Actor Harshvardhan Rane gets candid with The Telegraph
At the recently held OTTplay Awards, actor Harshvardhan Rane won the honour for best actor in a negative role for his short but impactful turn in Haseen Dillruba. Since that film, the reticent actor has notched up quite a few big projects, including Tara vs Bilal, produced by John Abraham, set to release in theatres on October 28. The Telegraph chatted with the always affable and honest Harsh to know more.
Congratulations for the award for Haseen Dillruba. You have signed quite a few films, and Tara vs Bilal, is of course, coming out in end-October...
The awards for Haseen Dillruba are coming now but by the time I did that film, the prominent film-makers who I had wanted to work with had already seen Taish. That made them sign me for their films. Dharma Cornerstone Agency (DCA, Karan Johar’s talent agency) signed me up after Taish. Watching me in the space in which they have imagined me is what will make them sign me, I feel.
After Haseen Dillruba, I signed four films. A lot of credit for that goes to how Bejoy sir (Nambiar, the director of Taish) mounted and presented me in that film. A silent, romantic lover is what I played there. And whichever film-maker had a story with a character who had a similar graph called me up for a role. So Taish is what started it for me and Haseen Dillruba has been the cherry on the cake.
The films you have signed on are pretty diverse in genre...
Yes. The dream of every actor is to be as diverse as possible. After Haseen Dillruba, I finished Kun Faya Kun, which is a time-travel film. And then I finished Tara vs Bilal, which is a romantic drama which was shot in London. After that, I have finished Miranda Brothers, directed by Sanjay Gupta sir, that was shot in Goa three months ago. I have shot half of Bejoy Nambiar’s Dange. That has an absolutely different look. The way people were shocked with my look in Taish... it will be a pleasant surprise for them to see how I look in Dange. Miranda Brothers is a sports film and Dange, by its very name, you know what it’s about (laughs).
So ya, all different films which show different shades of me. I don’t look at my films as just films... every film for me is a resume that I am sending out into the world.
There has also been some talk about a possible sequel to your Bollywood debut Sanam Teri Kasam. What’s happening on that front?
Vinay Sapru sir (the co-director of Sanam Teri Kasam) has spoken about it. The confirmation has to come from the side of the producers and the directors. And when it does, I will be totally ready to go for the shoot. They just need to say the word! (Laughs) The fact that the film, despite not working at the box office, has created the buzz for a sequel, is completely due to the support that has come from social media. I totally owe this one to the audience. They have kind of forced the makers to think ki ab toh bana na hi padega.
The last time we had spoken, we had discussed the mental pressures of being in this business. With your career now looking up, mentally and emotionally what kind of space are you in?
There is a lot of gratitude. I find myself thanking a lot. Whether I am doing guided or non-guided meditation, it puts me in a state where I find myself thanking all the spirits and energies and forces that have been responsible for me getting such quality work.
So is Harsh still as grounded as he always was?
Not being grounded is not even an option for me. I hail from a small town (Gwalior). I ran away from home when I was 16. I have worked as a waiter, at an STD booth, at a cyber cafe and as a courier boy.... I have done so many odd jobs. In 2004, I delivered a helmet to John Abraham and today I have done a film produced by him (smiles). For me, ‘grounded’ is the only state of being.
How has the industry’s response towards you changed after the success that you have had?
Honestly, I don’t have much clue about that because I don’t hang out much with people from the industry. I always feel they are too big for me to spend time with. I feel I don’t deserve that spotlight in their circle. But yes when a prominent film-maker calls and singles out a performance of mine for praise, then I do feel validated.
But isn’t networking an essential part of your profession?
To hang out in a pack, to be part of a clan and to know who the master of that clan is, does bring on a sense of community, of belonging. Networking is very important, but I feel that now is the time when one needs to be honest about one’s personality. If you aren’t that person who is outgoing, then don’t pretend to be that. One can easily see through an uncomfortable personality who is trying to fit in.
Honestly, I have been on that side. Once I was so uncomfortable in a gathering that I had people coming up to me to say that I looked terrified! (Laughs) I had told myself it’s important to network and so I pushed myself, I hired some clothes which I couldn’t afford to buy. It didn’t fit me well, my hair was buried under so many products and I looked and felt so uncomfortable.
I did a couple of those and then I have given up after telling myself, ‘Harsh, people can see through the pretence. Don’t put yourself through this’. Then I stopped.
And once you stop doing all this, then you can’t complain that no one clicked you at the airport. Arre, aapne hi toh choose kiya hain.
And honestly, this pandemic has brought out the introverted side of me so badly! (Laughs) We all had a lot of time then and I read up on introverts and why do I feel so uncomfortable in public spaces.
What do you do when you aren’t acting?
I am just one month away from what has always been a dream — getting a camper van, which is a house on wheels. I have been dreaming about this for the last 10-12 years, but I didn’t have the money for it. Once I get it, I think I will also have to get a satellite phone! It’s going to be really difficult to keep me in the city after that (laughs).