In an interview with SAURABH TANKHA, actor-director ROHIT ROY says he just hopes the situation during shootings changes at the ground level to ensure safer work environment for everyone around
What’s been up with Rohit Roy?
The last one year has been hectic — shooting for Mumbai Saga with John (Abraham) and Sanjivani on Star and travelling for the play, Ovee. Then Covid-19’s arrival. A couple of weeks into the lockdown and I decided to shoot films at home with my wife, Manasi (Joshi Roy) and me. Our only requirement — good stories! And the response of this effort — Locked In Love, an anthology of five short films — has been stupendous. I restart shooting for Mumbai Saga’s last schedule later this month. Thereafter, I start working in three new web shows. Looking forward as for now, digital space is the one to explore!
When did the idea of Locked in Love strike?
One day, over a cup of coffee, I asked Manasi if she would be up to shooting films at home. Since both of us got excited about the idea, I reached out to my creative collaborator Ritika Bajaj. She sent me a script for a short film and that’s how it all began. What started as a project to remain busy through quarantine turned out to be a unique format of programming — two actors performing different roles. To say we are excited would be an understatement.
When was the first time that Rohit Roy decided to be an actor?
I never wanted or decided to be an actor! It just happened that I got a call for an audition and got picked for the first one. I was assisting Kunal Kapoor to become a director. Once I had auditioned for Shashi Kapoor who told Kunal about me being talented. It gave me a fillip and I guess that’s where the bug hit me for the first time.
What was the reaction of your family about your decision?
My brother, Ronit, wasn’t too happy. He always had dreams of my becoming an IAS or IFS officer. Also, he himself was struggling at that time and was concerned as to how would I survive or even break into this industry. But we did. Two outsiders, 25 years-plus and no mention of nepotism once. My mom was happy although she wanted to me to complete my MBA. She has been my biggest support and I owe everything to her.
I loved playing Vardhan in Sanjivani 2. In my filmography, it will most certainly go down as an iconic character
Why, for you, is Vardhan in Sanjivani 2 special?
When have you seen a villain get so much love from audiences? I was surprised. He was cool, he was cold, he was almost possessed but audiences lapped up Vardhan and gave him justifications by saying he’s doing it for his sister. I made life miserable for the lead actors. I used the good Dr Anjali’s love, I berated Mohnish Bahl’s character but came out smelling of roses! If that’s not epic, what is? Most importantly, I loved playing Vardhan. In my filmography, it will most certainly go down as an iconic character. The last one was Rishabh Malhotra in Swabhimaan. It took me 25 years to play another one!
Over the last 25 years plus, what transformations have you observed in the industry?
A couple of things need to change. First, the conditions in which we shoot. Dismal really! Dirty, filthy locations! Zero sanitisation! Second, the 12 hour shifts! I strongly recommend 10 hours max going forward. Actors are a privileged bunch but think about spot boy who is the first to arrive and last to leave. He has a 14-16 hour day, is the least paid and, travels for two-three hours so when does he sleep and get time for family? The other thing that needs a rethink is why does one become an actor? Most actors I see on TV nowadays are more interested in their hairstyle than acting. Name one actor who you can look at and say, ‘Wow! what a performer!’
The good part is that commercials have become better and security is higher. It’s still skewed in favour of a handful of big names but the playing ground is still better than films and gives employment to so many more people. The other good thing is that the stature of TV has become better than films. The adulation received by TV actors, if not at par, is certainly not less than film actors today.
You underwent a physical transformation earlier this year. How difficult is to motivate yourself?
When you have a goal, the road to it is easier to follow. I started my transformation six months before I started shooting for Mumbai Saga as I didn’t want to get lost in the frame with John. Also, this is the most interesting role I have played in a movie. When there is no goal but to sustain gains like during lockdown, it becomes difficult to stay on the course. You tend to cheat a lot. My mantra is — Cheat! It’s human! Just put that cheat day behind and get back on track! Your goal is a better you, every passing day! Look at yourself in the mirror and admire your gains and seek more! Then it becomes simple. Vanity plays a big part so don’t disrespect it.
My mantra is — Cheat! It’s human! Just put that cheat day behind and get back on track! Your goal is a better you, every passing day!
When will we get to see a full-fledged movie or a web series directed by Rohit Roy?
Direction is my true calling. I’m doing everything towards starting my film in 2021. Inshallah…
Is it a boon or a bane when there are so many people from the same profession around?
A boon, most certainly! I love talking films with Manasi and Sharman!! They are the real actors in our family. They are from a bona fide actor family, having watched their dad and uncle rule Gujarati theatre and been acting since they were kids. Ronit and me are the outsiders even here!
Does it happen that if you do not get meatier roles, plump assignments or are not invited to parties, a feeling of insecurity seeps in and you get into depression?
Of course, that’s human nature, isn’t it? I always wanted to be invited for a Filmfare award but they never invited me after the first couple of times because I don’t matter to them. I don’t blame them. The day I perform, they will call me. It bothered me earlier but not anymore because I realise it now that it’s all give and take. I have nothing against awards and was happy when I won the Dada Saheb Phalke International Film Award for supporting actor for my debut Gujarati film, IMA Gujju! 138 entries and I won! To answer the last bit of your question, it doesn’t always lead to depression. We mustn’t use this word so carelessly. Yes, it might make you sad or despondent not to be included or invited but depression is an illness, not just a feeling. One that sometimes spirals out of control if not treated in time.
TV, movies, plays, web series: The medium you find close to your heart and why?
Theatre! No question. When I enter the stage, I can feel my pulse getting stronger. TV and films have their own charm but I want to excel in theatre! I can’t wait for things to normalise so I can start my new show with Raell Padamsee’s Ace Productions.
You have been critical of media and said “media should stop fanning these conspiracy theories.” What made you react like this?
It’s not just media, it’s people too. An unfortunate incident taken apart by everyone with or without agendas. Think about the family waking up to different stories everyday about their beloved son. The media is only interested in eyeballs because other than corona and Sushant, they have nothing to talk about. Some channels and digital news portals have been downright disgusting in their reportage. I read a line which said: He didn’t look depressed. What the f**k is that???? Who looks depressed?!?! Conspiracy theories galore without substantiating anything. First blame Karan Johar and Alia Bhatt. Then the system. Then realise there’s foul play so forget Karan-Alia and train your guns on Rhea. Then someone else, it goes on! I am glad the case is now with the CBI. Hopefully, people will shut up. Let them do their job and the truth will emerge. Just so sad that in all this, we could not mourn or even pay homage properly to a rising star! The star who actually beat the ‘system’.
You are a Bengali who was born and brought up in Ahmedabad and now stay in Mumbai. Is there a connect?
Love for food!!! Ha! Ha! All the three communities love their food and are proud of it! I love Gujju food and always say you can take the man out of Gujarat but can’t take the Gujarati out of the man! Also, all three states are rich culturally and have great tradition seeped in their local cultures.
Photo courtesy www.rohitroy.com