Actor Amol Parashar / (Twitter and Instagram).
Amol Parashar, a name that resonates with versatility and talent in the world of Indian entertainment, has left an indelible mark on both the big and small screens. Widely recognized for his charismatic portrayal of Chitvan Sharma in the immensely popular web series "TVF Tripling," Amol has demonstrated a remarkable range as an actor.
His dedication to his craft and ability to immerse himself in diverse roles shine through his portrayal of historical icons like Shaheed Bhagat Singh in "Sardar Udham" and a myriad of other characters that have captivated audiences. In an exclusive interview with Deccan Chronicle, talks about his teleplay, 'Panchi Aise Aate Hain', his role and much role.
Can you tell us about your character Arun in "Panchi Aise Aate Hain" and how you prepared for this role?
Arun (the character), is a funny, charming, charismatic person. He has a certain mystery about things because he's the kind of character you don't know where he's coming from, where he's going. It's a bit of a traveler, little bohemian, has progressive values, the kind of people who come into your life and just like, change everything and shake up everything and then disappear one day, but for good intentions, not in a bad way.
You could call him a con man, but it's not, because he's not probably just looking to steal or just for his own selfish benefits, but there is a humanity about him. And there is an empathy about him, which is why he comes into this particular play.
He comes into this household and then he connects with a daughter of the household who's not, who he believes deserves more, but the society and the system and the family and our own self because of that have stopped believing in her or they don't look at her the same way that she deserves to be looked at, and I think he kind of changes changes that in her by forming a bond with her and inspiring those feelings and thoughts inside her, and then just disappearing one day as he is.
So, these are the kinds of characters that I think are very attractive for any actor because they have a certain kind of mysterious personality, and they have humor and charm, and they have the gift of the gab. It's almost like playing Shahrukh Khan as a character. That was exciting.
And, and the idea that we were doing, at that time a teleplay, I used to do a lot of theater. I came to Bombay because of theater. But this was a time when we were, and kudos to the Zee Theater also for taking this initiative of taking these classic plays, because this was a play written by Mr. Vijay Tendulkar in Marathi in the 1970s. And of course, it has been adapted in many formats, in many languages, but to take that play as a play, and adapt it for screen in not exactly a film, but it's like a tele play. So that that format takes that format to a larger audience, I think is the initiative and I was very excited to be a part of that initiative.
When it first started and I heard it for the first time, it sounded very unique and interesting. And new, which is exactly the kind of stuff in life. So yeah, that was the idea and we rehearsed it like a play. We performed it more or less like a play but we shot it on camera and made a teleplay out of it.
The character that you have played is not a con man. He's not there to steal anything. But does the character not steal the young girl's heart?
Oh, he does. And it happens both ways in the play. Sort of I remember it's not said as loud, loudly in as many words, but there is a part of him also, that he kind of leaves behind. So, it is an exchange. He is taking maybe a piece of her heart, but he's also leaving a piece of his heart behind because he also gets attached in the process of coming close to her and forming this bond, and friendship with her. So, it is not like he doesn't feel anything later, or it's just like he's flown off, so he doesn't care. He also feels it, he feels the attachment. But, for whatever personal reasons he's chosen to live with life.
He's chosen to follow whatever made him decide to live his life like that and not to get settled in one place and to stay in one place. And I think that's a dichotomy you also see in the play, where he addresses the fact that it is not easy for him also, to just like one day, pack his bags and leave, because he's also gotten attached. So yes, he's probably stolen her heart, but he's also left his own heart behind, in exchange.
"Panchi Aise Aate Hain" seems to explore the theme of arranged marriages in India. What drew you to this project, and what do you think the show brings to this topic that's unique?
We are a generation I think, at least, in the last couple of generations have been talking about arranged marriages, a lot of people are moving away from that system. And when systems change, there is always some conflict and some push and pull. And some people will defend this, and some people will advocate that. But it is, we know that it is changing. But at the same time, yes, the play is about amongst many things about arranged marriages, but I think it's also about a larger idea of certain set patterns that women are having to lead as compared to men.
