Meet Pratik Gandhi, the actor who aced the role of Harshad Mehta in Scam 1992
Pratik Gandhi, the actor who portrayed the role of the ‘Big Bull’ Harshad Mehta with panache in Scam 1992, which is streaming on Sony LIV, is still soaking in the success of the web series. “I knew it would be a good show because of Hansal sir, Applause Entertainment and the involvement of so many seasoned actors and an experienced crew. But the success it has received and the appreciation I have got seem surreal.” The series is based on the book The Scam, The: Who Won, Who Lost, Who Got Away by Sucheta Dalal and Debashis Basu, which attempts to present what happened during the 1992 stock market scam in India. In a candid chat, the actor speaks about how he prepared for the role and why he empathises with the character.
Tell us how you bagged this role.
I am a Gujarati theatre artiste and have been acting for nearly 16 years. I have also acted in Gujarati films. Hansal sir had watched two of my films — Bey Yaar and Wrong Side Raju, which had won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Gujarati for 2016. He felt that I could pull off this role. I went for the auditions, and I think because Harshad Mehta was also Gujarati, my patois added to the authenticity of the character.
Considering there is little information available on how Harshad Mehta was in his personal life, how did you prepare for the role?
There’s a lot of material available regarding the scam he was involved in but there is very little about how he was as a person, and this made it quite challenging to prepare for the role. But we collectively thought of approaching him from a human and emotional aspect. After reading the 550-page script which is detailed research in itself, I decided to focus on the characteristics in him which would bring his personality alive, such as his ego, confidence, passion and arrogance.
How was it to work with Hansal Mehta?
I thought he would be a stern director because of the kind of serious films he makes, but he is a chilled out person. He is a complete actor’s director. He lets his actors explore the character the way they want to, but he also guides us on the finer aspects of the performance. He is not the type of coach who will take a bat in his hand to teach you how to play the shots, but he is the type who will talk to you and make you understand how to play them.
If Harshad Mehta were alive, would you have met and spoken to him?
I would have loved to meet him. There is a lot to learn from him as an individual. During the entire process, I realised that he was a very passionate man. Maybe his approach to being successful wasn’t the right route, but his passion intrigues me. I would have asked him for tips on investing my money.
Since you have played the role of the 'Big Bull', are you confident of investing in and making money from the stock market?
I am a Gujarati and everybody thinks we are very good at business. But I come from a family of teachers. We have never done any business or invested in stocks. But yes, it is an interesting area to learn more about.
What do you do when you aren’t busy with film shoots?
I workout a lot. I love to read Gujarati literature. I am also an engineer so I keep myself busy with designing and help others develop apps.
You are a seasoned theatre artiste. What are your thoughts on theatre going digital?
Theatre cannot be digital. It needs to be performed live. A lot of people are trying to adapt plays to a digital platform. But scripts completely change with the medium. So what’s happening online cannot be termed as theatre.