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Vinay Virmani: Shooting for David in slums changed my life

Actor Vinay Virmani has signed French director Jean-François Pouliot's new film after receiving rapturous pre-release accolades for his performance as a street musician and the youngest protagonist i

Vinay Virmani: Shooting for David in slums changed my life

The David actor, who made his debut with Breakaway, is also planning to turn director soon. But before that, he will work in French director Jean-François Pouliot’s comedy Doctor Cabby

Actor Vinay Virmani has signed French director Jean-François Pouliot’s new film after receiving rapturous pre-release accolades for his performance as a street musician and the youngest protagonist in David. Pouliot’s film is an oddball comedy entitled Doctor Cabby, about a young Indian doctor in New York who finds himself working as a taxi driver after his medical degree proves invalid.

Vinay co-wrote the film. “I’ve seen Indians in Canada coming to seek white-collar jobs and ending up as cabbies. It’s heartbreaking,” said the actor, who plans to don the director’s hat soon. “I give myself three years as an actor. Then I’ll direct a film. I already know what I’d make. It would be a crazy comedy,” he said.

Vinay says he grew up wanting to be associated with films, especially as his Canada-based businessman father, Ajay Virmani’s best friend is Bollywood star Akshay Kumar. “Akshay stayed in our home whenever he was in Canada. Through him and through my dad’s other friends from Bollywood, I was constantly linked to Hindi movies,” says Vinay and adds: “I can’t wait to show David to Akshay. I know he’ll be proud of me.”

Vinay was first seen in Indo-Canadian film Breakaway, based on the game of ice hockey. It was co-produced by Akshay and titled Speedy Singhs in India.

Defending his debut stoutly, Vinay said, “It was a good learning experience. It did very well in its international version and not so well when it was released as Speedy Singhs in Hindi. The release in India was ill-timed.”

In the same breath, Vinay admits that David is like his real debut. In the film, directed by Bejoy Nambiar, Vinay plays a musician whose life changes when Hindu fundamentalists kill the Christian priest who mentored him. “I don’t know how or why Bejoy Nambiar chose me for the part of one of the three protagonists. He saw the street musician in me, and my job was to live up to his vision.”

Vinay spent close to six months preparing for the role. “I lost weight. I learnt to play the guitar. There was also a guitarist on location to make sure I held the instrument properly and played the strings correctly. But that was only the warming up. My real challenge began when we started shooting David in a chawl and on the streets of Mumbai during the monsoon,” he said.

He says his life changed while shooting in the slums. “I come from a fairly privileged background. Not that I was born with a golden spoon. I was a child when my dad found his business bearings in Canada. But while shooting for David, a completely different world opened up to me. I saw from close quarters how 10 people could live in a tiny room without complaining.”

The young actor says the experience changed his life. “My director Bejoy is relentless. He doesn’t settle for anything less than the visuals in his head. All of us in the film had to push ourselves until we manifested Bejoy’s vision. I really couldn’t ask for more,” he said.

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