The actor shares his thoughts about the city that changed his life...
He is one of the hot hunks on television. Gautam Rode came from Delhi to complete his modelling assignments and return within six months to join his father’s business as a stockbroker. However, acting beckoned and Gautam stayed back. It’s been almost two decades now, and he has several serials to his credit including Baa Bahoo Aur Baby, Babul Ka Aangan Chootey Na and films like U Bomsi And Me and Agyaat to name a few. But it was with Saraswatichandra that the actor made heads turn and since then has done shows like Mahakumbh: Ek Rahasya and is currently playing the titular role in Suryaputra Karn. He has also hosted reality shows like Nach Baliye in recent times and is now poised to return to the big screen. Here, the actor shares his thoughts about the city that gives maximum opportunities.
I came to Mumbai for the first time in 1999 after my graduation from Delhi. At that time I had no plans of getting into acting. My dad was a stockbroker and I intended to join him after completing my modelling assignment in Mumbai. However, when I went back to Delhi, my father had lost the ticket to stockbroking and there was nothing much to fall back on. I decided to do CS and Law, but soon realised it wasn’t my cup of tea and came back to Mumbai to pursue my career as a model.
Struggle for survival
However, I couldn’t survive in Mumbai through modelling, because you get three commercials in one month and are jobless for three months. Somebody suggested that since I have faced the camera, I should get into acting. But I remember I had gone to Churchgate in the evening for some modelling work, and when I got down at the station, I was swamped by the crowd. I could only see a lot of heads! I was so taken aback that I went and stood against the wall. I thought to myself I cannot handle this. In Delhi, I was used to a calm, peaceful environment and so I wanted to go back. I asked some people in Delhi if there was any scope for me in acting career there? They all told me Mumbai was the place. Since I was already here, I had to do something. I had got a cheque of Rs 55,000 from a campaign that I had done. That helped me rent a place in Versova.
The city that never sleeps
I felt everyone here is always running around. Even after 11-11.30 in the night you will find rickshaws and cars on the road with people playing loud music. In Delhi everything shuts down after 10-10.30 pm and you don’t see many people on the road. Here, life is fast paced. Slowly, I got into the groove of the city and started feeling this is the best place for a workaholic like me. I remembered a film — I think it was Angaarey — that I had seen in childhood. It starred Jackie Shroff and Nana Patekar and there was this line about Mumbai, ‘the city never sleeps’ in the film. At that time, I thought how is that possible, but after coming here I could relate to that. I also found that Mumbai gives you a lot of opportunities to grow. It opens doors for you and can take you places, especially for people like us who are in the creative field. The growth level is quite fast compared to other cities.
For a person who had come here with just Rs 4,000 in my pocket to achieve so much without any backing is something that is possible in this city. You should have the will, ambition, confidence and focus and your life changes here. When I came I did music videos, films and serials, but the turning point was Saraswatichandra and since then there’s no looking back! Mumbai is a life-changing city for me. It made me what I am!
It could be better...
The only thing I hate about the city is the traffic. I don’t move out of the house unless I have to. The other day it took me two hours to drive from Yaari Road to Kandivli, where I stay. I remember during the July 2005 torrential rains, I had to attend the Ba, Bahoo Aur Baby press conference. JD Majethia (producer) had told me I have to be there but when I took my car out, and saw the roads were flooded I reversed and went home. My mother made hot pakoras and I relished them.
I am not a party person and am averse to crowds. I like to be with my set of friends and go to a hotel where there are a few people. But that is possible only if you do a private booking. I love to go to the Pan Asian restaurant in Grand Maratha and the Italian joint in Westin. When I want to unwind I go to Marine Drive or Worli Seaface with a friend after 1 am because then not many people are around. It’s also safe, which is a good thing. In fact, it is safer than other cities.
What do you have to say about Mumbai as the city of dreams? Do you agree with Gautam Rode? Tell us in the comments section below!
(Text by Chaya Unnikrishnan)
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