Bhuvan Arora has been in the film industry for over a decade. He has been doing characters that have been loved in numerous projects, but he hadn’t yet received the kind of success that every actor looks out for. With ‘Farzi’ he has become a household name, and every filmmaker wants to collaborate with him for their next project.
Playing a parallel lead alongside Shahid Kapoor, Bhuvan Arora left an impact that not many actors have been able to do in today’s fast-paced lifestyle. Talking to Prateek Sur, he opens up about finally getting his due after so long. He also talks about the nuances of getting the character right, working with Shahid Kapoor, Kay Kay Menon and Vijay Sethupathi, getting directed by Raj & DK, and lots more. Excerpts:
You were the surprise package in ‘Farzi’. How did the character come to you?
So, the character came to me through the Mukesh Chhabra's casting company, and they approached me for the audition. I auditioned for it, and they liked what I did. Hence I got the part. There weren't multiple rounds of audition. There was just one round where I'd sent the audition from home like a self-test, and they saw that and liked it. And then I got the part.
You were pretty much a parallel lead in the show. You’ve hardly done any lead roles, and suddenly you’re almost the lead in such a big production with such big directors, and such big stars in it. Did your approach towards the character change thinking about all these factors?
So, I've been a part of a few projects before where I was playing parallel lead. And the process doesn't really change as such because every character demands you to be in a certain way. So, my approach to any role is not in terms of the scale, it's always very character centric. Like what does the character require me to do? How much can I contribute of myself to the character? What are the factors that differ between my individual identity and the character? So, I need to work on those. So when I'm working, if I start to think this is a big show, this is a huge star cast. If I start to go in that direction, I don't think I'll be able to do justice to my job. So to just do my job, I just have to approach the character as the character and everything else will fall in place. So, my approach was to just achieve Firoz and I didn't think about anything else. Obviously, the trust is much higher when makers like Raj and DK are helming the show. But apart from that, I don't think there was any other factor that changed in terms of my approach to the character. I wanted Firoz to be the way it has translated on screen and I just worked towards it. I didn't think of anything else.
As Raj and DK are very big directors, were they stubborn in what they wanted from you? Or were they flexible enough to give you the space so that you can improvise and also give your inputs about the character that you’re going to play onscreen? Were they open to feedback?
They are the most accommodating and liberal directors I personally have encountered in my life. They absolutely give 100% freedom to all the actors to improvise. They obviously are there to direct if something is getting over or under. But they weren't stubborn at all. They were always very welcoming to the feedback or suggestions that would come. And in fact, sometimes they would tell me that, “Bhuvan, don't do it in front of us, go ahead and just do it in the final take. We also want to get surprised.”
So that's the kind of freedom they give to their actors. And I think the beauty of their filmmaking is that they're so clear in the head, they just know, what direction the actor will go in. And they give them that kind of freedom. And which is why I feel a lot of it looks natural whenever you see their shows, so many characters look so natural because there's so much ease in them as performers. Raj and DK give you that kind of space.
Was it easy to discuss scenes with Shahid Kapoor or Kay Kay Menon or Vijay Sethupathi? Were they open to your suggestions on how a certain scene should go, when probably you too were in the scene?
I did not have a lot of scenes with the Vijay sir, but I obviously had a lot of scenes with Shahid bhai and Kay Kay Sir. So yes, they were absolutely open to suggestions and, but that was hardly the case because they are anyways such Great artists. They are such good actors that they do not really need any suggestions from me. But whenever I would have a suggestions, I would probably go ahead and tell them that and if they would like it, they would keep it. So, they are very welcoming here. I don't think that any of the actors on the set were in that headspace that, “I am more established or I'm, you know, a bigger actor. So, I'm not going to take suggestions from anybody.” And I think everybody would, obviously go to Raj & DK sir and suggest something if they had to. Everybody took suggestions from each other. I took it from others, they took it from me. And that is how the filmmaking process is. We must feed off each other.
I am sure after the show’s success your phone mustn’t have stopped ringing. Who has been the biggest filmmaker or actor whose phone you’ve received congratulating you or offering you your next big project?
A lot of people have reached out. And I would say uniformly I've got an equal amount of love from the audiences and industry as well. You know, big directors, big producers have been kind enough to reach out and message me. I obviously do not want to name them and feed off their name’s popularity. But I can definitely assure you I got approached by a lot of filmmakers and producers who said very nice and kind things about me, and obviously a lot of love came from the audiences as well, so I'm just very happy about that.
Honestly, tell us one thing, how did you get that accent or rather the dialogue delivery perfectly? If anyone else did it, it would have looked very made-up, but when you do it, it’s not caricaturish. How did you do it?