This idea of arranged marriage, in the case of this play, the idea of arranged marriage, about being married at a certain age, about looking a certain way, eligible for marriage, about probably having enough money to pay the dowry, to marry into a respectable family, all these ideas that have been a part of not just our society, but the world at large.
Just the ideas that are posed upon the women by the patriarchy. And sometimes they also start to believe it. So in this case, she starts to believe that she's not worthy enough to be married to a good guy in a rich family, because that's what the world around her is making her believe. So it affects her sense of self worth, it affects her confidence, it affects how she looks at herself. So, you know, it could be about marriages.
In modern days, it could be about relationships, about a job, about running a company, but it is eventually deep down about the idea that has been fed into the woman about her own self worth and what she's capable of doing and what she deserves.
So, I think that is still relevant. Because I do as much as I try and understand the experience of women around me, there have been a lot of times in their lives when they ended up looking at themselves, how the world looks at them, but then it took them time to unlearn that kind of behavior and thought patterns. So, I think it is something that stays relevant, it's something that we've all seen or heard or experienced. And continues to happen in one way or another. It's not about marriages. It's about other things.
Would you like to tell our readers what the term 'teleplay' means?
It's a televised play. It is performed on a stage like a play, but it's shot on camera. One technical difference is that it's all shot from the audience's point of view, you just watch it from one direction, camera angles may change, but it's mostly from one side. So it's almost like watching a play, but you're on stage, sometimes, with the actors, the camera can get close to them and all of that. So it is a new format. And it is something that you know, like anything new, people either take to it very fast, or they take time to get used to it, but it's definitely something that enables, for example, Zee Theater who take these classic plays, which otherwise would get lost.
To document them in a televised based format, and to be able to take them to a larger audience, and to take that literature to take those stories and to take these classic plays, which otherwise would have been lost.
And the idea is to experiment with this format, to be able to take these stories to a larger audience. And if the idea, if the larger audience exists behind a screen, then let's take our place to the screen, which I believe is a great noble thought. And of course, with experiments people will find out what works, what doesn't work and how we can make it better, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.
The Shukla family in this teleplay is under immense pressure to get Saru married.How does Arun's arrival help Saru navigate through her situation?
Saru lives in a world where her worth, the ideas of herself are defined by her family, her brother, and not by herself. And this is a guy who is a bit of a free soul and he comes into her life, he can get close to her. He evokes certain feelings in her. He evokes a sense of confidence and self worth into her and makes her believe that she's good enough. And she's attractive. That's the basic feeling that all of us need at certain points in our life. Somebody just come to us and tell us that we are good enough. There's nothing wrong with you. And you need to hear that from a trusted voice. And he becomes that trusted voice for her. And he infuses that sense of worth and confidence, but sadly leaves because that's who he is.
So eventually, he may not change the family. It's not like everybody's transformed. But what he's been able to give her is an idea of freedom, an idea of confidence, an idea of, standing up for herself. And sometimes all of us need it at different points in our lives.
As an actor, while playing this particular character of Arun, did you come across some challenges? And how did you overcome them?
I can't think of a challenge really. With good material, good writing is that after the job is done, even if you just stand on stage and say the lines you will have done, and of course with craft, you can add on to it and you can make it better. So in this case, there is already a classic, very famous play, model for performance and character. And I had a great team, I had my director, Ishan Trivedi, who is a great theater person, he has a lot of experience who directs the play, was kind of guiding us through the rehearsals and the process of character building and forming.
So, it was just getting into the process of surrendering to the process and the tech thing and when you have trust in the writing, when you have trust in the directing line, you don't think too much. I can do whatever the text and the team demands you to do. It is when you don't have that trust is when you get confused because you be like, should I do this? Should I do that? But in this case, I think it was awesome. It of course takes time to rehearse and to build that character and to build a play.
It is not like I will just do one line and then we'll cut and then we'll do another line. That's not how we are shooting it. We are shooting it like we are performing it like a play. We are rehearsing for it like a play. So, it takes time and effort and hours and hours of work. But not a specific challenge I can think of.
