Pratik Gandhi stormed into our drawing rooms with ‘Scam 1992′. Life has changed for this young man. He was content doing Gujarati plays and films. But now? It’s a sack of offers lying at his doorstep and it might not be a hyperbole to say that he needs a centrifuge machine to separate the precipitate. “Well, honestly speaking, I know what to say ‘No’ to,” he says. But more about that later. As our guest this week on #HowIMadeIt settles down to trace the crests and troughs in his life, we first take him to the time he started acting in school competitions, and Pratik says, “That had become my second nature, but I wanted to become a doctor. I scored 88 per cent in my 10th but couldn’t score beyond 67 per cent in 12th. I precisely don’t know why that happened. I was pretty focused.”
Pratik wondered: Am I too lean? Am I not getting good roles because I don’t have biceps?
After completing his Diploma in Engineering, Pratik came to the city of dreams and started auditioning for Bollywood movies and TV shows. But the offers he says he got, turned him off. “I was getting roles which required me to shoot for a day or two. Now, that’s not what I was looking for. Plus, I really didn’t know who all to approach.” And yes, he was rejected a few times too. “I was told that I am not lead material. I was told ‘
Aap look and feel mein nahi hain‘. I wondered what they meant by that. I tried to decode it- Is it because I am too lean? Is it because I don’t have biceps to flaunt?” Soon, Pratik decided to venture into Gujarati entertainment sector. And why not? Good work had started to knock his door, which, think of it, eventually brought Hansal Mehta into his life! Pratik couldn’t believe his luck when he was called to meet Mehta at his residence whose work like ‘Shahid’, ‘Aligarh’ and ‘Citylights’ he had cherished. Mind you, the desire to enter Bollywood and TV continued to haunt him ever since his auditions didn’t hit the bull’s eye as centrally as he wanted. And again, mind you, this guy was going sweat, toil and labour in trying to accomplish the grade of a skilful artiste.
Pratik’s disbelief increased when Mehta asked him if he would be interested in playing a certain Mehta who was a stock market manipulator in the early 90s- Harshad Mehta. “My joy knew no bounds. I immediately said ‘Yes’,” he smiles, and adds, “But yes, I did ask Hansal sir what made him select me. He said he had seen some of my work.”
Pratik was told to not ape Harshad Mehta
Pratik went home elated to the hilt. After all, he knew that the storytelling in the industry had changed and streaming platforms were here to stay- and here was his first golden cake waiting to be baked. “After that, we began our meetings with the writers. They wanted me to be my natural self else my character would have looked a caricature.”
Pratik believes that web shows don’t require cuss words and bold scenes to the extent that they’re carrying them
Back to where we started. What is in his sack that makes Pratik feel a sort of repulsion? It’s the shows which are laden with abusive language and explicit scenes. Pratik always felt that web shows could work without such ingredients- and the super success of ‘Scam 1992’ has only validated his belief. Pratik says that one can excuse himself by saying that he/she doesn’t have dates and/or the money that is being offered is less, though talks with him he says have (so far) always got swept under the carpet by citing ‘no dates’ only. ”
Lekin samajhne wale samajh jaate hain,” he laughs, adding, “The dilemma of refusing a role is faced by every actor at certain points in his/her life. And, I don’t think I am burning bridges with the person I say ‘No’ to; I am saying ‘No’ to a script/story and not to a person. Tell me, if I can’t connect to a script, how will I play a character in it? So yeah, I try my best to ensure that saamnewala offend nahi ho. You need a lot of intra-personal relation skills if you’re an actor.”
Pratik felt ‘Scam 1992’ will take time before it is lapped up
However, Pratik is not striking off such stuff completely as he might relate to it sometimes. “I shall gauge the intent. Of course I can go wrong in my judgment (feel that the scene in question is justified but later it might look like it has been put totally for titillation), but kaam to aise hi hota hai na? On one’s gut feeling?” Well, we hope he doesn’t go wrong, because he did in his first judgment of ‘Scam 1992’ too. Pratik felt that it wouldn’t be binge worthy. “Yes, I thought people would see it in parts because there are many financial and technical things in it. I thought they would take time to see and understand it. And now of course, I am overwhelmed by the terrific response.”