How long did that ‘Kaminey body’ take?
Nearly 8 months. I trained 5 days a week, 2 hours a day with Abbas Ali, my trainer.
Aha, six-pack abs?
The look wasn’t about having a chiselled picture-perfect body. Charlie, the character, needed to look tough and strong, not gym-toned. It’s a lean and mean but not clean look, the grunge adds to the dark portrayal of the character.
What have you learnt about yourself while playing different roles?
That I have many sides to me.
Kaminey showed a lot of me. I play two twin brothers who’re very different—one stammers, the other lisps; one has grey shades, the other is very straight. I think I’m somewhere in the middle.
Have you ever been surprised by yourself?
(Laughs) Yes yes, I have. I think Vishal (Bharadwaj) tends to surprise actors, that’s a wonderful quality he has as a director.
Your first reaction to the script...
Here’s a double role I haven’t heard about or seen before and it was greatly exciting.
Working with Vishal must have been unique.
Vishal has an interesting way of looking at characters, situations, stories—both visually and as far as the text is concerned.
Is he different from other directors?
Not very different. Vishal has his own style of filmmaking which is unique but so does Sooraj Barjatya and Imtiaz Ali.
As an actor how much freedom did you get?
He gave me a lot of freedom. It helps if an actor feels free to do what he thinks is right without the burden of expectations.
How did you see this role in comparison to others you’ve done?
This is probably the best role of my career. Vishal has the ability to surprise an actor with himself and you can turn around and say, “Ya man, I actually did that!”