Actor Nakul Roshan Sahdev gets candid about movies, ice creams and long drives
Just back from Nainital after winding up his shoot for the Richa Chadha and Ronit Roy starrer Candy, Nakul Roshan Sahdev couldn’t be happier. “I love the mountains,” admits the young actor whose latest feature, Pagglait will be releasing on an OTT platform today. Hailing from Udaipur, Rajasthan, the actor of Gully Boy fame trained at the Whistling Woods International film school. In fact, he gets to work with his acting coach, Jameel Khan, in Pagglait that is directed by Umesh Bist. Having bagged a lead role in Farrey by Zeishan Quadri (one of the writersof Gangs of Wasseypur), Nakul is all about getting into character and learning on the sets. Currently busy setting up his new home in Mumbai, Nakul gets candid about his movies, passions and the OTT platform. Excerpts from the interview:
Do tell us what drew you to the script for Pagglait?
Pagglait is a great script and is very relevant to the social environment in India. Behind the comedy and light-hearted humour — there is a very important subject. Revolving around parenting and how youngsters need support and encouragement when they take off on the road less travelled — and not harsh judgment that creates self doubt. I have been there. I was really lucky that my parents were very supportive. However, when I moved out, I had to face barbs from the extended family. In fact, some of my cousins were asked not to hang out with me as I could be a bad influence! I was like — why? Am I a drug addict or some delinquent? I just want to be an actor. Let me dream my mad dream.
The cast has some powerful and familiar talent, do tell us about your experience with them.
Working with Sheeba Chaddha was a learning experience and conversations with her on the sets would change my perception — not just as an actor but as a human too. Meanwhile, Sanya (Malhotra) would bring something new to every take — creating space for fresh ideas that were about more than just following the script. My favourite is of course daddi — when my grandmother saw the trailer, she was really thrilled to see daddi, an elderly character role, and said — “oh, so I can also become an actor!”
What is your take on films on the OTT platforms? How do you think it will impact the scripts?
I feel that OTT platforms have changed the narrative of the scripts — starting from Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur. The location has become part of the narrative. The culture, the dialect — it becomes part of the film prominently. I feel I have been very fortunate that way — because I got to experience some varied worlds in my recent films. For Farrey, I had to learn the Bihari dialect. Thankfully, I signed up before lockdown — so I had time to train well for it. Coming to censorship issues, I feel that technology has to be monitored not the content. For instance, we could have a separate app for a certain grade of films that requires profile checks… just a thought.
What is your idea of unwinding after a day’s work?
Sometimes, when I just can’t get away from work and cannot travel to a mountain — my respite is long drives. I take my script and take off for a drive. The vehicles on my wish list are the Mercedes G-Wagon and the Lamborghini Urus SUV — but they will have to wait till I can make much more money!
How do you prep physically for your various roles? What about your fitness regimen and diet?
I have been practising mixed martial arts for a while now — it helps me understand physical requirements of my roles too. In Farrey, the story has me playing two age categories — and I needed to lose weight as the younger version. I know that all I have to do is start running and get on to a strict diet. In fact, I would take my skipping rope to the sets too. When it comes to food, homely comfort food like dal kichidi (yes, with ghee) is my favourite. But my ultimate cheat meal is ice cream. When I binge watch movies — I can polish off an entire tub all by myself. I love gelato — I love the texture, the taste…. One of my favourites is the Berry Blast from London Dairy. Fun fact: my taste buds cannot identify salt — so it really works for me when I am on a diet! Meanwhile, I am rather particular about my food. When I travel, all the excess baggage is food! I carry my smoothie maker and my aeropress everywhere I go. I am often teased that ‘I drink my food!’ But that’s true — even as a child my favourite lunch was a banana and chikoo milkshake, rather than rotis.
You must be having a workout playlist?
Right now I am listening to Bruno Mars’ Finesse and Break My Heart Again by Finneas — I am still in the mountain mood. I really don’t have a genre — it’s about the zone I am in. I can shadow box to romantic tracks and then switch to Eminem or Aerosmith!
What are you reading currently?
Right now I am reading Zero to One — it’s about start-ups. My brother has a startup that deals with e bikes — so the subject interests me immensely. But if you ask me what my comfort reads are, then it is Tuesdays with Morrie (a memoir by American author Mitch Albom) and Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho. I do like biographies and one of my favourites is Steve Jobs’. In fact, that book led me to Neem Karori Baba and I was introduced to his unique take on religion and faith. Basically it is about spreading love and I have taken that idea even to my sets. If I can get 150 people to fall in love with me then that will translate to my work and the audience will also feel that positivity. It’s this sense of connection that makes me love my work — the reason that I want to be an actor!
Pagglait is streaming on Netflix from today