From playing the character of Chitwan Sharma in TVF Tripling to playing Shaheed Bhagat Singh in Sardar Udham. How did you play different characters and what kind of preparations did you go under?
If you surrender to the text and the director or creative team, it usually takes you to a new place. The text has been written by a certain writer with a certain world-view, certain perspective. And eventually, if you let them guide, then you will reach a new place, because that's the place that they have, they have imagined and designed. It is when we think that I know more than these people, and I will do what I will do, you let it be the same thing. Because then you're only applying your own knowledge which is limited. You have to, I believe, surrender to what the text demands from you. I see that in younger actors also.
In my advice, don't try to stop yourself from trying something new, because it's scary. Because it's, you know, doing something new is scary. Now I've done Chitvan, if I don't do Chitvan, will people accept me, will people mock me. Will people say 'haan, he can do only that.' All those fears come and then stop you from trying something new, stop you from surrendering to a new situation, to a new character.
And the only reminder that I keep giving myself is that if I work with the right text, with a good script, if I work, if I choose to work with smart people, good people, people who know what they're doing, then more than half my job is done, because I just have to follow the text and the instructions. And of course, then we can work together and I can bring in my own ideas, and we can jam and even take it to a further level. But you have to let go. And that's hard.
There are a lot of doubts that come into your mind. But you have to let go. Like the case of Sardar Udham. If I have a well written scene, and if Shoojit Sircar takes me in a certain direction, I will not resist, I will go, I will put all my trust in him and I will jump when he asks me to jump and I will jump from a building. He says, Yeah, this is what you have to do. But yeah, there are times when your inner self tries to stop you. But you have to find it. You have to really surrender.
And that's I think, doing different kinds of characters, a lot of people tell me you know, you do different kinds of characters. The work is not to create differences, the work is for me to just let them mould me and not have rules around what I want to do. Let the director and the script mould you, and be honest to that and to your own sense of who you are and how you want to look like and you know, I want to look something cool, I want to do something here, I want to look good, I would wear the shirt. Those are very petty thoughts that come but just remove that and be honest to the vision and the text.
In your career, you've worked in both web series and films. Do you have a preference between the two, and what do you find most appealing about each medium?
When you're acting on a certain day in a certain scene, it has no difference because you're acting as per the script and the director. So, you don't really think this is a web series, let me act like this. This is a film so let me do this kind of acting doesn't happen. On a logistical level, sometimes it's easier for me to choose films because they are shorter commitments.
Shows these days are like 10 episodes, it's almost like making 3-4 films, so they demand much more from you. It demands so much more time and sometimes you're doing like two or three seasons back to back.
We still do like once in three years, two years, so that is not the same feeling but with other shows if you're signing on, it seems like a lot to take on at one point and things are mostly like okay, this is a 30-40 days commitment you go in, you do your thing you get out and then move on to something new. So just in terms of being able to try new things, I think films are easier because shorter commitment shows are very expensive and tiring.
You do one show for three months, six months, and then you come out of the show, like, I need a six month break. Because it's a lot of work. Eight episodes, ten episodes, 50 minutes. That's like making four or five films at a time and it is exhausting. So it's easier for me to pick a film and I am more picky about my shows, because I know that if I'm going to invest so much time and effort and myself into something, I'd rather be worth it.
Your portrayal of Shaheed Bhagat Singh in Sardar Udham was highly critically acclaimed. Did that role have any kind of impact on you personally?
I think all personalities that you play, they leave something behind in you. Especially some things that work, when they turn out well, they have a more of an impact on me.
I got to learn a lot about the person that he was. I read a lot, and thanks to being a part of the film and playing this, I read about him, I read writings written by him. I read The commentary at that time, it also makes you a little more politically aware, I think, generally at a larger level, at a social level.
It gives you some clarity of thought, because that person is very inspiring. The more you read about that person, the more you read off that person. It's quite fascinating. It's quiet, almost superhuman like this is a person, the thing you're reading is written by a 21 year old. And when you are hit by that reality, that the clarity of thought and the complexity of worldview, it's very fascinating, and then you realize, this is why it makes him who he is, or who he was.
