‘Women are more in love with Iqbal than with Vicky!’  — Vicky Kaushal has hit the big league with Raazi

He started off on a promising note with the double Cannes winner Masaan. Films like Bombay Velvet, Raman Raghav 2.0 and Love Per Square Foot earned him praise. But it’s with Raazi that Vicky Kaushal has hit pay dirt. The Meghna Gulzar film starring Alia Bhatt as a real-life Indian spy in the ’70s who is married to Pakistani army officer Iqbal, played by Vicky, has not only won rave reviews but already earned close to Rs 80 crore at the domestic box office. 

  • Published 23.05.18
  •  

He started off on a promising note with the double Cannes winner Masaan. Films like Bombay Velvet, Raman Raghav 2.0 and Love Per Square Foot earned him praise. But it’s with Raazi that Vicky Kaushal has hit pay dirt. The Meghna Gulzar film starring Alia Bhatt as a real-life Indian spy in the ’70s who is married to Pakistani army officer Iqbal, played by Vicky, has not only won rave reviews but already earned close to Rs 80 crore at the domestic box office. 

And for those who wanted more of Iqbal, there’s a lot more of Vicky in 2018 —  he’s directed by Karan Johar in one of the three short stories in Netflix film Lust Stories (June 15); plays Kumar Gaurav in Rajkumar Hirani’s Sanjay Dutt biopic Sanju (June 29); and stars with Abhishek Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu in Anurag Kashyap’s romantic drama Manmarziyaan (September 7). 

t2 caught up with Vicky on life after Raazi and on being hailed as the new sex symbol on the Bolly block.

You must have always known Raazi was a good film, but has the overwhelming response taken you by surprise?

This kind of unanimously amazing response has been a big surprise, to be honest. We were hoping for good things to happen to a film like this. While filming it and even after that, we knew this was a good film. But the way people welcomed the film from the first day itself was overwhelming. The word-of-mouth for this film has been amazing. 

Any feedback that’s stayed with you?

Before release, people were asking me questions like, ‘Are you apprehensive that you are playing a Pakistani?’ And the same people, after release, told me, ‘We are so happy you played Iqbal!’ (Laughs) That was beautiful… that after the film, they forgot Iqbal’s nationality, they forgot which side of the border he was from. They just fell in love with the character. That, for me, was a huge compliment. Meghna has accomplished the feat of showing patriotism without demeaning the other country. And when people appreciate that, we feel that we have achieved a small victory. 

Iqbal is an integral part of Raazi. The character has had the power and scope to change some people’s mindsets towards people across the border…  t o view them as human beings first

What made you want to play Iqbal? 

When I turned the last page of the script, there was a feeling of immense gratitude. Gratitude towards those people who endanger their lives for the security of the country. For me, that’s a selfless act of bravery. I don’t know them, neither do they know me… but there was this really beautiful feeling that I spent the whole day with after reading the script. I felt that if names like Meghna Gulzar, Karan Johar (who’s co-produced the film) and Alia Bhatt are making a film like this and I am getting an opportunity to be a part of it and play someone like Iqbal, I should really think it’s an honour.     

Iqbal has been liked so much that there’s been a unanimous feeling that he shouldn’t have died. Have you heard that one too?

(Laughs) I have got a lot of sweet messages saying, ‘Iqbal shouldn’t have died! We feel so sad! He was such a nice person!’ Such things do put a smile on your face. As an actor, it’s validation that they wanted more of you, more of the character on screen. But that’s how the story went. It was the director’s and writer’s call and Iqbal’s death works for the film. 

Raazi was always an Alia Bhatt film. Did that ever play on your mind when you signed on?

My introduction into the film industry happened with Masaan, which was a multi-star cast film. I was just a part of the film. After Masaan, I saw that people took back the story of the film and when they liked the story, they started noticing the characters. That’s how they noticed me. For me, the hero of a film is always the story. If the story works, then I feel people will take back my character even if I am present in only one scene. 

For life we say, ‘Zindagi lambi nahin, badi honi chahiye’. So for the characters I get approached for, I don’t look at the amount of screen time but the life my character brings to the film. 

Iqbal is an integral part of Raazi… he’s a beautiful part of the film. The character has had the power and scope to change some people’s mindsets towards people across the border, to view them as human beings first. I took up Iqbal because I felt he had a larger purpose in the story than just simply playing a part. I just listened to my heart and took the plunge. 

Your next two releases — Lust Stories and Sanju — are also ensemble films… 

Yes, they are. But I also have to be careful about the fact that I don’t get slotted into such kind of films. The idea is never to be repetitive. If I have done a role that’s taken me to a certain space emotionally, I won’t repeat that; I would rather do something now that taps into something else in my psyche… maybe something that makes me nervous. My primary focus is to be part of great stories made by good filmmakers. 

Last year, I didn’t have a single release, but I was happy because I spent every day working on a film set with amazing filmmakers like Karan Johar, Meghna Gulzar, Anurag Kashyap, Rajkumar Hirani…. This year, I am looking at that work to come out and see how the audience reacts to it.  

How do you react to being hailed as an overnight sex symbol?

(Laughs an embarrassed laugh) I think it kind of started with Love Per Square Foot (his Netflix film that released earlier this year and had Vicky playing a boy-next-door). Raazi kind of amplified that. It’s sweet that women are reacting to me like this, but I feel they are more in love with Iqbal than with Vicky! (Laughs) I have to be careful to not allow things to go to my head. I tell myself that the love is for the film and hence, I am getting that love. But yes, it does feel special. Through you, I would like to thank all those people out there — including those who have written in to t2 — for all the love. Big love from me too! 

After Raazi, is the industry viewing you differently?

It’s been a surreal journey for me since Masaan. The way the industry has accepted me and motivated me has been amazing. Everyone’s been like, ‘Beta, toh bahut achha kaam kar raha hai. Toh aise hi kaam karta jaa… and never change’. These things have been big motivation for me. I have grown up in this industry — because of my father — and all those who saw me struggling in the initial years, running from one audition to another, facing failure after failure, tell me that they are so happy that I am now seeing such good times. That gives me a lot of confidence. 

Given that this success has come after years of setbacks, does it seem sweeter?

It does feel nice. But I always believe in Rudyard Kipling’s words from his poem If… that success and failure are both impostors and one needs to treat them the same way. The best thing is to enjoy the process that can lead you either to success or to failure. The reason why I do what I do is that I love acting, and as long as I am going to enjoy doing that, I will take success and failure as part and parcel of this journey. The thrill that I get out of working with directors like Meghna Gulzar and a co-actor like Alia Bhatt is what is most important. I’m a kid who’s just started out… it’s only been three years… and hopefully, there are many more years to go.

V FOR VICKY 
Age: 30 
Birthday: May 16
Sun sign: Taurus 
Twitter bio: Actor 
Studied to be: A mechanical engineer
Debut: Masaan (2013)
Industry connection: His father Sham Kaushal is an action director, with films like Slumdog Millionaire, Dangal, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Padmaavat to his credit. Vicky’s brother Sunny is also an actor

Priyanka Roy 
Vicky Kaushal is the next big thing in Bollywood because... 
Tell t2@abp.in

About
Author