Wednesday, April 24, 2024

‘I managed to gain over 11 kg for my character, but Hansal Mehta was disappointed’

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Actor Gagan Dev Riar, who is currently gaining immense love and fame for his recent portrayal of Abdul Karim Telgi in Scam 2003, gets candid with The Pioneer about being a part of the Hansal Mehta helmer, hardships
before bagging the project, and more.
Tejal Sinha
A web series that has been talk-of-the-town for quite a while—Scam 2003, streaming on Sony LIV. Hansal Mehta is the co-director, while Tushar Hiranandani is the director. The series is based on the true story of Abdul Karim Telgi’s stamp paper counterfeitings in the early 2000s, as told in Sanjay Singh’s book ‘Telgi Scam: Reporter’s ki Diary’. It is the second part of the Scam series, which began with Scam 1992. Following the popularity of both, Abdul Karim Telgi’s second volume was just released by the creators, to much praise and raving reviews.
Just not the success of the series, but also, it was through Scam 2003 that actor Gagan Dev Riar too had been all over the news. Initially, the actor had made his debut on the big screen with Sushant Singh Rajput and Manoj Bajpayee’s Sonchariya. However, it was now that he had received much-deserved national fame this year.
An overwhelmed Gagan, beginning this lively chitter-chatter, says, “The response has been amazing. I’ve been receiving some great messages all over social media, including normal messages, and also reading some amazing pieces of journalism published by the media. It feels great that all our hard work is being appreciated.”
Meanwhile, as we discussed the responses and reviews, one thing that has been a sure-shot mention is his performance as Telgi. And he says, “As an actor, all I can do is do my job with the utmost honesty, integrity, and dedication, and it’s only the people who can tell me whether I was successful or not, and with the responses I’m getting for it, it shows that people are loving it. And I hope (he giggles) I have done something good in the process, and I believe that good or bad is not the criteria, but what kind of message we want to make reach the audience, and if that is coming across, then I think my job is done. I’m proud of that and feeling good about it.”
A project, or even a character, to be specific, that is based on a true story or a real-life incident could bring a challenge of its own. An entire plot revolves majorly around this character, and while playing the role, he says, “As an actor, every character that I play is always challenging because you are trying to understand the other skin. It’s like when you have a debate or an argument with another person, you understand the other side of the story, and on the other hand, we have our own beliefs, ethical values, and thought processes about how we want to live our lives. Then there is a person who is living a life that he or she has chosen. With Abdul Karim Telgi, the main question that people ask me is: was he a criminal or a scamster? How was your experience with understanding it, and how did you play it? My answer to that has always been that I try to portray a character with the utmost honesty and from where he or she is coming from. With this as well, I tried to find the reactions or why such actions actually took place. That was my main concern. My aim as an actor was to come from a very honest place and from a place where a person is not trying to do bad but ends up doing bad. That was what I wanted to bring out: that it is easy to tag somebody as bad or good, but it is difficult to understand the reason and cause behind it. That was the base idea I applied to understanding Telgi’s character as well.”
And so, personally, it seemed like the Sonchariya actor was much in love with the character because, “I loved his brain, the way he thought, an amazing talent. and tried to understand and portray.”
Basically, when Scam 2003 was offered to him, he revealed to us that back then he had no work. In fact, he had also gone through a tough time financially, being during the end of the second lockdown. Well, if Scam 2003 hadn’t happened, he would have gone back to his hometown. He recalls further, “If anyone would have asked me to play any character in the world, I would have played that. It was not about this character. I was just getting a role as an actor, which gave me an opportunity to showcase my talent, and I had to say yes. If I  hadn’ said yes, somebody else would have, and somebody else would have been giving you this interview, and I feel privileged to give this interview.”
Well, for all the obvious reasons, he was the first choice of an experienced filmmaker like Hansal Mehta and a talented casting director like Mukesh Chabbra. “I am honored. If Hansal Mehta chose me for the character after seeing me in Sonchariya and A Suitable Boy, he thought of my caliber as an actor. It was a great feeling, and along with it was also a responsibility to not fail in the belief they had in me.”
But guess what? During this chat, we found out how he gained a weight of almost 19 kg for his character. But, but in a healthy way! Yes, he says, “When Hansal sir asked him to gain weight for the first six months, I started to eat more. I’m not a foodie, and I don’t have such taste buds that in the evening all of a sudden I would want to have panipuri. So what I did was increase my proportions. With this, I managed to gain 10–11 kg, but he was a little disappointed because I had to gain more weight, and when he asked me to gain more weight, I told him I couldn’t do it myself and it might be a health hazard. So can we hire a professional who could guide me on how to do it the professional way? Then he brought in Prateek from FitCrew, and he gave me a chart about all that I had to do in a day, including a 10-minute workout in the morning, what intervals, and what to eat. And so I gained weight in a healthy way instead of just having it randomly. I tried to follow as much as I could. I can say I didn’t do it 100 percent because it had to do a lot (he laughs), but it did show the results. It was over 18–19 kg.”
As we head towards the end of this interview, the actor, who is currently reading scripts and conversing with the filmmakers about what they expect from him as an actor, recalls one of the harshest comments, where “a fan had commented saying, ‘iski pant neeche utar nahi rahi hai yeh faltu Mai apna pant upar karra hai. Such an overactor’. I really laughed at that, and again, I had the thought that maybe he was right and maybe I was overreacting. So that comment is going to stay with me, and then there were other comments comparing Scam 1992 and how it can never replace that. But what I feel is that these are like the true criticism.”
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