EXCLUSIVE! Vicky Kaushal: Sanjay Dutt’s compliment was my biggest validation

It is a good time to be Vicky Kaushal. After Love Per Square Foot, Lust Stories, Raazi, he is now basking in the success of the recently released film, Sanju, where he plays the pivotal role of Kamlesh Kanhaiyalal Kapasi. Yet, fame doesn’t seem to have gone to his head. Vicky stands with his feet firmly balanced between being someone who belongs to the industry and someone who is only struggling to make his presence felt. Looking nepotism in the eye and shutting down naysayers with an increasingly impressive filmography, Vicky seems poised on the brink of becoming the actor whose films sell because the audience associates it with good content. With the same nonchalance and earnestness that he seemed to possess back when I had interviewed him for Raman Raghav 2.0, he patiently answers my questions over the phone, all the way from Serbia, where he is shooting for Uri.

It is imperative that I start the interview by asking him about the accolades that he has been fetching for his role in Sanju. With notes of humility in his voice, Vicky replies, “Jo sabse reaction mil rahe hai, jo tweets main padh raha hoon…feels extremely nice. You feel like you have been able to translate the character to reach the audience. The biggest compliment came to me from Sanju Sir himself. After he watched the film, he called me up to say he had loved the film; he had loved the portrayal of the friendship between Sanju and Kamli. That meant a lot because he felt like he saw the friendship that he has lived in his life. That was my biggest validation.” (Also read: EXCLUSIVE! Vicky Kaushal has not watched his most successful film Sanju yet – find out why)

Post the film’s release, we are hearing quite a lot about the real-life Kamlesh, who Vicky plays in the film. I am curious to know as to just how much of the character was real, and how much was fictionalised, given the fact that we didn’t really have any reference for him. In response, Vicky elucidates, “Kamlesh is an amalgamation of three-four of Dutt’s closest friends. Primarily, it is based on this guy named Paresh Ghelani, who stays in LA. Sanju Sir and we, too now, fondly call him Parya. I have met him. In fact, while we were shooting, he was in Bombay for a week and had come on the sets, where I met him. He is right now also in Mumbai and has met my family there. Since I am here in Serbia, shooting for Uri, we spoke over Whatsapp and he told me he felt he saw onscreen what he has lived in life. So, that was another great compliment that I received.”

However, unlike Ranbir, who had to emulate Sanjay Dutt’s mannerisms, Vicky sure mustn’t have had to imitate Paresh for his role. I ask him that and he explains, “The character of Kamli is fictionalised in the film. I didn’t have to imbibe his characteristics, or walk and talk like him. He is a Gujarati and we have kept him a Gujarati in the film. But apart from that, I didn’t have to imitate him physically in the film. Because the character is not just him, but a few more of his friends. However, the incidents that take place between Sanju and Kamli have actually taken place between Parya, some other friends and Sanjay.”

Ask him to recall what his earliest memory of Sanjay Dutt is and he chuckles. “I actually met Sanjay Dutt only at last year’s Diwali party, when we were invited to his house and this was after finishing the shoot of the entire film,” he admits. Then adds, “To be very honest, the first time I heard the narration from Raju (Rajkumar Hirani) Sir, I kept asking him, ‘Did this really happen?’ throughout. As the normal janta, I didn’t know details about his relationship with his father, his friends, affairs, personal life and professional life. So, it was like a revelation. I was mesmerised and all I wanted to do was to give Sanjay a hug, after the narration. After that it was only from Raju Sir, who kept telling us the kisse and kahaaniyaanke kya kya hua tha. And, on the basis of that, you form your character.”

Ranbir and Vicky’s chemistry is one of the highlights of the film and that can only happen when the two are extremely comfortable with each other. “Ranbir is such a beautiful human being that you think you have to break the ice…but eventually, you will realise that there was no ice ever. He is that genuine and easy a person. And as an actor, I can’t even…he’s fantastic. He is one of the greatest actors of our generation and there’s so much that you can learn from him. He is a treat to have as a co-actor,” enthuses Vicky.

Speaking about his experience of working with Rajkumar Hirani, Vicky exults, “It seemed surreal and overwhelming that a director like Rajkumar Hirani trusts you with such an important role. It motivates you to keep pushing your boundaries and keep working because when someone believes in you, you want to put your best foot forward.” (Also read: [Video] Ranbir Kapoor makes Vicky Kaushal a part of Sanju success bash, all the way from Serbia!)

Speaking of Sanju, which is a film about a father-son bond, it is mandatory that we ask Vicky about the relationship that he shares with his dad. And, as if on cue, Vicky opens up. “I keep taking guidance from him but he never offers inputs as to how to approach a character. That is a very personal experience for an actor. But he is my bouncing board. Any kind of advice that I need – not only for films but also in my personal life – he is always there. He is a pillar of strength; an anchor,” he declares.

2018 has pretty much been the year of Vicky Kaushal, what with him being a part of four noteworthy projects and another film, Manmarziyaan, that is slated to release in September. Point it out to him, however, and he underplays the whole things with a hearty laugh. When he regains his composure, he says, “I will try to make every year mine, but I don’t have a say in that; it’s really for the audience to decide. Mera kaam hai kaam karna, woh main karta rahunga, baaki kaunsa saal mera hai, nahi hai, I’ll leave that to the audience.”

But when asked to assess his career so far, Vicky is all business as he says, “To be very honest, I am very happy with the way my career is going. I don’t think if God would have told me to plan my career, I would have planned it any better. People have given me credibility, they have showered me with love, both from the industry and the common janta too. The kind of graph that I have is slow and steady. I feel very blessed to have worked with such directors in the three years of my career so far. I feel motivated to do my best.”

So, aren’t solo hero projects on his wish list? “Solo hero projects are of course lucrative but the bigger purpose is to be part of great stories, rather than having a narrow-minded perspective and think only about solo hero projects. Everybody wants to be a part of solo hero projects but that shouldn’t stop one from being a part of great stories,” he reasons.