Ever since his breakout movie role as Shutu in A Death in Gunj (2017), Vikrant Massey has barely put a foot wrong. From playing Arshad in Lipstick Under My Burkha to Amol in Chhapaak, from Prahastha in Cargo to Rahul in Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi, from Bablu Pandit in Mirzapur to Veer in Broken But Beautiful, the last two years have been everything and more than what the 34-year-old actor dreamed of.
While his latest film Haseen Dillruba received mixed reactions, praise for his performance as the inhibited and suppressed husband with a dark side has been universal.
The Mumbai based actor, whose professional life began as a dancer before diversifying into television soaps, made his movie debut in Lootera (2013) but it wasn’t till four years later that audiences, critics and filmmakers sat up and noticed Massey.
Excerpts from an interview:
Would it be fair to say that the time from 2017 to now have been your wonder years?
It’s been every bit of what I always wanted, and I recognise this blessing. I am indebted to whatever is up there, the audience and well-wishers who have pushed me to better myself. It sometimes feels surreal, sometimes it scares me and at other times I feel I couldn’t have asked for more. A Death in the Gunj was the turning point, the definitive moment after which the way people perceived me changed.
You have been seen in an eclectic mix of films and web series. What kind of characters are you drawn to?
I get drawn to characters I can relate to, and am far more comfortable playing personalities that I am aware of or characters with some similarities to me. That gives me better understanding and helps me structure a back story to the character and bring elements which may not be available in the script otherwise.
From a murder accused in 'Criminal Justice' to a small town boy who makes a big gesture in 'Haseen Dillruba' to playing Karan lover’s Nawab in 'Made in Heaven' and Sunny who woos Ginny into marriage in 'Ginny Weds Sunny' - do each of these characters have a part of you in them?
There is this basic understanding that humans possess tremendous capacities and possibilities within. We are capable of surprising ourselves with our reactions and choices when thrown into unpredictable situations. Survival is our primary instinct. I possess bits of every character within me. I am a different person to different people I have encountered in my life, and we all imbibe things we see around us. As an actor, it’s a matter of channelizing that and it’s an ongoing process. I am fairly new to this world and so still learning on the fly. So I don't know what it is that makes me do what I do. But I do know that it is aided by the directors and technicalities of filmmaking.
What drew you to playing Rishu in 'Haseen Dillruba'?
Firstly, I could identify with the world. A lot of the Rishu you see in the first half is me. Also as an actor I have never been approached with something that offered me this kind of range to showcase. It was actor's candy. Plus, I had the opportunity to collaborate with people like Vinil (Mathew, director), Taapsee (Pannu, co-star) and Harshvardhan (Rane, co-actor) who are all so passionate about telling a good story.
You have aced playing small-town characters. But when you play these parts repeatedly, how do you make each small-town boy different?
Although I am from Mumbai, there is a universal tonality to most middle class lives around the country. The wants and aspirations are similar. You might find differences geographically but the basic tenets for life and survival are universal. I started working at 17 and before that I was with Shiamak Davar’s troupe, so I have been out and about since my teenage years. Those travel experiences and living and working in smaller towns helped, besides when we shoot in a place we live there for a few weeks or months during which you imbibe things from your environment. I also read to understand what life was like before and to understand the people of the area. As an actor it is a basic skill set to understand history, people, human nature, life. And of course there is the information you get from the screenwriters, director, etc., which all contribute to making each character unique.
What else have you got coming up?
I have Devanshu Singh’s 14 Phere
with Kriti Kharbanda and Santosh Sivan’s Mumbaikar
in which I am sharing screen space with Makkal Selvan Vijay Sethupathi (sorry, I cannot just take his name) and I will start shooting for Forensic
, which is an adaptation of a Malayalam film by the same, directed by Vishal Furia.