In his decade long career as an actor, Shiv Panditt has played a variety of roles many of which played an important role in propelling his career forward in the entertainment industry. Recently, his portrayal of an out-and-out evil character in ‘Chakravyuh: An Inspector Virkar Crime Thriller’, a series streaming on MX Player, has earned him a lot of accolades.
In this exclusive interview, the actor talks about his portrayal of a dark character in the show, journey in the entertainment industry, being choosy at the onset of his career, awaiting to see himself on the big screen after a hiatus with ‘Shershaah’, ‘Shaitaan’ completing a decade of its release and more.
Barring that fleeting glimpse of yours which we see, you make a late entry in the show but your presence is felt even before you take part in the proceedings actively. How did you approach this character?
Honestly, I was in two minds about doing the show. Eventually, I decided to do it and even took it up as a challenge. I had never played a character like this. I wanted to try my luck and see if I can successfully play a criminal who is evil in his approach. Playing a grey character is like portraying someone who has certain flaws. The character I played here was very dark. He destroys everyone who comes in his way. I was not sure how the audience would react to my portrayal but I am happy to see such good response coming my way.
Some of your earlier projects were the TV show ‘Rishta.Com’ and the film ‘Shaitaan’. These were considered to be clutter-breaking projects and very different from the kind of content that was being made then. Do you try to pick projects that are slightly edgy or offbeat?
I always try to do projects which excite me as an actor. I think I was too choosy at some points in my career but I have no regrets. An actor is a sum of his choices. There was a time when I was not happy with the kind of projects that were being offered to me. After hosting the IPL, I received many acting offers but did not sign anything. ‘Shaitaan’ happened almost three years after that. In ‘Shaitaan’, I was supposed to play K.C, which was eventually played by Gulshan and I ended up playing Dash. You always don’t get the kind of work you want to do but you have to keep striving to do better. I am so happy that I did a film like ‘Khuda Haafiz’. It gave me a lot of recognition as people had not seen me playing a character like that.
After ‘Shaitaan’, you waited for two years to get ‘Boss’. Was that difficult?
It is difficult if you do not plan your life. In those two years, I would keep myself occupied by doing ads and voiceovers. ‘Boss’ happened because I think it was meant for it to happen to me. Between ‘Shaitaan’ and ‘Boss,’ I had worked so much more that I honed my skills. When I went to the sets, I was not a novice. My co-actors in the film were actors like Akshay Kumar, Mithun Chakraborty, Ronit Roy and many others who had a lot more experience than I had. When you are working with such seasoned actors, you have to be on the top of your game. It might have been a little difficult to do a film of this nature without those two years of experience behind me.
The series was an adaptation of the book ‘Anti-Social Network: An Inspector Virkar Thriller’ authored by Piyush Mishra. Did you read the book?
No, I did not read the book. I think unless the director tells you to read a book or any other material a project is based on, you should just stick to the script. My director told me he did not want me to read the book as he wanted me to follow his lead on how to present the character. I like to work with limited information, otherwise I would end up cluttering my mind.
You started doing theatre when you were just ten years old. After arriving in Mumbai, you started working at a radio station before anchoring and acting opportunities came your way. Being somebody who had no industry connections, how would you assess your journey in the entertainment industry?
The industry actually comprises of more outsiders than insiders. That is why I find this debate and discussion around nepotism irrelevant. Everyone has their own journey and goes through a certain path. You have to be work hard and be practical at the same time. If things do not work out, you will understand it soon enough. The city and this profession test you and how you fare in those tests is very important. You could use the time you get tested to grow as an actor.
After doing a big-ticket film like ‘Boss’, one expected to see you in a lot of projects. That is something that did not happen back then. Why?
‘Boss’ did well on TV but was not a commercial success upon its release. I did offers of films that were in a similar space but none of them were exciting enough.
‘Shaitaan’ will complete ten years of its release this year. Can you share some of the memories associated with the film?
‘Shaitaan’ is a wonderful memory in itself. I will forever be grateful to Bejoy Nambiar, Anurag Kashyap and the entire team of the film. Most of the actors in the cast, including myself, were starting their careers at that point and all of us are doing pretty well today. I would give an arm and a leg to work with Bejoy anytime. He is one of my favorite directors and I would like to work with him again and again.
Dharma Productions’ ‘Shershaah’ is the next big release. What can you tell us about that?
I am not at the liberty to share anything about my role but it is a film I am really looking forward to. It is coming out ion 2nd of July. I had great time working with Sidharth (Malhotra) and the entire team on the film. I am dying to see myself on the big screen. ‘Meet The Patels’, a film in which I play the lead, is gearing up for an OTT release. ‘Zindagi Kashmakash’ is another film that will release digitally. I am also shooting for a web series at the moment which should be out in the next couple of months.