Raavan Leela, your Bollywood debut, is this a sequel of sorts to Sanjay Bhansali’s Ram Leela?
(Laughs) No no. No relation. Raavan Leela, directed by Hardik Gajjar is officially my debut as a leading man, the central protagonist in Bollywood. Hence very special. It was also an unforgettable experience for a very personal reason which I’d like to share with you.
Apart from being my first Hindi film where I played the hero, two life-changing things happened during the film’s shooting. One was the call I received from Hansal Mehta when I was shooting in Bhuj for Raavan Leela. Hansal Sir told me, ‘We’re planning a series on the life of Harshad Mehta. When are you in Mumbai next?’ The other phone call (Pratik’s voice drops) was from my mother informing me that my father was seriously ill and hospitalised. This was in May 2018. In November 2018 I lost my father. A lot of emotions are attached to Raavan Leela. So I really have really high hopes from it.
I believe you have another project with the same director?
Yes, Atithee Bhooto Bhava where I’ve the honour of sharing screen space with Jackie Shroff. I signed that project after the success of Scam 1992. This (Raavan Leela) was completed before Scam 1992 started streaming.
Yes I shot for this film in May 2018. It’s a very special subject for many reasons. And not only because it gave me my first break as leading man in mainstream Hindi film industry. It’s releasing on October 1.
Why did it take so long to release?
I guess the director had to bear his own struggle in putting the project together. Things were different before Scam 1992.Now after its success, the Mumbai film industry has a lot of faith in me. That’s how they managed to complete the film and now it’s going to be released.
Do you see trouble ahead? I mean, Sanjay Bhansali had to go through hell for Ram Leela and had to finally change the title to Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram Leela?
I know. Well, as the title suggests Raavan Leela is a very sensitive subject. It is based on the theme of the dual personality. There is Rama and Raavan within all of us. The good thoughts , the good side is Rama. The other side is Raavan, the evil side. There is both Ram and Raavan within us. And there is a constant fight between the two sides. Whether the Ram or the Ravan within us win is what makes us who we are. There is another angle to this dichotomy.
What is that?
Today we are living in a world driven by perceptions. If the world perceives you as evil, then the onus is on you to prove them wrong. That’s a very tricky situation. If the world perceives you as Raavan then you have to prove yourself to be Ram, if you are not Raavan. I am thankful to the entire team of Raavan Leela for trusting me with the lead in such a delicate subject at a time when I was not a known name and face in Hindi cinema.
Scam 1992 did the trick for you?
Yes, I can never thank Hansal Mehta enough. Because of Scam I became known all across the world. Because of Scam I got this film Raavan Leela. I hope I get the same love and support of the audience for this film that I got for Scam.
Image source: Instagram/pratikgandhiofficial