After being a part of primetime television, Vikrant Massey started a gradual ascent at the movies. From doing small roles in films like Lootera and Dil Dhadakne Do, he slowly graduated to playing complex characters and impressed us with the shelled up Shutu in A Death In The Gunj, the hopeful Amol in Chhapaak, the morally bankrupt Pradeep in Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare and the bright and shiny Sunny in Ginny Weds Sunny, his first commercial venture. Despite his art cinema credentials, Vikrant has the ability to walk onto any set and make every role his own. He may not be a hunk but has been called the thinking woman’s sex symbol. We caught up with the actor who is slowly earning the sobriquet of Mr Dependable with each of his releases…
Yes, it’s fairly new for the audience to see me acting like a typical hero. It was a conscious decision on my part. As an actor, you want to tap into the diet of the massy audience at least once in your life. It felt like the right time because I’ve already done a lot of intense stuff. I needed a breather from that. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Yami Gautam. The entire cast and crew were like a family because we were together for nearly two months. A strong sense of camaraderie existed on the sets. I think it also reflected in the feedback we got for the film. It’s a nice and happy film, especially in times like these when our minds have turned negative.
Did you ever feel out of place while shooting for Ginny Weds Sunny?
I was looking for something spontaneous and this came along. But yes, now that I think about it, I did miss my staple diet which is drama and alternate cinema. I’m really looking forward to starting filming again and getting back into my space with Haseen Dilruba.
How was it dancing in a film? You’ve never done it at this scale before.
I used to dance professionally on stage but had never done it in front of the camera before. I was blessed with a great team. The choreographer was so supportive, as was Yami, who shook a leg with me. Dancing has always been a very close part of my life. So I just went out there to enjoy myself. I will always cherish the days I spent dancing in front of the camera.
it’s surprising that you should go towards masala entertainer when there’s a shift happening towards content-driven cinema? What was the transition like and what do you feel about this shift?
It’s actually great because there’s an entire ecosystem that has fought for it for years. Because of the advent of the streaming platforms, this dawned upon us in a rush. We got exposed to international content and our content too got exposed internationally, all in one go. It’s a level-playing field for everyone. I will also concede to the fact that in India the single-screen theatres cater to a different audience altogether. But yes, the shift is prominent. As for me, it was a conscious decision to try this and tick that box. I also wanted to experiment and it felt like the right time. There is now a sense of realism in everything we do and I’ve always said, cinema and society are interrelated and intertwined. So it’s a great time for creative people to go out and tell stories.
With four releases in 2020, you were lucky than most. How did the year go for you?
It’s been like it’s been for everyone else, besides the work aspect. Things have been how they’ve been for most people. The last six to seven months have been challenging for all of us. I’ve missed shooting and being on a film set. Luckily, I did get the opportunity to be on sets during an ad film. It’s also been a period of introspection in a lot of ways. The initial few months of the lockdown and the things that happened around us grabbed everyone’s attention. It was exactly the case with me. But after that, it was full of introspection and filled with gratitude. I’ve understood the fragility of life. Though I had four releases this year, I did miss out on meeting people. But no complaints.
Chhapaak, Cargo, Dolly Kitty Aur Chamakte Sitare and Ginny Weds Sunny… which was your favourite to work on and how was the transition from one to the other?
I have always been someone who represents realism and alternate cinema. It’s something I enjoy because I love drama and talking about interpersonal relationships. So I would say Chhapaak was very special for me this year and so was Cargo. A lot depends on what the film is trying to say. It is not always about what you are doing or how important your part is. That has never been my case. So Chhapaak was socially relevant. I was proud to be associated with that film.
You learn a lot from the people who work with. Especially when you spend not a few days, but months together. There are days you get vulnerable in front of each other. There are bonds and relationships you build over time. So it would be hard to pick one thing because there’s so much to each one of them. But if I were to pick one, then I’d say I’ve learnt a lot from Deepika Padukone, while working with her in Chhapaak. Her poise, grace and calm are something I admire a lot. Her conduct, especially at workplaces is admirable. It’s so endearing and inspiring to see someone of her stature being so diligent with her work and her temperament.
Konkona Sen Sharma the actor or director, who do you prefer?
I’d choose Konkona the director any day. I’m one of the millions fans she has. I want to see her on the screen as well. But the time I spent with her during A Death In The Gunj, where she navigated me as Shutu, will always be special for me. She will always be one of the most gifted directors I’ve worked with. She is very sensitive as a person and that’s a special quality. The times that we are living in, in terms of all the negativity around, it’s a rarity and a blessing to be around someone who has her heart in the right place. I’ve learnt so many things from her. I look up to her in so many ways and would choose her as a director at the drop of a hat.
How was it working with Alankrita Srivastava again in Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare after Lipstick Under My Burkha?
The names we are mentioning here are all supremely talented and independent women. They have strong heads over their shoulders. Alankrita, as a director, is one of those people I trust blindly. I’d go shoot for her even without reading my part. As much as she’s open to suggestions, she knows what she wants from her actors. Half your job is taken care of when you’re working with someone like her. On a lighter note, her obsession with roses has increased with time. From Lipstick… up until Dolly Kitty… you’ll always find a reference of a red rose somewhere. Our style of storytelling or the things we want to say are pretty much alike.
Streaming platforms became the sole source of entertainment during the pandemic. Where do you see this going in the future, once things get back to normal?
I’ve always felt that streaming platforms and movie theatres, or any other entertainment platform, all of these can co-exist. A lot of questions have been asked about which one will outdo the other. I think the two mediums can peacefully coexist like they did before the lockdown. The larger purpose is to tell stories.
How was your experience of working in Haseen Dilruba?
It’s been great working with Taapsee Pannu and director Vinil Mathew, and producer Aanand L. Rai. Unfortunately, it’ll always be the one thing that’ll come to my mind when I talk about this film, we were about to finish the film when the lockdown happened. It’s a special film and a special part that I am playing. I can’t wait for it to come out. It’s written by Kanika Dhillon and you know, it’s been beautiful on the set. Taapsee has been a great co-actor.