Art & Entertainment

Abhilash Thapliyal Aspires To Play Impactful Characters: If I Have Only One Line In A Film And That Changes The Narrative, I Will Do That Part

For 'Aspirants' actor Abhilash Thapliyal, screen time or the depth of a character don't matter. He feels that a character should have an impact on the story.

Abhilash Thapliyal

''How are you?'' I asked Abhilash Thapliyal. ''I am very happy,'' he replied immediately. He was indeed on cloud nine for getting overwhelming responses for his performance in 'Aspirants'. Working as a radio jockey and a television host and then making his Bollywood debut in 2018 with the romantic comedy 'Dil Juunglee', Abhilash has indeed come a long way. Little did people know about him and in 2021, with TVF's 'Aspirants' he became a household name. Abhilash's role as Shwetketu aka SK in the web series got him lots of appreciation. He was brilliant. Recently, season 2 of 'Aspirants' released and Abhilash has yet again won our hearts with his stellar performance. 

In a freewheeling conversation, Thapliyal spoke at length about his learning from his character SK, his struggles in the early stage, his aspiration to play good characters and more. 

You sound so happy

If someone gets the kind of reactions that I'm getting right now, I mean, that's the least I can be. I'm very happy. I'm just grinning, smiling ear to ear.

'Aspirants 2' has finally released. How does it feel?

Actually, there were a lot of expectations after Aspirants Season 1 because when such a big show is made, it always happens that you want to aim for it. Earlier we were not aiming. First time we had just created Aspirants without knowing what we were creating, or what kind of a story we were telling. We didn't know it was going to be so big. But once you give a hit like that, then there is a pressure of what you will do in the second season. I had a lot of apprehension as I thought about what would happen this time, whether people would like my character or not. But now the kind of reaction I am getting is that people are calling my character SK 'the most lovable' of 'Aspirants. I feel that's great.

I think that's the biggest compliment an actor can get. If your portrayal creates that kind of conviction amongst your audience, and especially people who know you, who feel that you have successfully done your part, you have played your part and it's always an amazing feeling as an actor.

What did you learn from your character? 

I've just realized that we all have SKs in our lives. I'm sure you must have a friend who always makes plans and you always reject him. But we all have rejected SK so much in our lives, that whenever we see this SK on screen, we think, oh, he's our friend. And that's why you fall in love with this character. So, my learning is to just keep these SKs very close to our hearts. You'll see that he's trying to solve every problem as much as he can without thinking too much about it. 

In our real life, we have our own share of struggles. Did you also have to struggle a lot in the early phase?

It happened when I was working at a radio station when I was still in college. I was doing my journalism at Delhi University and parallelly I started working as a radio jockey. The radio station was shut down in a year's time. After that, I had nothing for 1.5-2 years. When I got married, I had no work. I left my job as soon as I got married and I didn't have a job for 6-7 months because I had to shift to Mumbai. My wife was in Mumbai. So I had to leave everything and come to Mumbai from Delhi. She has been very supportive.

What matters to you-screen time or the depth of a character?

The importance of a character. Depth does not matter. If I have only one line in the film but that one line changes the narrative of the film, I will do that part. It is that simple. Screen time does not matter. You may be watching the whole film but there is no impact your character has on the story. Screen time does not matter. Depth also does not matter. It is just the impact of the character in the story. So, I think that is very important that your story has importance. 

You had said in an interview you have got the tag of a hero's friend. Are you happy with this tag?

That tag has been removed now. The kind of work I have done with Faadu, Blurr and Aspirants. Initially, I had that tag but I did not have any problem with it. I never had an aspiration to become a hero. Not even now. So, I have no aspirations of becoming the main lead in any film or web show. I am happy doing the parts I am doing. I want to play good characters. I never wanted to become a hero. You can call me a hero's friend, or you can call me a villain or you can call me a hero. It does not matter to me. Because the tags will keep changing. What matters is what I do on screen.

In Faadu, the screen presence is not that much but the impact that character has on you is crazy. 

How was it working out with all the actors of 'Aspirants'?

Earlier, we had one vanity van and we all used to stay in one van. This time, our budgets increased. So, we all had our own vanity vans. We were living a classier life, staying in a 5-star hotel. We all had our own car for pick-drop. This time, it was better. The most interesting thing was that I had a bigger tummy. The last time, the stomach of SK was a fake prosthetic. Last time, we had less money. So, it was a 2-2.5 kg stomach. But it was not visible on the screen. So, we used to put mufflers and clothes inside it. This time, I think they had good budgets. So, I used to carry a 3 kg stomach. I have flaunted my belly in a cool way.