Basically, a lot of effort goes in looking effortless on screen. So yes, this was like a clear direction I had gotten. And we had amicably decided this, that, this is the kind of lingo we will stick to. So it's uniformly applicable to all the actors. We're not going to get into that cliched Bombay lingo that has been represented in the previous films. I don’t mean all of them, but some of them. And you know, with Firoz, the difficult part is that with characters like that, there is a huge tendency for the actor to look caricaturish because the scenes are of that nature. But I was very careful in terms of my approach that it needs to be believable. So I would always, find that fine line between caricaturish and then by little underplaying I feel I would hit the right chord. Also it's got to do a lot with Raj and DK and Suman Sir and Seetha Mam, because they've written the character in such a way that it looks beautiful. And I just had to, enhance it by coming on board and, doing the scenes. But it is totally about good writing. Also I feel that it's not true that if anybody else would have done it, they would have done a caricature. They would have probably approached it differently. But this was my approach. This is what I understood of the character, and this is what came instinctively to me. And I think I've been in this for long enough and I've done a lot of comic parts where I understand, where it starts to get a little caricaturish and where it is still in the realm of believability. So that kind of also came with a lot of experience from the past.
You’ve been in the film industry for almost a decade now. Do you think your work is finally getting its due?
Yes, I do feel that, people have recognized me with this show. A lot of people have given me love. I'm lucky that, people have reached out to me for their films. So if you call this getting my due, then probably yes. But I feel that, with every film that I did the film might have worked or it might not have worked, but people have always given me love. It just is that the quantity of love this time is many degrees higher. But yes, I feel that if you call it getting your due or in other words, I've broken out with this role. It is true. I'm happy now. I'm in a happy space. No matter what we choose to call it, I'm just overwhelmed and I'm grateful for all the love coming. And yes, I just feel the hard work has paid off.
Has the OTT boom in the past few years helped you get more or rather better projects?
I think OTT is a beautiful platform for all the actors because, the shows are longer, the characters are more deep. You get more material, you get more substance as an actor to play those parts and get to use a lot more of your craft that I have learnt from my time in FTII. So the craft that I learnt in the process of acting, I feel I got to finally culminate in my work. I get this opportunity on OTT. Cinema is also great medium, but obviously there the length differs. And if it's a two hour film or an eight hour show, obviously the scope is, much different in those two. So, I think, OTT definitely is giving that kind of space to actors who have that kind of capability to present themselves or, juice it out at their optimal. So, OTT is a great place. I think it is definitely a beautiful and a wonderful thing and I think it's the best time to be an actor today.
In general, is OTT a boon for actors who were probably not getting enough work from the mainstream filmmakers?
Yes. I feel OTT is a medium where, actors do get opportunities to showcase their talent in diverse directions. So, I think it’s really a blessing here. And it is it is helping actors to get better projects. And that includes me as well.
Any downside to this OTT boom?
I think there are more upsides than downsides. Of course, everything has its pros and cons, but I feel that, the only downside to it is that there is too much content now. So it's getting hard for viewers to understand what to see and what not to see. But I think OTT is a medium that grows on word of mouth. So if you make a good show, it's going to get love. If you don't make a good show, it's not going to get love. But the only downside that I feel is that the quantity of content is too much.
You seem to be very choosy with your projects. What has been your biggest regret over the years? Something that you wish you had done, or something you wish you hadn’t had done?
There are no regrets and there is no point of having regrets because if you don't get a project or if you don't say yes to a project, you obviously gain an experience out of it. So ‘tajurba’ is something or experience is something that I've always looked forward to and I've always gotten that. So I don't like to go back and think, “if I would have done this, this would have happened” because I don't have a time machine, honestly, so there's no point of thinking over it. I can definitely learn from my mistakes, but I feel in general also my Instagram bio says that “life is a lesson, you learn it when you're through,” so every decision that you make seems right at that moment. You might look back, look back in hindsight and say that, this was probably a wrong decision, but you never know at that moment. So now if I look back today, I don't think so there’s any decision that I took which I right now think was the wrong decision because it is kind of made me the kind of person I am today. So everything that happens in your life is adding value to your life. So, it doesn't matter in the end. Don't keep regrets. They're not worth it.
What’s next? What can we see you next in?
So, there are a couple of projects that I'd shot before Farzi had released. They are going to come out soon. There's a film with Pushpendra Nath Mishra. There's a film that has Vicky Kaushal in it. I'm currently also doing a show, and after finishing that only I will pick another script because I I'm committed to that right now. So I'll wrap that up and whatever I'm going to pick after that has to be bigger and better. So I'll keep you guys posted very soon as to what's happening next, and you'll obviously hear it. I'll keep you guys posted. A lot of things are happening. Thankfully, a lot of people have reached out, but I need to be careful and I've always been choosy. So why stop now?