"Where there's a will, there's a way" You all must have heard this English proverb probably hundreds of times while growing up. But you will come across very few people in this world who tend to abide by it. And actor Chandan K Anand is among those few who has worked really hard in his life to be where he is standing right now.
Having spent for more than 20 years in the entertainment industry, Chandan, with his dedication and passion for the craft, has proven that taking baby steps in your career can help you go beyond your comfort zone and go a long way.
He recently featured in ZEE5's original series, Rangbaaz which was set against the rustic background of Uttar Pradesh of 90s wherein he played a pivotal character of an contract killer.
And now with two more web shows and a film in pipeline, Chandan is excited for his upcoming film Bumfaad, directed by Ranjan Chandel, wherein he will be seen sharing screen with Paresh Rawal's son, Aditya, and Shalini Pandey.
In an exclusive conversation with International Business Times India, Chandan spoke at length, candidly, about his small and big achievements in life, how things have fallen in place for him over the years, his acting technique, moving on and on in Bollywood without a godfather and an insightful journey of becoming an actor and thereafter.
Tell us how was your experience working with an ensemble cast in Rangbaaz.
It's was a great experience working with such talented co-actors like Ravi Kishan, Saqib Salem and Tigmanshu Dhulia is a legend. The moment I finished Rangbaaz web series, I texted him about how I felt about sharing screen space with him and the nuances he brings in his characterization. When I was working, I was completely focused on my character and the characterization because that's how people remember me. I also asked him about how he juggles between acting and directing so that if I could imbibe his craft in me. He replied to me saying that he loves direction the most and about he said that you don't have to do too much but stay true to your character. I asked him why does he chooses theatre actors only to which he replied he wants actors who can create magic on screen. So I had an amazing time talking to him and a learning experience while working with the entire cast and crew of Rangbaaz. Ravi Bhai is a very spontaneous actor and it was my first time that I worked with him on a project. And the best thing about working with actors who are loaded with experience is that you learn a lot about their craft and it helps you to grow as an actor as well.
You seem to have been experimenting and challenging yourself as an actor by taking up varied roles.
I just want to say we are beggers and not choosers because whatever experiments are happening, I am just trying to give my best to the roles that I am getting offered. I am slowly entering into the phase where I can choose my project but right now I am just going with the flow and surrender myself to the character. If I go back in time, it should make me feel satisfied looking at my body of work where I got to pplay varied roles on the silver screen. And when the time comes to make choices, I will have to be absolutely sure about how the particular role or the project will help me achieve new heights as an actor. Because as they say, superstars, they are made from their own choices. And till date, I would say that god has been very kind to me in terms of getting work to build my profile as an actor.
What preparation goes before building up any character on screen. Do you prepare a lot before going in front of the camera or does it comes to you naturally after reading the script itself.
Yes, I will genuinely answer this question as an actor. Yes, it changes with the script because sometimes even if you keep reading the scripts over and over again, it doesn't draws a picture in your head. But when I read the script of Rangbaaz, it was in my body. And when it was released, the director called me and said I loved you the most. There's no hard and fast rule of creating a character. It should come to you naturally. And we are in a phase right now where actors will be creating their characters on screen because the script writers are also coming up with strong content which are very close to the reality. Every actor follows a different technique - method, physical or by bringing in small nuances from your past memories and putting in your character to bring it alive on screen. After reading many books, travelling from south to west with different teachers, I have now been able to create my own technique over the years to bring the character closest to the reality that will instantly connect with the audience. My basis lies in spirituality. I try to work on each and every small nuances like how is the mindset of the character, how he thinks, what he will do when he will find himself in certain situations. It has to be logical and should come naturally to you just like I am talking to you right now without pre-thinking. And when it comes in front of the camera, it creates magic. Yes, an actor has its own shares of ups and downs and when you are down, you need a doctor, and those are no one but our gurus (teachers/mentors) who guide us through our journey. They tell us what should be done and let us know where we are lacking and how we can improve our craft. An actor has to utilise all the nine senses of the body to first hand experience the reality and then put it in front of the camera and bring it alive.
Does your characterization of roles clash with your director's vision of how the character would be shaping till the end while shooting for a project.
In my entire career, I would say that I get have been/get hired and get paid for that. So it is my responsibility to satisfy the need of the makers of any project. When a director briefs me about a scene or his vision, I try to get into his shoes and then things become quite easier. Whenever I read a script, I develop my own vision for the character and when the directors brief about it, they have their own vision of how the character would shape. And that is when I try to get on the same page to understand his vision and what's best for the business. I can say that they are the painters and I am the brush that's being used to draw the final picture on the canvas. So I have never been on the pilot's seat. And I do sometimes get irritated when there is a difference of opinion between a director and a channel. Because it gets difficult to take instructions from two brains and do your thing. And it happens a lot these days which is a sad part because it puts in a dilemma of whom you are working for and whom you should listen to.
And I am very proud to be a part of Rangbaaz because the entire team was so sorted that we never felt we were losing focus while shooting it right from the start till the end. And it is important for me as an individual and an actor because when you look back you shouldn't regret of what you had done. As you move on in life and get noticed, people would want to look at your previous works as well and that time it should add value to it and not let them down. They shouldn't feel that okay now he is performing better and taking up varied roles. It should rather be like people should say that no he has been doing good work since the beginning. That's how I want to see my career graph. And I don't give full credits to myself for successfully creating an impactful character because its a team work and I respect each and every one and thank them for being by my side throughout the journey.
So are you satisfied with whatever you have done or achieved in your career till date.
