The actor has been spinning a web across the digital platforms ever since his breakthrough performance as Vayu Raghavan in the two seasons of the series Inside Edge. His performance in the series, whose third season is coming soon, catapulted him into one of the superstars of the digital platforms.
The actor, born to veteran actress Rati Agnihotri and businessman and architect Anil Virwani, hit it big again as possibly one of the torchbearers of the recent show Cartel, playing the role of Major Bhau.
Tanuj tells us that he considers himself fortunate and grateful for having started off early. “When I signed Inside Edge back in 2016, the idea of doing a web series was not cool. There was television as well then. I was also told then that I’d be sounding the death knell of my career by taking this on. But I felt it was a brave and interesting new direction that could lead somewhere. Honestly, though, I hadn’t expected Inside Edge or in fact web series to blow up the way it has, but I am glad that I took that leap of faith,” says Tanuj.
However, despite the fame and success, the journey has hardly been hunky dory. For starters, Tanuj admits that web series are a bit unnerving for him because it is about a lot of shooting and screen time. “It gets a bit tricky. If it’s a longer screen presence, it can go two ways. You really sink your teeth into the character and give it a more nuanced graph and it is more fully formed. Having said that, a lot of weaknesses and inadequacies as an actor are revealed. When you are doing five or six scenes, it is fine. But when you are performing a lot of scenes for a series especially like Cartel, you are constantly in touch with the character and you need to be consistent. I must have shot something in 2019 and by the time I am shooting for it again in 2021, my acting style also evolved because I was working on other projects as well. So you have to form a little rule book. When the audiences are watching you on screen, they are not looking at what was shot when. It has to flow seamlessly and that is a bigger challenge,” he explains.
Speaking of evolutions, he agrees that there’s a massive change happening every five to seven years. “The audience also has a lot of exposure to international cinema and web shows. We have to think of unique concepts that are local and yet have a global feel like, Sacred Games, which transcended many barriers. It was about Mumbai and India and set in a certain period and still managed to echo with many,” he points out. “Then there is this instant validation or rejection on the web. You get to know which way the wind is blowing.”
Stepping out of his mother’s shadows
Struggles and successes apart, Tanuj has managed to strike it on his own despite the tag of being born to Rati Agnihotri. But he seems pretty comfortable in his skin when he says, “Your last name can only take you up to a certain distance. After that, it is your first name that will take you there. I want to have my own legacy going forward. My work has made her proud and that means the world to me.”
He further adds, “My mum has been a tremendous influence. Be it the films in the past that didn’t work or the web series I did later, I always take her opinion and keep picking her brains,” he adds with a chuckle. “She may not have agreed on certain decisions, but she does salute me now for what I have chosen and now people view me as an individual identity.”