on you. That is one thing that I love about the radio; That people accept you for who you are. You’re paid to talk and play songs! It’s such a cool job. That’s something I love about the radio, just being yourself, talking to people, telling them what you think, listening to them and playing songs.
And it seems you’ve had quite the journey up till now, how has being an actor changed you on a personal level?
Well, I’ve become more observant of people around me, how they behave, what they do. Giving a lot more selfies now! Getting recognized everywhere. These things have changes, but apart from that, I don’t think much has changed. My wife still treats me the way she used to before becoming an actor, my friends are the same. Not much has changed on that level. My mother still scolds me the way she would otherwise. So yeah, my life is the same. Just one thing has changed, I’m giving more selfies.
The film industry has changed quite a lot in terms of the kind of lead characters we’re now seeing on-screen. What do you think about that?
No, I don’t think so. I still think that you have lead characters. You still go to a cinema hall to watch your favourite hero. You still have the concept of ‘Hero,’ ‘Heroin,’ ‘Villain,’ ‘Hero ka dost.’ So those things are still in place and there are actors and there are stars. And, you cannot deny that fact, it has always been like this, and still is like that.
You might have a lot of stories coming out with different characters in them, but the idea of lead characters, the hero, the heroine, is still there. It hasn’t gone anywhere.
We’re seeing a massive emergence of films that are finally mirroring real people, real lives. We’ve moved away from glamor in a very interesting way, what’s your take on this?
I think we always had these real stories, these glamorous stories. A combination of it all. And why not? Filmmaking should be a democratic process. You should have the freedom to tell the kind of stories you want to tell. But one thing has happened for sure, now, with the emergence of OTT platforms you’re getting to see a lot more stories, more real stories than you would’ve before the OTT emergence. That could be the case.
But we’re always telling real stories, we’re always telling all genres of stories. And that’s how it should be.
You’re fairly active on Twitter. You post very thought provoking, and poetic words there, it seems like you’re a talented writer as well. Do you ever plan on foraying into that professionally?
I don’t why, but a lot of people have been asking me this. In fact, I got a call from a very senior director also, he wanted me to write something for him. But no, I don’t think I am capable enough right now, to write. Also, I am focusing on my acting career and that is going fairly well.
I would like to focus on that right now. If in the future, there is a story I want to tell, I might try that. But right now, I think there is a vast difference between writing two lines versus writing 200 pages and right now I am very good at writing these 2-4 lines, so I’ll stick to that right now.
All images are from the Instagram account of Abhilash Thapliyal.