A 21-22 year old who was hanged at the age of 23 was respected by people across ages, cultures, countries and leaders of all kinds of ideologies. And it is because of this exact reason that he was so well read, and was a thinker, more than anything as a philosopher. And the more you read about him, the more you understand the humanity behind behind that figure, because what we ended up doing, and this is something that Shoojit sir to me and really hit me that what we end up doing is we put them in frames, on the walls and think they are some gods. But, we forget what they stood for, and how they did what they did and why they did what they did. Whether, we continue to think and work on the ideals that they formed or that they laid their lives for. 'Yaa fir hum bas photo laga ke, salute karke khush hain?'
It made me aware of my own privileges. It made me aware of the foundation of thought and values that these people laid their lives upon and built our great nation. And we should talk about it, we should be spreading their message.
Last year, I ended up distributing some of his books online. I just put them on Instagram, and people wrote to me, and some 40 people I sent the book to because I felt this is what young people should be reading. This is the idea that they should be forming. Because everybody should be socially and politically aware and to read something so sharp and so intelligent and so charismatic, it is great. He's a great writer also. Of the idea, I think I got inspired, and I have been trying to inspire more people to get in touch with those personalities.
As an actor, what kind of roles or genres do you aspire to explore in the future, and are there any dream projects you'd like to be a part of?
I like novelty, I like new things. So, I would want to keep doing things that I haven't done in the past. And I am glad that those kinds of things keep coming to me thankfully. Now it's my responsibility to choose the right works and do justice to that. So I don't really have very set ideas on exactly what I want to do or this is my big dream. I want to experiment, I want to do new things. And I want to do justice to whatever comes my way.
Would you like to share some funny anecdotes from the behind the scenes of the show?
It's hard to remember. The overall feeling I remember was of a general camaraderie because it was almost like being a part of theatre and, like I said, My roots are in theater, I became an actor because of theater because of being on stage and doing plays. And then I got this opportunity to do a televised play with a great team. Ishan sir was there, guiding us through, and all the other people were well-well versed with theater.
So, I remember that we used to have a lot of fun and food and laughs like any other theater rehearsal. But there was also excitement because we were doing something new. We were experimenting with a new format, we were doing a tele play, and we were all getting paid for it, which we don't otherwise get paid as much for doing a normal play. So that was an exciting time. It was an interesting time. I have memories of where we used to rehearse and I have some pictures from there.
Lastly, what message or takeaway do you hope viewers get from watching "Panchi Aise Aate Hain" and your performance in it?
I hope the play does what Arun does to Saru in the play, which is that it makes certain people aware of their own trappings. And these are mostly trappings of the mind that have been drilled into you over your by people.
All ideas of who you are and who you should be and what your life should be like. And if you don't do this by 25, you are a failure, if you don't do this by 30. You have to be attractive, you have to look like this, but there are so many ideas that don't come from reality, but they come from tradition which are not even relevant anymore. So, I hope when people see it, they're able to see how they are stuck by these types of mental trappings and I hope that gives them the confidence and the self worth realisation.
And I think in a complex society like ours, not just women, but even men in certain ways are bound by these laws of patriarchy, and rules of society, and marriages, and love and all the other things. And I hope this play sends the message across, if you're a good person, if you're a good human being, then all these rules don't really matter, you make your own rules.
What would you tell your fans about your future projects apart from 'Panchi Aise Aate Hain'?
I have a couple of interesting films up for release, and hopefully they will be out soon. And I hope all the love that I feel on an everyday basis through social media and everything and all of that, I hope that continues and translates into into the performance of the film as well. Because that's what keeps us going. And that's what gives people like me opportunities because there's nothing else that I have on my plate, rather than my skill and the idea that my work is loved by a certain number of people.
So, if you continue to show your love that will only help me sell myself better and do more work and more interesting work and I will promise you that I will continue to work hard towards doing justice to whatever I'm a part of.