Pratik Gandhi, The New Face Of Harshad Mehta Reveals, ‘Took Leave From My Engineering Job To Do My First Films’ - EXCLUSIVE

Gujarati actor Pratik Gandhi who is enjoying the spotlight after a tremendous performance in Scam 1992 bares his heart on his trials and triumphs in a candid chat with Subhash K Jha. Read on.

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Pratik Gandhi, The New Face Of Harshad Mehta Reveals, ‘Took Leave From My Engineering Job To Do My First Films’ - EXCLUSIVE
Gujarati actor Pratik Gandhi has suddenly shot to global fame as Harshad Mehta in Applause Entertainment's Scam 1992. For this Pratik can't thank his director Hansal Mehta and his producers Applause Entertainment enough. "First and the biggest reason for accepting the role of Harshad Mehta was director Hansal Mehta. My producers Applause Entertainment and Sameer Nair were godsent. I love playing real-life characters. I’ve played quite a number of them on stage including Mohandas Karmchand Gandhi. It’s always a challenge to portray a real-life character specially one as much in the public domain as Harshad Mehta."

There were lots of layers to Harshad Mehta's character which Pratik got attracted to. "I like playing characters with complex human traits. Also, this is the biggest project that I’ve done in my life. All these reasons were more than enough incentive to do the project."

Pratik began doing theatre when he was a child. "I went to a school where theatre was a compulsory subject. I was lucky. I began performing on stage at a young age. I virtually grew up on stage. In 2004 armed with a college degree in engineering I shifted  to Mumbai, came to create  a space in theatre and also found employment as an engineer. Between 2004 and 2016 I was juggling among engineering, theatre and live shows. In 2012, I got my first Gujarati film. After that a lot of things changed for me and for Gujarat and the Gujarati film industry. I did my early films by taking leave from my engineering job, then  came a time when I had to choose between engineering and acting. I sat down my family and discussed it with them. In August 2016 I left my engineering  job and became a full-time actor."

Pratik  says he did a  lot  of research  on  Harshad  Mehta.  "I was  provided  with  a  lot of  material. I also  did my own research.  There were some videos of Harshad which I studied. There is  also an informative  interview of Harshad with  legendary journalist  Pritish Nandy. The script in itself  provided  a detailed document  on the character. All this , plus multiple discussions with the  writers and  directors  helped me  a lot."

Pratik admits he  had  no detailed  knowledge of the Harshad Mehta scam . "I was in  school when the scam happened .I  was aware  of certain irregularities happening in the stock market because  my  cousin had lost a  lot of money in the scam. But  that apart  as far as all the  technicalities of the stock market were concerned  I had   to learn all about them. I read up about the  stock exchange and   spoke to people from the stock market who were  active in  the 1990s. I didn’t want to  sound like someone  who was rattling off inside  information without  knowing what he was talking  about."

Pratik  undertook a  whole  regime  of physical  preparation to play Harshad. "When I first  met director Hansa lMehta  he told me I’m too lean and thin to play Harshad Mehta. I had to gain 18 kilos before we  started  shooting.I gorged on all the Gujarati goodies that  I earlier avoided. By the  time  we started shooting I had a huge belly and  a lot  of fat on  my face. And of course the trademark Harshad Mehta moustache"

  He  took a conscious  decision to not  look like Harshad  "Looking like  the  real-life character certainly makes  the actor’s job easier specially when  it is someone as well-known as  Harshad Mehta.He loved being in the limelight.One of his photographs with  his Lexus is still  popular.While making the series on Harshad we  took a conscious  decision that  I won’t try to look  like the real  Harshad. Rather I’d focus  on his behavior  attitude and personality, be it his helplessness initially, confidence, then over-confidence to the  extent of letting his arrogance and ego get the better  of his judgement.  Hansal  was clear about not caricaturing Harshad ,but rather  imbibing his characteristics into my personality."

Being a Gujarati helped Pratik understand Harshad better. "It helped me to understand his thought process, his dreams, knack for understanding money matters, the entrepreneurial spirit. And that determination to be self-employed. That’s a Gujarati trait. Though I must confess that I come from a family of educationists. No one in my family is an entrepreneur."

Image source: Instagram/pratikgandhiofficial