Sahil Vaid talks about life as an actor, motorcycle-collector, musician, and what it’s like to live with Mufasa and Bagheera!
Actor Sahil Vaid, who has starred prominently in films like Dil Bechara, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, and Badrinath Ki Dulhania among others, opens up about his experience as not just an actor, but also as a story-writer, a musician, a cat-lover, and a collector of motorcycles!
He recently acted in Silence: Can You Hear it?, which hit the theatres on March 26. Some of the actor’s upcoming movies include Satyamev Jayate 2, which will be releasing on May 13, and Suswagatm Khushaamadeed for which the shoot is underway.
How was your experience working with late actor Sushant Singh Rajput in Dil Bechara?
It’s almost going to be a year in a couple of months since we lost him. Working with him was an eye-opening experience. Watching him work on set gave me this hope that if you’re from the bylanes of “somewhere, somewhere”, know that it’s possible. Know that you can do it.
I don’t know why it happened; it shouldn’t have happened. That boy gave me hope. We would have conversations that were never-ending, about relativity, the cosmos, and even populating Mars.
Although we were the same age, he was much ahead of me. He told me once that we all have different lifespans, which sounds eerie, thinking back right now. He had also said, “Everybody has their own path. Mine is different, yours is different.”
What does your role in Silence entail?
I play Inspector Amit Chauhan, as the poster suggests. This is my attempt to break the stereotypes that I’ve already created in the past, with Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Badrinath Ki Dulhania. People think of me as a comedian actor only, which I, in fact, discovered through the process of shooting for Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania.
(Meanwhile, Sahil plays the role of a police officer in Silence, taking on a more serious role)
Silence was a no-brainer. It was a film where we’re police officers and we’re trying to solve a murder mystery.
When I read the script, I thought, ‘Fine, it’s a murder mystery. It’s a role I’ve not done before, let’s do this.’ But when I read the script, (I realised) it’s not just a who-done-it. It’s more like a ‘how-done-it’. The how is more interesting than the who.
What were the preparations/changes you had to make for your look as a police officer?
I’ve had to change a lot of things. I had to change my eating habits; I mean, I’m not extremely fit in the film, but I had to start. I had to walk like a police officer, talk like a police officer, and I had to unlearn a lot of things.
We also tend to fall into the trap of stereotypes, when nobody is experimenting with you for years and years and everybody starts giving you the same type of roles, we also fall into that trap of comfort level. So, I had to really get out of that comfort level and I had to tone my performance down by many notches. So, I had to get out of the comic role to get into this role as a police officer.
How were you able to overcome these challenges you mentioned?
My training. I had to go back to the days when I was still struggling to become an actor. I had to go back to that time when we let go of everything you’ve made of yourself and kind of start again. Starting again is the biggest challenge.
Moving on in life, for actors—it’s part of our job. I had to fall back on my training to remind myself that I’m an actor. I’m not a comedian; I’m not anything else. Once I convinced myself of that, it became easy. So, I wouldn’t call them challenges, I would call them “laziness-breakers”.
When and how did this journey begin for you in acting?
I started acting in 1997 on the stage. I was a kid and I had started doing plays and workshops. I felt that was the only place where I felt accepted, connected, and nobody judged me. I started young, so the most natural transition for me was to come to Bombay and act in movies. I went to film school. I studied filmmaking, editing, and direction and I specialized in acting.
Later, I got my initial recognition through theatre. Naseer Sir is not the kind of director who casts you again. If he’s casting you as an actor in his play more than once, it means that he likes you as an actor. I mean, a Guru liking you as an actor is a far bigger certificate than a FilmFare award or an IFRA award.
Then you have a pressure to fulfill. You keep going back to the theatre and outdoing yourself. Because the minute you stop doing that, you stop being an actor. That’s how my journey actually started. It’s been 15 years in Bombay; it’s been slow, but it’s been good.
You mentioned that you had learned editing and direction. Do you have any plans to go in that direction?
I have written films which I have not been credited for or paid for. So yes, I would love to tell the world that ‘I’ve written this film.’
At the same time, I would also love to direct a film in the near future. That’s probably when you’ll see the way I think. As an actor, I portray other people’s characters, other people’s ideas, because that’s my job, and I enjoy doing that. I’m enjoying being an actor for that.
But, eventually, becoming a director—I’ve always dreamed of telling stories. I thought telling stories as an actor would be fun, and it is. But I discovered this craft of direction and writing, and I realised that most of the control of telling the story is with these people, the most powerful people in our film industry—the writers and the directors.
So, yeah, I’d like to try my hand at that.
How do you balance your work and personal life when you have multiple projects lined up?
I won’t lie to you, I don’t have much of a personal life. Now, my life revolves around my career. I love my job. So, all of my personal life revolves around my career.
I enjoy the conversations with my brother. He keeps giving me inputs about how I was in a certain film, what I should try next time.
Balancing personal life and professional life is something that happens on its own (for me). I’m glad it’s that way because if I have the pressure to balance both, I don’t think I’ll be able to freely go out and perform the way I do. So, I guess I’m lucky that way. I don’t really have to think about my personal life. There is guilt in such relationships where you can take each other for granted. I believe taking each other for granted wilfully and accepted by two parties is the most beautiful relationship of all. If I’m working, and my mother understands that I’m not available right now. I do get back to her though.
People who have to think about their personal life and professional life in different terms, I salute them, and I think it’s very great to balance both.
What are your other hobbies and interests?
I love playing musical instruments. I have a band, but I couldn’t really pursue that as a career. I love motorcycles. I love fixing them, building them, riding them. I have a motorcycle collection!
I love my vehicles, and I have names for some of them: Billo, Guleil, Hathodi, and Kirpaan. I’m in the process of acquiring another motorcycle, and I already have a name for her: Sherni.
Apart from that, I have two beautiful cats who are my family here in Mumbai. One is called Mufasa, and the other one is Bagheera.
That’s my life in a nutshell. I do theatre; I go back to the theatre whenever I get an opportunity. I do plays. I work with my tutor very closely. If I’m not acting in a play, I have a technical hand in the play—I do lights and sound.
If I find time, I also go back to my film school and conduct classes there. I teach acting; I teach speech and voice pitching, and occasionally, I direct plays.
How did the pandemic have an impact on your work? Were any of your projects delayed?
I do a lot of dubbing and voice work, and I built a studio in my house. So, when the lockdown hit, I realised that I had a studio. I did a lot of work through the lockdown. I literally didn’t have time to sleep or even eat. I consider myself lucky that I got the lion’s share of the work if not in front of the camera, but in front of the microphone.
I had so many projects and I couldn’t rest because my people needed me. These people had supported me when I was not an actor, when I was still in training, and this is my way to convey my thanks.
The actor concludes on an inspiring and optimistic note that one needs to be versatile and flexible when it comes to choosing one’s path.