EXCL: ‘Surrender to the director,’ Maidaan actor Abhilash Thapliyal shares acting insights for newcomers

The Mumbai-based actor is best known for his stints in films like Faadu and Blurr
EXCL: ‘Surrender to the director,’
Maidaan actor Abhilash Thapliyal shares acting insights for newcomers

The snooze button is non-existent for actor Abhilash Thapliyal who is out and about by 8 AM sharp. The actor credits his upbringing as an army kid for this disciplined routine. And that’s not all. No matter which side of the world he wakes up in, the rising star carves out two sacred hours in the day for his radio gig, something he holds very close to his heart.

We caught up with the actor, who is currently basking in the success of his latest release Maidaan where he essayed the role of commentator Dev Matthew. The Mumbai-based star also narrated the film and gave us a sneak peek into his experience working with director Amit R Sharma.

How was your experience shooting for Maidaan and how do you feel now that it’s finally out on the big screens?

Back in 2018, I was one of the first few people Amit Ravindernath Sharma approached for the movie. He had asked me to undergo football training and I had been looking to bag a role ever since. However, destiny had other plans and Amit reached out to me again in 2020 and offered the role of Dev Matthew, a commentator and the narrator of the entire story. We collaborated on the commentary piece for four to five hours before completing the shoot in two days. Although I had a fair idea given that I have done commentary for Formula 1, this experience was quite different. Thankfully, it was received well by the audience.

EXCL: ‘Surrender to the director,’
Maidaan actor Abhilash Thapliyal shares acting insights for newcomers
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Tell us a little more about your character Dev Matthew.

Dev Matthew is someone who is very involved in the game despite not being on the field. In my head, I envisioned a backstory of him as someone who used to play football but couldn’t make it to the team. However, he understands the game well and has a gift of gab which translates into what the audience can now see on the screen. The enjoyment viewers felt stemmed largely from Amit and my interpretation, brought to life through Dev Matthew’s voice.

You began your journey as a radio jockey and then moved on to the field of acting. How did the acting bug get to you?

To be honest, I never really wanted to be an actor. All I wanted was to be a part of Kapil Sharma’s show. I moved to the city with that objective and went on to do a few comedy shows along the way. My first venture into films was not a successful one. However, eventually, I got to be a part of Aspirants. This series marked a departure from my usual roles. Instead of the comic sidekick or the protagonist's best friend, people saw a different side of me. This was followed by Blurr, Faadu, Shehar Lakhot and other good projects.

You’ve experimented with genres such as romance and thriller as well as formats such as web series and films. What are your takeaways as an actor?

My key takeaway is to simply surrender to the director. Filmmaking is a very director-dependent medium and that’s what makes them the captain of the ship. When I worked with Anurag Kashyap for Kennedy, he told me not to complicate things and keep it simple, and I listened to him. That took me to Cannes. So, I do what my directors tell me to do and I think that is the approach I’m going to carry forward.

What’s one piece of advice you have for up-and-coming actors who are struggling to find their way?

While you elaborately plan things out, remember to execute as well. Think less, execute more.

(Written by Subhashini Ramasamy)

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