Actor Prabal Panjabi, who is seen essaying the role of Aniket in bindass’ Tere Liye Bro, says that outsiders are much more talented than the insiders in the industry, however, the insiders have opportunities, better access to networking, but a balance of it is required.
Excerpts from the interview;
When did you decide to pick up acting as a career option?
I was still in college when a senior of mine who had just graduated became a producer on a Disney TV series called ‘Kya Mast Hai Life’. I landed a gig on that show. While it was never a defiant career choice, I started enjoying all aspects of cinema.
Initially it was about surviving and thriving in Bombay. We know the rents are high and the apartments are small. But my passion for it began on the stage in school. It was the first thing that drew me slightly away from sports and I was like how can something engage me more than being on a field. This must be my calling.
Who was your biggest support in your decision?
My family without a doubt! All of them! My mom, dad and sister and a lot of people who have grown alongside me in this city.
As an actor, what preparations do you make to get into the skin of the character?
To be honest, I haven’t done a lot of preparations as an actor. I try to let go. I let go of my inhibitions. Some workshops have given me certain tools to incorporate while performing, but a lot of times, it is pure instinct and it goes wrong at times.
There are times when you look back at something and go Aah! I could have done that differently. Also living a fulfilling life otherwise away from your work is also highly enriching as an actor.
Comedy seems to be your forte. Are you afraid of experimenting with genres?
Not at all! Comedy is something that people think I am only good at. I believe I have a good range as an actor. It’s also about getting a good meaty role which is diverse and not one dimensional.
People have appreciated you for your comic timing and one-liners. But how difficult is it to make people laugh?
Intention is the key and having your own state of being is important. It gives you timing; it gives insight into what someone will find funny or not. Also your own authenticity and being effortless is important as trying too hard to be funny will never make people laugh.
How different is it to act in a film and in a web series or television show?
I think one of the major differences would be the time factor. There is more time in a film, before during and after. I think with the web explosion, a lot of the production gets constrained, because of budget and time issues. I do feel there is more gravitas while working in a film; the stakes are higher for everyone working on it.
With web I feel people are taking their craft a little more lightly. I mean we are living in an era where there is so much content being produced on a daily basis. You will just be a blink and a miss if you don’t spend more time and effort on your own craft respectively.
Talking about Shahid, that was a different movie. What made you decide to sign that film?
It was accidental. I bumped into the casting director outside his office and he made me meet the director who told me to grow my beard and show up on set. It was accidental, but it was enriching. I always wanted to be in an indie film and get the feel of it, the tag of it. You don’t have vanity vans, there is not a lot of HOO HAA! It is about the story, the performance and coming to the truth of it.
Share something about your character Aniket in Tere Liye Bro?
Aniket or the projection of Aniket, in bindass’ ‘Tere Liye Bro’ is someone who doesn’t take life too seriously. He wants to make the most of it with his buddies and he always has a cheeky grin on his face. He is the kind of person who would talk to a CEO or a janitor the same way.
So how is Aniket different from Prabal in real life?
He’s a bit more over the top, than me. He drinks more than me, at least from what is mentioned in the script. And he is left handed. Hah! I would say he is more switched on.
If not an actor, then what would Prabal have been today?
I keep asking myself that every other day. I have just started writing; let’s see where that takes me. I have always enjoyed art and sports. Either of the two; I constantly keep reminding myself of one thing though. Be a verb in a world full of nouns. I think Stephen Fry said that. It allows you to explore your mind and your being more.
Do you agree with the fact that being an outsider is a disadvantage in this industry?
Absolutely! There is way too much talent in an outsider, than the insiders. The insiders have opportunities, better access to networking, all of it. I think a balance of it is required. There will be too many things an insider will be able to pull off which an outsider wouldn’t dare approach and vice versa.
So how would you describe your journey so far in the industry?
It’s been up and down. Sometimes the closer you get to it, you don’t enjoy the things you see, and sometimes you want to just have blinders and create what you want to create. There was a time in the middle when I was hosting a travel show and I was in and out of Bombay for two years. I felt disconnected and was out of contacts by the time I settled back again. Nonetheless, it’s a journey; it’s still on-going with new surprises in store, work and otherwise.
What are your New Year resolutions?
My resolution is to create more. Keep tweaking life here and there, before and after on a daily basis but never specifically around the New Year.
One thing that is certain is that I will be working more this coming year.