Vivan Bhatena on playing Hanuman in Kunal Kohli’s ‘Ramyug’, dealing with social media trolls, what one should expect from ‘Sooryavanshi’, passion for photography, directing a film and more.
You looked unrecognizable in ‘Ramyug’!
Thank you! It’s a huge compliment. When I meet to meet the team, I thought they had called me to play Raavan. That’s because I have played negative roles in many films in the recent past. When Kunal told me, he wanted me to play Hanuman, I was quite shocked. For the first 10-15 days, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself saying that it’s an iconic character. I realised there was no taking pressure. These days, no matter what you do somebody or the other trolls you on social media. I tried to look it as a character and not as God. There was a lot of discussion about costumes, jewellery and wig. I thought the character should be a little rough. People these days appreciate real things.
Mr Amitabh Bachchan has sung the song ‘Jai Hanuman’ which was picturized on your character. That must have been a special feeling?
Yes! Kunal is quite a chupa rustom. He told me we will do something special with your entry song. When I heard the song, I was quite shocked. For two days, I was not sure how to register it. Bachchan sahab getting associated with us is a big honor. The whole industry has supported our show and that is a big high for me.
What was the biggest challenge associated with doing this project?
My diction has always been good, so I didn’t have to struggle with the lines which were in chaste Hindi and Sanskrit. Also, I didn’t have so many lines. We shot extensively in Mauritius and the temperature used to fluctuate quite frequently there. When we reached there, it was raining heavily. The weather was very hot and shooting in that temperature was quite difficult. We were almost getting burnt. I have performed all my stunts myself. I had a slip disc for hanging for so long. I had injured my leg while training for the show. Physically, it was a very demanding shoot. The I used a real gada which was around 20 kilos.
Your journey in the glamour and entertainment industry started after winning Grasim Mr. India title in 2001. Out of all the roles you have played so far, which one has been the most special one?
I worked very hard on ‘Hero’. I left a lot of projects because of that film. I had to get ready with a small span of time. I had to live up to the belief that Nikkhil Advani and Salman bhai had put in me. Even though the film didn’t do very well, a lot of people noticed me and I got a lot of projects after this. The journey has not been very easy. When I was just starting out, a very famous photographer told me, “there is no work in this industry for you. You should just leave.” I took it as a challenge. That is my message to everybody. Do not give up.
Do you think you have got your due as an actor?
There are times when people tell me that I have everything that it takes to be a leading man. But, at the end of the day I have to pick the best from what I am offered. I know I have to pay my bills. I did television and that was a great boon for me. It taught me a lot and gave me financial stability.
You have been very passionate about photography too.
Yes, photography is one aspect of filmmaking. It gave a sense of developing frames. Photography
I am already taken it forward. I have shot many ads. Photography is one aspect of filmmaking. It gave a sense of developing frames. I recently directed an ad with Sonu Sood for Britannia. Being an actor has also helped me understand the nuances of filmmaking. I will definitely direct a film soon.
You have an important role in the Rohit Shetty’s ‘Sooryavanshi’.
Yes, working on the film was a truly memorable experience. The ADs were telling me I was doing a great job. I was getting written into different scenes. As an actor, when your work gets increased in a film you know you are doing something right. I was offered ‘Radhe’ also but I could not do it because of date issues. ‘Sooryavanshi’ is a larger than film but at the same time it’s not a typical Rohit Shetty formula. You will get to see something different. He has delivered a visual spectacle. Apart from doing a lot of action, Akshay sir is also very funny in the film. Even if the film releases by the end of this year, it will be a huge success.