Oh my god, It has been really wonderful. The only thing I feel is that why am I not working for 365 days in a year. Otherwise whatever work I get be it for 30 or 15 or 3 or 4 days, I love each and every performance I have been a part of it. I don't have any regrets. I have worked on Doordarshan also. If people hire me and even if the script is bad, I remember one line which Shah Rukh Khan had said, "They are paying me and it is my job to deliver what they need." So that is what I believe in and do what's best for the project even if the script is not upto the mark. Its my duty to add value and beauty to it. I can proudly tell people to go and watch my first show Meher on Doordarshan and people love it. And it is not just me but the entire show unit is responsible for the outcome. I try to improvise the lines I get to deliver and I try to add my flavour which makes it different and looks good on screen. I would like to take the responsiblity that whenever I am in the frame, you should like it when you see it.
There's no denying that an actor's job is almost like a freelancer who keeps looking for work. Does it gets difficult to find work in Bollywood.
No no actually that is the beauty of it. This is not a 9 to 5 job. You work for one day, you get paid that you can use it for the next 60 days. And when I am free for those 59 days, I create something that will make me stand out. But when people complain that if they are shooting for 12 hours and then ask for a leave in between, then there is some problem with them. Because I came prepared when I desired to become an actor. Because I have realised that an actor of my category has to keep going in front crawl to keep floating and not sink in to the industry chaos. My mom is not there now and I keep telling friends that there will come a time when you will get so occupied that you won't get a chance to spend time with your family. The reason I'm saying this is because why would you want to waste your valuable time by doing nothing. So keep creating work for myself and don't let things go out of my hand. I have directed short films, I got paid for that, I have done theatre. I want to utilize every single minute of my life to do things that will add value to my journey. And it doesn't matter if you don't get enough money during the process. Money will come to you today or tomorrow but my enjoyment is to keep entertaining my audience even if the number is low. If they like your work, it gives you immense happiness and that happiness reflects in audience's eyes as well. I believe in living this very moment, by the moment, and keep working towards your goals. That is my take on life altogether.
Most actors often find themselves in a dilemma whether to take up good roles that would be mentally satisfying or doing mediocre roles for hefty remuneration.
Yes, this is something which makes you think about it. And this realisation started happening to me for last one and a half year. I used to run behind creativity but when I remember this statement which many actots reiterated that "If you are not rich, you are not an actor." So this is really a troublesome statement but I realised that if you are rich and have money you can become more creative person and put that money to good use. My approach has never been to earn hefty money in the industry but you can't escape the truth. There are certain things that you need to fulfill them like you also need to feed yourself and your family otherwise how will you keep moving ahead in life. If tomorrow I need to create my own content, I need money to do that. So I have started that thought process of looking at it as a business being an actor. I never thought that I am a product but people look at you that way. So I realised that thing and I have started marketing myself as a product, put myself in front of everyone and the media so that they would know that I am there and they might want me for certain projects where I might fit in. And there is nothing wrong in that. One should possess that business sensibility which as an actor we often tend to forget because art is not business, doing business is art. So I am ready to learn. I am ready to be out there and let people see me for who I am.
Have you ever had a godfather in the industry.
Till date, there isn't because if it was there, I would been somewhere else. I believe that time favours everyone. If you keep working hard that will eventually become huge and your time will come. But there have been mentors who have guided me in my acting career like there is one named MK Sharma from Delhi who made me well-versed with the craft. His proteges have been Manoj Bajpayee, Swanand Kirkire, Piyush Mishra, Huma Qureshi and others. But yes there has never been a jodi (pair) like Rajkummar Rao-Hansal Mehta, Nawazuddin Siddiqui-Anurag Kashyap and Govinda-David Dhawan. If it happens then there's nothing like it. There is no comparison of my journey or your journey, you will never know what will come your way and then brighten your day. No one knows about anyone's journey.
Did you struggle to establish yourself as an actor in Bollywood.
When I entered into this acting world, the only thing in my mind was that I should fit in every class no matter what may come. Initially, I did theatre for 8-10 years and when I gained enough confidence and when people started praising me as an actor, then I decided to move to Mumbai in 2004. I got my first offer from UTV and they were giving me Rs 5,000 per day and I was supposed to shoot for 5 days. And let me frankly tell you that I have never been in pursuit of money. So after discussing it with my guruji, I decided not to take it up because I didn't like the role that was offered to me. Then the next offer I got was from Doordarshan and from then there was no stopping me. I have done almost 8-10 TV shows, got featured in 200-250 commercials and have worked in 8-10 movies. And after 20 long years, industry people have started recognising me and my recognition came with Ajay Devgn's critically acclaimed Parched. It has been a nice journey so far and I never felt at any point of time that I was struggling with it. I came to Mumbai with Rs 2,000 in my pocket of which Rs 225 were spent on train tickets. But the only thing that you need to remember is never give up on anything and never lose hope. That's what keep you moving ahead in life and turn things around. I would say that the word struggle has never existed in my life.
There comes a time when you start losing hope and that feeling comes from your peers and the people who you are associated with it. And fortunately I have managed to save myself from sinking in to that feeling. If there is any struggle in life, it is to save yourself from losing your own identity and protect yourself from the negativity around you.
And before we sign off, tell us what kind of roles you wish to portray on screen and whom you want to work with.
I want to take up roles, those characters which the film industry has never touched it. I am looking for challenging roles, love stories of a common man which will connect you instantly. Once Imtiaz Ali had told me that I will direct you in my movie one day, so I am waiting for that moment to arrrive. I want to work with David Dhawan also. He has made such wonderful movies with Govinda in the lead and I have always been a fan of his craft. I want to work with Vishal Bhardwaj as well, then Anurag Basu, Nishikant Kamat, Aditya Chopra. I want to do a feature with them and I would love to explore new genres and roles that will make the most of my acting skills. And if it happens, it would surely be hell of a learning experience. I have many dreams, I just want them to be fulfilled.