Warm, candid and honest – these are some of the words one would use to describe Gulshan Devaiah. I have had the good fortune of speaking to him on several occasions and every time, I get an opportunity to speak to the actor, I look forward to getting a further understanding of how he looks at his craft and life in general. Ahead of the satellite premiere of his film ‘Cabaret’, Gulshan talks about why he wants more people to discover the film, what happened when an ardent fan overstepped his boundaries, shooting for Reema Kagti’s ‘Fallen’, discovering ways to express to himself on social media and more.
If we take the date of the announcement of the film and its satellite premiere into account, this is the longest journey you have had with any film in your career.
That’s true! (laughs) The film went through its share of ups and down and all of that is there in the public domain. Whatever the people might think of the film, I am very happy with the work I got to do with this film. Richa and I worked really hard on this film. Actually, hard work does not really matter if it does not make a difference in people’s lives. I think as actors we did our best. I am happy that people are getting to see the efforts we put into the film.
This is the second time both of you have worked together on a project?
Yes, ‘Goliyon Ki Raasleela Raam-Leela’ was the first one. In that film, she was my sister-in-law. In ‘Cabaret’, we were paired opposite each other.
When you signed ‘Cabaret’ way back in 2013, you said it was the biggest break for you. Did you say it because you were not getting the kind of work you wanted to do?
No, I was getting good work but signing the film was special for a few reasons. I can actually explain the context of that statement properly now. It was the biggest thing for me then as I was offered a two-film deal by Pooja Bhatt’s company Fish Eye Network. For a person who was starting out, it was quite a big thing. Pooja met me when I was working on ‘Goliyon Ki Raasleela Raam Leela’. The following week, she discussed a few concepts with me and told me that she really likes my work and would like to do more than one film with me. The Bhatts have always been known for mounting their films well. Their films usually have good and popular music. So, it was very good opportunity for somebody like me at that point of time.
The second film you were supposed to do as a part of that two-film deal was ‘A Love Affair’.
Yes, I was really looking forward to working with Soni Razdan on the film as I had a wonderful time discussing the subject with her and preparing for the film. Kalki Koechlin and Ali Fazal were also a part of the film. I was really looking forward to work with Soni who herself is a fine actor. Sometimes, things don’t work out the way we expect to and that’s okay.
You have always been very accessible to fans but recently, a fan overstepped his boundaries and made you feel uncomfortable.
Yes, sometimes I do get uncomfortable. I tell them when I feel so and they respect it. Sometimes, they are not able to understand. In this particular case, I got very uncomfortable. I am a peace-loving person. I also believe that crossing boundaries and making people feel uncomfortable is not right. So, I had to put certain guidelines. I would like to specify here that nothing bad really happened. Nobody has hurt me. I was a little bit scared but no actual crime has been committed. I am grateful for all the love that people give me but respecting an individual’s privacy is also very important.
Are you still shooting for the Amazon Prime Video series ‘Fallen’? Would that be the final title of the film?
Yes, I am still shooting for that series. I was informed initially that ‘Fallen’ was going to be the tentative title. Working on this series has been a great experience. I always take up projects that I feel positive about. That project then becomes a part of my life. I got to work with two wonderful filmmakers on the project, Reema Kagti and Ruchika Oberoi. Sonakshi (Sinha) is a wonderfully sweet person. We play badminton together. I have always loved Vijay’s work and it was great to work with him on this project. Sohum is also a part of the show. Apart from being a very good actor, he is also a visionary producer and has backed films like ‘Ship Of Theseus’ and ‘Tummbad’. He talks about the kind of cinema he wants to make and it is extremely interesting to listen to his ideas. Despite the long shoot hours, all of us find enough time to sit with each other and talk.
You often write insightful things on life and cinema on social media. You come across as somebody who has a very deep understanding of life and the business you are in. Would you like to write a book on your experiences someday?
No, I have no plans of writing a book (laughs). If a write a book, I will feel very self-important. I do have the ability to look at certain things in a very unemotional or outsider. I try to build a perspective that is, hopefully, balanced. I was ion twitter since 2011 but was not sure how to use it. I largely used it to crack jokes or promote my films. During the lockdown, I discovered my way of expressing through Twitter. I just try to say things I strongly feel about in an articulate manner.
You are doing a film called ‘Pikchar’.
No, that film is not happening anymore. It was announced but it got into some problem. I do one thing at a time. Once I finish shooting for ‘Fallen’, I will think what I want to do next. There are discussions about various projects happening at the moment but I have not signed anything. After finishing a project, I take a break for a month or two. So, I will not be working in April. This is my preferred way of working and I am happy with it.
Cabaret premieres on &Pictures on 27th February at 10 PM.