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Rediff.com  » Movies » Making Waves In India And Hollywood

Making Waves In India And Hollywood

By PATCY N
April 02, 2024 17:31 IST
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'On the set, Ranveer and I got along really well.'
'Ten days after the release, Ranveer messaged me and said, you have killed the scene!'
'For someone like him to message me just says how supportive person he is of newcomers.'

Photograph: Kind courtesy Rohan Gurbaxani/Instagram

Rohan Gurbaxani may be new to Bollywood, but he has already worked with top banners like Farhan Akhtar's Excel Entertainment, Zoya Akhtar's Tiger Baby Films and Karan Johar's Dharma Productions.

Last seen in Kho Gaye Hum Kahan, the young actor is awaiting the release of Bandish Bandit 2 and Anurag Basu's Metro In Dino.

Interestingly, Rohan is also making waves in Hollywood, having worked with actors like Alec Baldwin and John Malkovich.

So who's he again?

Rohan introduces himself to Patcy N/Rediff.com and says, "In Bollywood, everyone is on WhatsApp, so I would send messages to 50 people every day -- casting associates, producers, directors... I kept putting my face out there. I knew I had the skill and the work to show. It was just about getting the right people to see the work."

Tell us about yourself.

My family has a real estate business in Bangalore, where I grew up.

I used to attend Shiamak Davar's dance classes, and take part in inter-school competitions. I was very passionate about dance.

Hrithik Roshan was my dancing idol.

When Dhoom 2 came out, I was hooked.

There was a Jagriti theatre near my house, and the lady running it was my mom's friend. So I started participating in school plays from Standard 5.

I think when I was in Standard 8, I had this dream of wanting to act and going to New York.

When I was in Standard 12, I applied for the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. I got selected and did a four-year degree course there.

While studying, I started looking for e-mail addresses of casting directors, producers and directors and would mail them.

I got a job as an assistant director on Hollywood films like I Used to Go Here and Becky.

Eventually, I got roles in films like Chick Fight, Knuckledust, Confession and Rogue Hostage.

As an Indian, was it difficult to work in Hollywood?

You do not get every project that needs an Indian character.

Fortunately, I didn't face any stereotypical incidents where I had to act with a certain accent.

 

IMAGE: Malin Akerman, Kellen Boyle, Rohan Gurbaxani and Alec Baldwin in Chick Fight.

What was it like working with Alec Baldwin in Chick Fight and with John Malkovich in Confession?

Working with Alec Baldwin was a great experience because he went to NYU himself and studied under the same professor who taught me.

Professor Jeffrey Vaughn, who is in his 90s now, had taught Alec Baldwin and Adam Sandler, so that was a great topic for conversation.

Alec Baldwin does great impressions -- he did one of Al Pacino -- and it was a great learning experience.

The same goes for John Malkovich. When you act with such experienced actors, you understand how seamless the process is.

Since you were working in Hollywood, what made you come back to India?

When the pandemic hit, I was locked down in New York for eight months. The OTT boom was just happening then.

I watched Made in Heaven and Mirzapur and realised that this is a different ballgame.

We were seeing actors who may have been in the industry for years but were really getting their chance now.

Made in Heaven really struck me. Zoya Akhtar had a strong voice behind it.

I wanted to come back to meet my parents, so my plan was to come back and do what I did in America, here.

In Bollywood, everyone is on WhatsApp, so I would send messages to 50 people every day -- casting associates, producers, directors...

I kept putting my face out there.

I knew I had the skill and the work to show. It was just about getting the right people to see the work.

IMAGE: Zayn Marie Khan and Rohan Gurbaxani in Made In Heaven Season 2.

How did you land a role in the second season of Made In Heaven?

After coming to India, I did three ads in Bangalore. One of the directors recommended me to Nandini Shrikent, the casting director of Made In Heaven and I got an e-mail from her.

I was able to audition for the first few rounds from the comfort of my home because all the offices were shut.

It was a surreal experience because I had just watched the show a few months before and knew about it.

One day I was sitting in my room giving auditions and the next, I was on the sets with people I have grown up watching!

My first meeting with Zoya was directly on the sets in Delhi.

I remember I was having lunch at the ITC hotel, and she entered and smiled at me.

I was thinking, she smiled at me before I could introduce myself, so she knows me. My life is complete now!

The episode that you were in dealt with racism. As an Indian abroad, have you ever face it?

I don't think so. I have been fortunate.

You just have to surround yourself with people who are more accepting and that's what I did. 

IMAGE: Ananya Panday and Rohan Gurbaxani in Kho Gaye Hum Kahan.

Kho Gaye Hum Kahan was made by the same team.

Karan Malay and Nandini Shrikent cast me.

They gave me the opportunity to open the season of Made In Heaven, andam sure they took a liking for me.

I believe that when casting directors like your work, they will always remember you and that goes a long way.

I gave the audition and waited for six months. Then I heard someone else was cast.

Later, I got another call asking me to audition again, and I did.

This time, I had to audition in front of Director Arjun Varain Singh.

The character's name was Rohan and I joked, 'Only a Rohan can play a Rohan.'

That last audition got me the role.

What was it like working with Ananya Panday, Siddhant Chaturvedi and Adarsh Gourav?

They are all young and successful actors. To be around them was a great learning experience.

I got so much to take from them in terms of nuances and the craft.

I was blown away by Adarsh's performance when I watched White Tiger, so I was very excited to work with him. Also, with Siddhant and Ananya.

You also starred in Karan Johar's Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahani.

I just sent WhatsApps and that works. In India, you have only five to six casting directors, who pretty much cast for everything.

I got this role through Shanoo Sharma. I was very excited because we all know who she has launched in the past.

Again, it was a very traditional process of auditioning. They gave me a scene, and I did multiple rounds of auditions.

Then she told me that I would be working with Karan sir, Ranveer Singh and Jaya Bachchanji.

I added a lot of comedy into the scene. I spoke to Karan before shooting it.

On the set, Ranveer and I got along really well.

Ten days after the release, Ranveer messaged me and said, you have killed the scene!

For someone like him to message me just says how supportive person he is of newcomers. I will remember that for the rest of my life.

 

IMAGE: Rohan Gurbaxani, then 19, worked as an intern on an ad shoot with Shah Rukh Khan.

Do you remember your first paycheck? 

When I was 19, I did an internship for Excel Entertainment.

It was during my summer break from college. I was paid Rs 10,000 for a few months of work.

But it was an internship I'll never forget because I did some pre-production on Fukrey 2.

I also worked as an Assistant Director for Rock On 2 and an ad for which Shah Rukh Khan showed up.

What next?

We have finished shooting for Bandish Bandit, and it will be out soon.

I am currently shooting for Metro In Dino with Anurag Basu.

It's so fascinating how life works because Anand Tiwari (who directs Bandish Bandit) had assisted Dada on Barfi and other films.

I found Anand sir's working style so different from Excel and Tiger Baby.

I thought it was so fitting that I had worked with Anand sir before because that's how I was able to take on the challenge of not having a script while working with Dada.

It's a very daunting experience because you get the script on the day of the shoot.

So how do you work with that?

How do you internalise it?

But you can't help but just trust him.

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PATCY N / Rediff.com
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