Actor-Writer Gautam Mehra was seen in Luv Ranjan’s social drama Akaash Vani in 2013 opposite Kartik Aaryan, Nushrratt Baruccha and Fatima Sana Shaikh. After that, he was absent from the screen for a while but he did write a few films including this year’s horror-comedy Roohi, featuring Rajkummar Rao, Janhvi Kapoor and Varun Sharma. After eight years, he recently made a return to acting with Dinesh Vijan’s web show Chutzpah, featuring Varun, Manjot Singh and Elnaaz Norouzi in the lead.
Ask him how it was returning to acting after this long and he says, “I had not left acting per se as I was doing theatres these eight years. But I didn’t get a meaty role to do on screen, so I was doing theatre and auditioning as well on the side. Although, to return in front of the camera with a character was very exciting.”
Gautam worked as a writer for Roohi with the same production house where he worked as an actor for Chutzpah. What was the difference in both experiences? “As a writer, you work more closely with the producer but as an actor, I started as an outsider to the project. It was a new experience as my interaction here was more with the director and my co-actors. The creative space was very different as being a writer, you have a very isolated space to write in. It is an internal struggle that builds up an output that you then share with the makers. But as an actor it’s more of an extrovert kind of a job. You have to be out there all the time presenting yourself,” he responds.
So, which personality is he closer to in real life, the writer or the actor”? I think I swing both ways. As a writer I work so much in isolation that after that process, I need an outlet to let my creative lava out. That I get through acting,” he reveals.
In Chutzpah, Gautam plays a social media vlogger named Kevin, who is a very hyper and high on energy person. Ask him about the process of turning into Kevin and he says, “It was a very fun process as the biggest difference between Kevin and me was that he is a social media star while I am someone who is not that active on social media. I am very lazy in that regard. But the energy that Kevin had, even on paper, I could relate to that. I understood his passion and emotions and that is what attracted me to the character and also helped me imbibe it.”
He has even been getting amazing responses for her portrayal. “The response has been amazing as my previous roles were very small that went unnoticed, but people are loving Kevin. I don’t even understand where people are getting my number as I am getting so many messages, but it’s all so heartening,” he gushes.
Being a writer himself, did Gautam feel any pressure of bringing some other writer’s story to life? “I didn’t feel that need to take any pressure as once you clear the audition, you get that validation that the direction you are taking your character in, is the correct one. After that, my director and showrunner did multiple workshops with me to increase that confidence. I first met my writer Amit on the set. I had given my shot and I didn’t know that he was already there and when I went to the monitor, he was there so excited to see me. The first thing he said to me was, “You’re killing it”. It was so motivating to hear that from him,” he shares.
Gautam worked with Luv Ranjan in Akaash Vani and now with Dinesh Vijan in Roohi and Chutzpah, and he shares the difference in the working style of the two. “Luv sir is an amazingly creative guy and I learnt a lot from him. With Dinesh, Chutzpah was my second project after Roohi, but first as an actor. But there is one thing about him common to all creative people in his team, that he gives a lot of creative freedom to all. He is the one producer that I have met who understands creativity. Most producers are more business minded, so a lot of times their creative mind is clouded by their business side. That is not the case with Dinesh Vijan at all,” he states.
Chutzpah also marks a mini reunion for the Fukrey team of director Mrighdeep Singh Lamba with Varun and Manjot. Ask Gautam if he saw that Fukrey camaraderie between the three on set and he responds, “Manjot and Mrigh and even Varun and Mrigh, if you see them working on the set together, you enjoy it a lot as a third person. Mrigh knows everything that is going on and he is a very funny guy. The way he bullies them like a big brother is fun to watch.”
So, after Chutzpah, would he like to focus more on acting now or still do both writing and acting together? “I would like to get more acting assignments, but writing cannot stop. In today’s time, it’s about how much you can express your creativity, no matter by how many means. And I believe that writing gives you an edge in acting and acting teaches you nuances of writing. It’s a beautiful internal camaraderie between the two,” he asserts.
Roohi is a part of Dinesh Vijan’s horror universe that consists of Stree and Bhediya as well. So, is he writing any other story in that? “I am working on a film that is a wacky comedy of a very different kind. That’s all I can say for now,” he concludes.
Image source: Focus PR
Image source: Focus PR