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‘Abhay 3’ is already an established franchise and has a very loyal fanbase, says actor Tanuj Virwani

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1. Take us through your next show ‘Abhay 3‘. What attracted you to the role?

The fact is that it is already an established franchise and has a very loyal and avid fanbase. That was a great starting point. As I have always maintained, the script is king. When the script and the character came to me, I started thinking about it and I figured there was a lot of scope for performance, there was a lot that I thought I’d be able to do with the character and of course who doesn’t want to work with Kunal Khemu, Ken Ghosh sir and also Zee5. It ticked all the right boxes and when I got to know that my dear friend Divya was also on board, it was cherry on the cake.

2.You have managed to create a niche for yourself in the OTT space, was it something that you planned consciously because you realised the potential of this platform early on?

It’s most certainly not something that I had planned. When I became an actor there were basically two options. Either be a film actor or be a television actor and I was adamant to make it as a film actor. The OTT space was non existent at the time. I think I was lucky when Inside Edge happened because that was the first big homegrown content in India that was made. Luckily it did very well and opened up many more avenues for me. As my career progressed, so did the OTT space by leaps and bounds, so it’s a very exciting time to be an actor. I am extremely grateful for the interesting work and exciting characters coming my way.

3. Take us through the shows that you did in the OTT space and what did you draw on for each character that you have played. And what was about these characters that attracted you to them?

I think the script for Inside Edge was really well detailed & I’m a cricket fan too. I think it was the perfect storm. I got to play cricket and a cricketer, basically 2 things that I absolutely love. When it comes to Poison, I always wanted to do a revenge saga. I have been a massive SRK fan right from Baazigar and I felt something ‘Baazigar-ish’ from Poison, So I was drawn to that.

Code M was a very interesting role for me even though I was a supporting character in that, The role was extremely fresh at the time, also getting the opportunity to work with Jennifer was at the top of my list. For Kamathipura, I had never played an out and out negative character prior to that. It really helped me to get outside of my comfort zone and flex my acting skills, physique and lingo. The same goes with Tandoor. I tried to transform myself physically, I gained about 12 kgs to fit into my character’s big shoes. I had never essayed a real life character prior to that. I wasn’t entirely a negative character but it had massive shades of grey. I have to say Rashmi has been one of my favourite co-stars to work with. Murder Meri Jaan feels like my holiday project. I had not really dabbled into comedy and I am of the belief that the tragedy of the character is comedic for the audience, That’s pretty much what was happening with my character. It was a lot of fun jamming with the entire cast, especially Barkha. Most of our scenes were together. I think we have good chemistry, and we had a good working rapport with each other. That was a little detour from the more intense & heavy roles that I have done. Cartel has been a passion project for a long time. There is something a lot of people say, that it’s a crime saga. For me, Cartel is all about family first. In fact, I joke with my friend that it’s a ‘Hum Aapke Hai Kaun’ with gangsters. It was a tailor-made role and most certainly a role of a lifetime for me. There is something very ‘Michael Corleone’esque’ about it and how the character grows with the events unfolding around him. It was extremely gratifying for me to portray the role on screen as an actor. Illegal, also one of the shows which I joined a bit late. I joined in season 2. Terrific star cast, whether it’s Neha, Piyush Mishra, Akshay Oberoi & so many of them. Loved working with Samar Khan as well. I had never been a part of a courtroom legal-based drama show before so it was really exciting. As we come to Abhay, it’s a twisted character. Love really does make you do some crazy things. It was very fascinating to explore how someone who looks completely harmless on the surface can have such a dual life. The duplicity of the character was what really attracted me to Kabir in Abhay.

4. The one role which has made you a favourite with your fans is of Vayu Raghavan. How did you land this role and how did you go about essaying it in the three seasons of the show?

It’s definitely a role of a lifetime. I auditioned for the part and luckily Karan and Anshuman and folks at Amazon thought that I was worthy and capable of essaying the character so that’s pretty much how it happened and you know it’s interesting because this is one character I’ve essayed now for three seasons. As you said it’s the longest and it’s happened over the period of five to five and a half years. So u grow as an individual, you grow as an actor and I think my journey of growth and evolution has been almost hand in hand with Vayu. He’s the hot-headed guy who plays just for himself to become a team man to become the captain of the Indian cricket team, so it’s a role that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

5.What are your passions other than acting?

Well, I do love cricket in real life as well. A lot of people say it’s only because of the Inside Edge but the fact is I’ve been in an absolute cricket pop. I love watching movies, I love superhero comic books, I love collecting statues, I love spending time with my family, with my dogs. I love sneakers, a lot I love cars, so ya basically all the things that boys love, no surprises here. I do love writing. A lot of people don’t know that but I really enjoy writing, sometimes fiction, sometimes thoughts and the hope and intention is to set up a sustainable career at some point in the future where I act, direct and write and just do it all. Let’s see.

6. You are an industry insider but do you believe that it has never worked in your favour?

Of course, I mean, being a star kid, it is easier to gain access early in your career. I would imagine because of my famous mother’s audience they would meet me. After that you have to find your own path and sometimes there are lots of hurdles. But it’s okay I think that it also makes you hungrier and makes you a better actor. It makes you want to succeed at any cost so, I have absolutely no regrets, you know that there are so many people from our fraternity who are doing well. There are people who’ve come from outside from different parts of the country, from different parts of the world who are doing a fantastic job and at the end of the day if the audience can connect with you and the work that you do on the screen and your work resonates with them, they will come. You’re born with your last name but you have to create your first name and I think that’s what I’m trying every single day, every single shot and every single time I’m on set.

7. Do you still want to do films or are you concentrating on doing only OTT shows?

Oh absolutely I mean, the end game is always to do substantial work be it on OTT space or films. I think being part of the big screen is a pinnacle for any actor. Anyone saying otherwise is lying through their teeth because there is no experience that can come anyway close to sitting in a dark hall with three, four, five hundred people watching yourself on the big screen. I think it’s the ultimate high and I’m happy to report that I’m already in the process of getting back on to the big screen. I have completed a couple of films, I’m not at luxury to speak about them right now. I can’t make any announcements but you’ll be hearing some on that very very soon so stay tuned.

8.What can we expect next from you?

Well, after Abhay 3, we’ve got the second season of Code M, which a lot of people including myself are excited about. Then I’ve got a show with KK Menon, who I’m a massive fan of its called Murshid, I play a police inspector’s son in that. Completed a film called Jonny Jumper with Vijay Raaz, Brijendra Kalra, Zakir Hussain, and Zarina. I have 3-4 other things but I’m not at liberty to speak about them currently but most certainly you’ll be hearing announcements soon.

 

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