Mumbai Saga debut actor Vivaan Parashar played a lot of cricket to get the right look as gangster Sadashiv
We’ve heard of actors trimming down with insane, intense workout routines and diets for a movie. But for actor Vivaan Parashar, who is making his debut as a Bollywood actor with the action-thriller Mumbai Saga that releases this Friday in theatres, it was quite a different experience. Vivaan reveals he was asked to stop gymming to get the apt, thug-like, tough look for his character of gangster Sadashiv.
The actor tells us more about the film, his preparation for the role and why he chose to not debut in film produced by his father director Pankuj Parashar:
How are you feeling ahead of the release of Mumbai Saga?
I’m feeling all sorts of emotions right now. I’m very excited, and of course, I’m a little nervous as well. I’m taking each day as it comes, actually, because the fans of the film keep tagging me (in posts); they keep reminding me, ‘Now, seven days are left, six days are left.’ The second they start messaging me with that—and in between the promotions—I get the reminder again that we’re so close now. It’s very exciting, but it’s a little nerve-wracking, which is fun.
What is Mumbai Saga going to be about, and what is your role going to entail? Not much has been revealed on that topic.
So, the film is based in the gangster era, between the ’80s and ’90s decade. The movie is about the rise of these boys and how they become gangsters, what happens after that. And it’s a lot about the era of that time (an idea of what used to be ‘Bombay’). My role is one of the boys (Sadashiv) from John Abraham’s ‘gangster group’ in Mumbai Saga.
How did you bag the role of Sadashiv in Mumbai Saga?
I had done a short film called Skin of Marble with Mr. Naseeruddin Shah that got a lot of acclaim. That was viewed by Nadeem Shah, who is the associate director of Mumbai Saga. He showed it to Mr. Sanjay Gupta (director of Mumbai Saga). In fact, they called me for a couple of look tests, and that entire month and a half, I had to give tests for Mumbai Saga. After one and a half months, I finally got to know that I’m a part of the film. The second look test went on for five to six hours because I had a complete makeover. If you see my face now and if you see it in the movie, it’s literally two different people. They wanted to get that look to see if I’ll be able to look like someone from that era. They were happy with my appearance and I was asked to sign the contract after that.
What was your fitness routine to get that perfect look for a gangster?
My lifestyle had to change completely because I was into gymming. I used to go and lift weights and I was actually in the middle of a transformation program to get that chiselled physique. Once I got selected for the film, I had a word with Sanjeev Sir and his team, and they told me that I should look like this guy (gangster Sadashiv in Mumbai Saga) who has not gymmed or worked out at all. Since I’m into fitness, people could look at me and say, ‘Okay, this guy works out.’ Now, I had to basically do the opposite. Normally, it’s the other way round where you don’t work out and you have to get into that. In this case, I had to completely give it up.
What new things did you attempt for the movie...
For some physical stunts in the movie, I used to go and run on empty train tracks with my trainers to know how it feels. I also tried it with Kolhapuri chappals for the character. Then, I learned to drive a bike for the film, so I joined the Enfield Riders. I also played a lot of cricket every day to get the right frame for his character, as mentioned earlier.
One unique experience on the sets of Mumbai Saga?
I’ve always been a big fan of Emraan sir and John Abraham sir since I was in school. When I worked with John Sir, I got to establish a relationship with him. But with Emraan Sir, we had only two days of shoot and I wanted to tell him I was a fan and get my script signed by every member of the cast, but I couldn’t. Once the shoot with him was over and he was packing up, I just ran to his van and told him how I was a big fan of him and kept talking for 15 minutes. He was looking at me and laughing. He signed my script and I got a picture with him.
What were the challenges you faced with regard to the whole movie experience?
There were a lot of challenges, first, to be composed, because it was such a big opportunity towork with such big people. So I had to be in the right frame of mind and the right temperament because you can get nervous and anxious at such a big stage. Preparing for the character from a different era was challenging. I really wanted to get into it, figure out and read up on what exactly the script is about. Also, my character (in the movie) is Maharashtrian. So, I had to work on my diction. I used to sit every day with my neighbour, who is Marathi, and do my lines with him to tweak my speech. I am a theatre artiste so I had to understand how different it is to work in a film. I realised there's more time to improvise in theatre. It is more of an actor’s medium... I feel films are a director’s medium, which is more technical. The priority is given to cameras, settings, and aesthetics; the actor is just a part of it. The time given to prepare for the role is much shorter when compared to theatre.
What inspired you to take the path of other debutants and act in a film by another director, instead of working on a project with your father for your debut?
This project was amazing, and something that I think no actor could say ‘no’ to. It is such a prestigious project. As far as working with my father (director Pankuj Parashar, who has helmed films like Jalwa, Chalbaaz, and TV series Karamchand starring Vivaan) is concerned, both of us were clear that that’s not how I want to start in the industry. I wanted to start on my own merit. I started acting at 12 and have gotten a break at 25. 13 years of work. I’m happy with how it happened, and I’m grateful for this journey.