In conversation with Suraj


Q. This is your first film, tell us a little about your experience.

A. Life changing sounds redundant, honestly it was the making that really changed me, I grew up metaphorically…it's just been so much, it's quite a personal, emotional, taxing and at the same time rejuvenating experience.


Q. We have heard that you almost stumbled upon this role. How did it all happen?

A. Basically I was accompanying my brother for the auditions and Dilip Sir (the casting director) just said that you should also audition and I did. I didn't expect anything and I never thought that I did be a part of this. And as the call backs kept happening, I didn't expect anything but I started to want it a lot. I read the book somewhere in the middle of those auditions.

When I was cast I didn't know what to do, I went to my brother because he is the only one who has been in the same situation and I asked him what I should do. He said you have been given the opportunity of a lifetime and it just landed in your lap, you just take it and go for it. Listen to Ang, keep your feet on the ground and stay level headed and stay focused and you will get through it. In a way he gave me the reassurance that I can and I just took a leap of faith, I guess.


Q
. The role is physically challenging. How did you prepare for it?

A. It was definitely grueling; I had to do Yoga in the morning with my dad and Ang every day. I came in as a really skinny, weak kid. I had to learn how to swim because the whole film is under water. I learnt how to hold my breath, initially I could just hold my breath for 14-15 seconds, and then I had to go up to almost a minute and a half.

You know I thought it would be really hard but I had the most amazing family, crew with me, there was complete support. I never felt like the pressure was on me, I always felt the pressure is on us and we have to do it. And they kept me going, they backed me up. Then I became very close with the stunt department, they really inspired me, they amazing people themselves and when you are with people like that you never feel like you can't do it. You feel like it's hard but you can because these guys believe you can and they are amazing at what they do.

And having Ang, he is an inspiration in himself. One would think it pressurizes you but it supports you and it keeps you going, you realize you are not in this alone, you see there are so many people, giving it everything they have, you feel you are part of a team.  And you do your part and just make it work somehow.

It was extremely intense, I had to gain weight and then lose it again, I was on diet of tuna, lettuce and tobacco sauce, if I wanted any flavor. And I did three months of that, during lunch break when everyone was having lunch, we used to train, we used to run on the runway, it was crazy, it was pretty intense. Excruciating honestly but we just kept at it and we kept doing it, we had to do it.

Q. Do you see yourself doing a typical Bollywood 'masala' film?

A. I don't know whether I will do a Bollywood film. I am not sure what opportunities I will get. May be I will become a filmmaker, I want to tell stories. I want to be on the set, being on the set fills me with fire. I love that feeling - different people come and they come together to create something for so many other people to see. It gives me an adrenaline rush and I cannot get over that feeling.