It was after 18 years of real struggle, Viineet Kumar finally gained prominence under the guidance of Anurag Kashyap, first in Gangs of Wasseypur and later in Mukkebaaz. On the professional field, Viineet's work has been better than what it used to be back in 2000 when he first moved to Bombay with the aspirations to be an actor. Years passed, he worked as an extra on various films, but years later, his fate changed. He has presently gained prominence for his on-screen presence in Shah Rukh Khan's Bard Of Blood and Betaal. During an exclusive conversation with International Business Times, the actor shared how the uncertainty in the profession took a toll on him, mentally and emotionally.
'Shah Rukh Khan is a self-made superstar'
I have worked with Shah Rukh Khan in Bard of Bloods, and now in Betaal. It was an enriching experience. When I was shooting for Betaal, he came on sets, back then Bard of Bloods had not released yet and he came and complimented me for my performance in the web-series. After that we went to the editing room, we started talking about his life journey. He is a self-made man, who is educated in the real means, you can talk to him on any issue. He helps actors like us who has just started our journey. He is such a huge superstar yet he is so grounded. His humility made me feel as if he is an elder brother. When we were in the edit room, a young girl (who is a part of the show) her mother arrived. He instantly got up and gave her a chair and he stood behind. She became very uncomfortable that Shah Rukh Khan was standing at the back of the room, and he had a knee injury. Before that I had only heard about men respecting women, but this incident set an example.
'As an actor, I will continue to experiment'
See, me as an actor I will experiment. Usually, when we play an Army character, we often see them as larger than life character, but we don't see them as a vulnerable character, a confused person. Being a doctor, I am aware that when someone suffers from PTSD, they suffer from a different kind of trauma. When I started my preparation as an actor, these are points I discussed with my director. Something happened with Vikram Sirohi which made him extremely vulnerable. He is strong, but not someone who will come and conquer (at least not physically), I observed that he is a man who suffered so much that he is unable to communicate with a girl, he doesn't have the strength to share it, because he has a good soul, he suffers from a pang of guilt. My character is not the kind of person which Jitendra Joshi plays, who is selfish and evil. Externally, he looked strong, but internally he is always in doubt. Even on the field his friends tell him not to do something. He is not in the right state of mind to lead someone. This colour of character was very fresh, and I wanted to play it. Many people noticed it and I'm happy about it.
'I love experimenting'
I love experimenting, I have done that previously, if you have watched Mukkebaaz there I play a character who is hot-headed. Extremely hot-headed. He punches anyone when he is angry. He fails to think about his career. After that I was in Saand Ki Aankh, there my character is someone who does not make eye contact to retaliate, he is a character like that. Now if you see Sirohi, he is always sad because he is haunted by the ghost of his past. I wish to continue experimenting further with such characters.
Last time I spoke to you, you said you want to play characters like Pablo Escobar, Walter White. Are these extremely high expectations?
See, when I was in Benaras, when I told everyone I want to be in acting, people thought that I had high expectations. I'm from a middle-class family, my father is a math teacher, then everyone thought and were convinced that I have chosen the wrong field. But you never know the universe had different plans for me. It took me 18 years to get a lead role in a film, but it happened.
What were you doing before that?
I played dead bodies, duplicates, I would be an extra on the sets. I continued doing it. I never thought that I am the best. I learnt new tricks, maybe even if I talk to you I will learn something. I got fame after Gangs of Wasseypur and Mukkebaaz. Gangs of Wasseypur paved way for me, people accepted me, Mukkebaaz gave me recognition, it gave me more options.
View this post on Instagram
Clock is ticking. #Betaal is coming closer. Premieres on 24th May, only on Netflix. @netflix_in @redchilliesent @iamsrk @gaurikhan @blumhouse @skglobalent @_gauravverma @jplgraham @nikmahajan @aahanakumra @jitendrajoshi27 @suchipillai @sidmenon1 @jatin_goswami1 @manjiripupala @synaanandofficial @vikramdahiya707 @tanaysatam @prasadchaurasiya @paragnm @shruti_kapoor_21
So you credit Anurag Kashyap the most right?
Yes. People asked me that why do you work only with Anurag Kashyap, well other people they don't give me jobs na. But look at me now. I believe as an actor, I am two years old. Now I have worked with red chillies, I have worked with Drishyam. Now I have got more opportunities. Somewhere I feel like a human being, I work wholeheartedly. I don't see how the work will be, I just have fun.
So for people who are not well-connected, it is not an easy journey, right?
Some people get opportunity fast, some people wait in line for years. I can never say why this happens, how this happens. I have seen many people who aspired to be actors but they packed their bags and left. I got very emotional. When I would pack their bags, it felt as if I am packing their dreams. Some people get opportunities easily. These things are inexplicable. But for me, I can say, that I am still desperate....eager to experiment, do something new, to do good work, I read everyone's script and I have that hunger to do better. It allows me to do better. I want to do something new.
'Experience has been my biggest teacher'
Within 18 years I have seen a lot of things, learnt a lot, this experience as an actor works on me. Experience has been my biggest teacher. I came to Mumbai in 2000. In 2002, I started getting work in films. I just kept taking works, some worked, others didn't. There were days when I didn't get work for months, I survived with uncertainty. I learnt how to live with uncertainty.
'So many web series have increased opportunities for actors, writers.'
Yes. Completely. Nowadays actors are getting more jobs, jobs are being generated, and actors are getting a platform. Writers are getting jobs. Back then there was nothing called casting directors. Directors would take the job. Now, you can make a list of casting directors and visit them all, and you can be assured that you can get some work. You will get well-wishers. Things have become more organised now. These casting directors inform you about vacancies, and they inform you, so yeah, this has been a relief. Nowadays, scripts are being layered, they have the opportunity to cast more characters. See, for example, previously, there were only films, which lasted for two hours. But now you have web series which are of eight episodes or more. So what happens because of this there's a need to include more characters which are played by cast. So that is how various opportunities have increased, there's more experiment too.