Everyman actor: 'The White Tiger' fame Adarsh Gourav

In the new American series, Extrapolations, Adarsh Gourav plays a truck driver caught in the climate crisis
Actor Adarsh Gourav. (Photo |m Adarsh Gourav Twitter)
Actor Adarsh Gourav. (Photo |m Adarsh Gourav Twitter)

If slow and steady had a face, it would be Adarsh Gourav’s. The actor, who shot to fame in 2021 with The White Tiger, now has a slew of projects this year. There’s Kho Gaye Hum Kahan with Ananya Panday and Siddhant Chaturvedi, there’s Raj & DK’s Guns and Gulaabs, and his crowning glory—the recently released science-fiction series on climate change, Extrapolations, which also stars Hollywood stalwarts such as Meryl Streep, Edward Norton and Kit Harington among others.

It is Gourav’s unassuming presence in the industry until a few years ago that makes his rise almost meteoric. His most popular role until The White Tiger was playing an engineering student in Hotel Daze, a comedy series on Amazon Prime, although he had appeared in evidently missable roles in My Name is Khan (as young Shah Rukh Khan), Sridev’s Mom (as one of the antagonists) and Anurag Kashyap’s short film, Clean Shaven, among a few others.   

“I owe everything to The White Tiger. It gave me new opportunities and access to writers, directors and producers,” says Gourav, who bagged a BAFTA nomination for his portrayal of a chauffeur, who is a victim of class discrimination. The film also starred Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Rajkummar Rao.

In Extrapolations, Gourav plays a truck driver in rural India who, in the face of the worsening climate crisis, takes to smuggling seeds across the subcontinent to make money. He stars in the fifth episode of the series helmed by American filmmaker Scott Z Burns, best known for Contagion. The episode is directed by Richie Mehta of Delhi Crime fame. “It was a challenging role, especially from the preparation point of view. 

I like to understand the character’s personal politics, relationship dynamics and world view. In this series, now that the world is going to end, my character’s only motivation is money, and when he finds out there are £10,000 involved in the smuggling business, he takes it up,” the actor says.

For Mumbai-based Gourav though, simply following the script is not enough. He is a method actor, and feels the need to identify with his character emotionally. “I went to Nagpur and met farmers and some of the widows. 

I learnt to drive a truck. Some days, I would just sit next to a truck driver, while he drove around for several hours, and just ask him questions––what does he do when he is away from his family? What does he eat? How does he unwind?” Gourav says, adding, “The entire reason for me to act and be a storyteller is because I am interested in people. When you get the opportunity to be someone else, you embrace all  of their conflicts and victories.”

Besides being based on a topical subject, Extrapolations also has a diverse cast, including actors with Asian, South American and African heritages such as Eiza González, Daveed Diggs, Forest Whitaker and Gemma Chan.

Does that mean Gourav has more characters written for Asians coming his way? “Stereotypes are getting broken. It is, however, not just about colour-blind casting. What is also important is for diverse writers to be included in such setups,” he says, adding, “When there are more writers from the subcontinent in the West, they will be more responsible for accurate representations, or imagining us playing characters belonging to different professions. The West is slowly realising that India is the next big market and this will only get better for technicians, writers, directors and actors. It is a great time to be around,” he says.

“I owe everything to The White Tiger. It gave me new opportunities and access to writers, directors and producers.” 

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