Ankur Rathee is one of those actors who have benefitted greatly from the digital revolution that has happened in recent times. The actor has played prominent parts in some of the most successful web shows made in India like ‘Four More Shots Please!’, ‘Made In Heaven’, ‘Undekhi’, ‘Inside Edge’ (Season 3) and ‘City of Dreams’, among others. Films like ‘The Tashkent Files’, ‘Thappad’ and ‘Taish’, too, have brought in a lot of acclaim for the young actor.
In this exclusive interview, Ankur talks about his eventful journey as an actor, the growth of the web space, favourite characters, sharing the screen with Kartik Aaryan in ‘Shehzada’ and more.
A lot of appreciation came your way for the sensitive manner in which you portrayed a queer character in ‘Inside Edge 3’. What is the kind of preparation you had to undergo to ensure that the character was represented properly?
First I tried to understand Allen’s identity beyond his sexual orientation. Who he is attracted to is just one layer of who he is. I believe a common pitfall for actors is making that one layer the basis for a character’s entire personality. Allen is madly in love. My goal was to anchor him in that truth and build up from there. The elation and turmoil accompanying love are no different whether you are gay or straight. His quarrel with Rohit is one of principle. Allen has devoted his life fighting for equal rights and championing a cause that Rohit is unable to find the courage to publicly support. Being with Rohit is contradictory to everything Allen stands for. Add to that the embarrassment Allen feels for being ‘hidden’, as if he is some mistress. But, how can Allen give up the love of his life? It’s heart-wrenching. Allen understands Rohit’s fears, but knows he deserves more. This is the central conflict for Allen and finding my character from here rather than his sexual orientation was key to representing him fairly.
A large chunk of the work you have done has been in the web space. Do you think the digital revolution has helped actors, especially those who don’t come from a film background, get interesting parts?
There is more work today because of the digital revolution. More work requires more actors, and the previous pool of talent couldn’t service the growing needs of the industry anymore. That’s where artists like myself came in and started exploring this new territory.
Every actor goes through different experiences in their lives before they feel confident about their craft. When you were twelve years old, you were all set to deliver your first monologue during a cultural event in school. Because of stage fright, you forgot all your lines.
I forgot my lines because I didn’t believe in myself. That’s the thing people don’t tell you about performance. Train all you want, but if you want to leave an impact it starts with believing in your own artistic voice. You must believe that you have something worthy of listening to or watching. That day when I was 12 I knew my lines very well. I had rehearsed them over and over again. I forgot them because I felt small and unworthy.
Your sister Sonia Rathee and fiancée Anuja Joshi are established actors. Between the three of you, do you exchange notes on your performances and give each other feedback?
Well, actually there’s four of us. Anuja’s sister, actress Aneesha Joshi, has also played a pivotal part in the artist I am today. It’s tricky. We always pay each other compliments but are more careful with our critiques. Perhaps, we understand that we are all our own greatest critics and there is no shortage of critics in the audience and our industry. Therefore, we try to create as supportive of an environment for each other as possible. Encouragement at home, we believe, is far more vital to our success. Still, when one of us approaches the other for critical feedback we don’t shy away.
Imran, Arjun, Karan, Daman, Arvind, Allen – out of all the characters you have played so far, which has been your most favourite performance of yours?
Arjun is an absolute flirt and yet there are moments where he surprises you with his maturity. He is young but he wants to be taken seriously in his relationship. He wants to play all the time, but he doesn’t want people to view him as a child. It’s quite endearing actually. I used to walk onto the set with Arjun’s charm and I would often take it home with me. I enjoyed how it fit me.
You will be next seen in ‘Shehzada’ which features a bunch of actors like Kartik Aaryan, Kriti Sanon, Manisha Koirala, Paresh Rawal, Ronit Roy and Sachin Khedekar. Can you share something about your role in the film?
You will just have to wait and see! But I can tell you that working with the idols I grew up watching has made this one of the most magical experiences of my career.