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Adarsh Gourav Speaks On The Experience In “The White Tiger”



Adarsh Gourav Whose  Outstanding Performance  In  The White Tiger Has Won Him Exceptional Praise Globally, Speaks  To Subhash  K Jha On  the  Experience

Adarsh I  first saw  you    in   film  called  Rukh  5 years  ago. Did you see the sudden  global acclaim  coming?

 I am not  one to over-think.I just feel good that our efforts in The White Tiger  have been rewarded. It was  important  for us  to be recognized  in India  as well. This is where the  plot unfolds.

 But the  theme of  caste and economic discrimination is germane to every society?

Absolutely, Sir!  This discrimination between the haves  and have-nots is universal.That’s why the  novel  (by Arvind Aadiga)  won the Man Booker prize.

Look at the racial  violence in America. Or  a film like Parasites  which   also addressed  the  issue  of   socio-economic  disparity,  I like The White Tiger more,  though?

That’s a huge compliment .We’ve worked really hard on  giving a coherent shape to the novel. On  a personal note,I’ve slogged hard to get the character in  place.

Has  it been a long struggle  for you as an outsider  in  the  Hindi film industry? Were you disappointed when Rukh didn’t fetch you  the  recognition you  deserved?

Disappointment toh nahi  hui. I never  go into  a role with any expectations except to do my best. I always  harboured  a deep desire to  work not just in Hindi cinema  but also Tamil, Telugu , Malayalam and  international cinema , if possible. That The White Tiger came to me was  providential. But I never harboured  any desire to be  a star  or anything like that. I grew up influenced by  actors who were not necessarily stars.

 Who are these actors?

Irrfan Khan, Naseeruddin Shah,Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Om Puri, at some point I liked Aamir Khan.More than stardom, it was the idea of being in relevant cinema that appealed to me. Just having a romantic track in a big-budged film somehow  didn’t appeal to me.I would have more  fun playing the villain than the romantic hero.Not that I have anything but  respect for mainstream cinema and I’ve great  respect  for mainstream  actors and  at some point I’d like to  do a  singing and dancing role.

How did  The White Tiger come to you?

I read the book at 13.  It was surprising because I  wasn’t much into reading at that age. My parents had  to push me  into reading  while I preferred to play outside. But somehow Arvind Aadiga’s  novel  found  its way  into our home, and I  was hooked. I loved the way Balram saw the world and the way he named  people around him after animals. I do that  too.

 Really? I  shudder to think which animal you’d name  me after.

(laughs uproariously)  The possibilities are limitless…But seriously I had great fun reading the novel. Cut to 2017, I was jobless. I was ready do anything connected with cinema. I just wanted to be occupied and make some money. At  that time  I got a call from casting director Tess Joseph . I had reached out to her earlier to let her know  of my existence. As luck would have it, I was  called for the audition  of  The White Tiger. My only motivation for doing the audition was to be called for  more auditions. That  I’d actually  get the part of Balram  was  a thought that didn’t even cross my mind.I wanted to give  a good audition. I did  2-3 scenes.

Did you prepare for  the audition?

Of course I always do. But only a 2-3 day  preparation. Maine  audition de diya. I  felt nothing about it. After a while Tess called to say I was  shortlisted. That didn’t mean much. I’ve been shortlisted  for a 100 roles. Out of which I’ve got 15 roles. So an audition was nothing to  celebrate. After   the  director Ramin Bharani  joined in  the third round of  auditions. I began to get hopeful. I bought  a shirt  and  a trousers  from the station for 100-150 rupees and wore them  for my auditions. They would constantly tell me there were  other actors  under  consideration   for Balram’s  part. But strangely I never saw  anyone else. Sometimes  I felt they were just fooling me  about others , that they had already made up their mind  to cast me.

So when  did you actually get hopeful?

Before Ramin left for LA he told I  was under serious consideration.When Ramin called   and he  asked, ‘Would you like to play Balram?’ I can’t describe to you  my emotions at that moment .Above all, I was relieved.

Obviously  a lot of  preparation went into playing the character?

 Yes,  the first thing I did was to find someone  who would take me  to a village in Jharkhand. But I had no friends  from that area. Finally  a friend of a friend from Jharkhandagreed  to take me to   his  village , where I spent  a month. We had to  use five modes  of transportation  to get there.I requested him not to tell anyone in the village  I was an actor.

That’s an exceptional level of  preparation?

I got  more than three months to prepare. Where do I get so much time to prepare over here? If one is  a great actor like Naseer, Nawaz or Irrfan  one can prepare in  no time.  A mediocre actor like me  needs time. It’s like the brainy  student who crams  at the last minute and scores  90 percent,and the  student who slogs the whole year and gets 50  percent.

By which  yardstick are  you  a mediocre actor?

I have  just  started out . I’ve a lot to learn. After The White Tiger I have no other assignment. There  are  talks.  I want to take up projects that have something to say.

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