Pratik Gandhi is the man of the hour. He has carved a niche for himself in Gujarati theatre and cinema.
Not many of you must be knowing that he made his debut in the film industry through an English film, Yours Emotionally in 2006, wherein he played the role of a gay character. The movie had screenings at various film festival including the LGBTQ film festival, NewFest 2006.
At the moment Pratik is garnering accolades for his stellar performance in Hansal Mehta's web series Scam 1992, that is currently streaming on Sony LIV app. The show features the story of stockbroker Harshad Mehta. As proof of that love, the web series has become one of the highest-rated show on IMDb.
'Scam 1992' has 9.6 ratings on the platform, beating the likes of other favourites like 'Breaking Bad', 'Chernobyl', and even 'Game of Thrones'. Well, that's an achievement for the entire cast, and most importantly a star-like Pratik is born!
In an exclusive freewheeling conversation with IBTimes, Pratik Gandhi who plays Harshad Mehta in 'Scam 1992', shares his experience of unlearning the negative shades of the character and highlighting the human side of it, his struggles, how he juggled between a corporate job and managed to shoot for films and more.
Excerpts from the interview:
On bagging the role of Harshad Mehta in Scam 1992
Director Hansal Mehra had called me and said that he was making a show on Harshad Mehta when I got his call for the first time; I couldn't believe that I got a call from him. I went for an audition and met him. He said that he had watched my film 'Wrong Side Raju'. And he wanted me to work in Scam 1992. Harshad Mehta is a Gujarati character, and I am Gujarati too, this worked for me, and that's how I got this role.
What were your research points to get into the character?
When I first met Hansal sir, he asked me, "Do you know about this character"? I knew about the scam of 1992 as I was in school at that time. I knew what had happened. So, when I was approached to do the role of Harshad Mehta, I did a lot of research on the internet as there is a lot of reference material. The script itself was of 556 pages so that by itself was detailed researched document. I watched interviews online, one of them being the famous interview by Pritish Nandy. One particular thing that I kept in mind is that I don't have to be biased. I kept the role very neutral. I always believed that we need to keep a human angle to it. Whenever I take a project which is an autobiography or biography, I don't read a lot about the person.
I met a lot of people whom Harshad Mehta worked with, I learnt the stock market sign language, how they trade. I worked on every minute detail of the character.
The journey from an Engineer to Actor
The credit goes to my family and school in Surat. I was exposed to the world of theater in my 3 or 4th standard. Theatre was there with me even when I was pursuing my engineering degree. It's been 15 years since I am doing theatres. And from 2005 to 2016 I did full fledge corporate job too. I used to stay at Malad, and my office was at Lower Parel, after office, I used to go to the gym. And then I used to rehearse for plays. I juggled between both. I had 250 leaves pending in my corporate account. I took holidays and did films. I was losing on reasonable movie offers, and I was also getting a lot of international job offers but I didn't want to leave Mumbai. I was in double mind, and then after discussing with my family, in August 2016, I took that leap of faith and decided to pursue my passion.
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Has your perception towards Harshad Mehta changed after essaying the role?
Did he do it internally, no? He kept pursuing his passion what he was doing a lot of people were doing the same thing. He came out of nowhere. Pedigree is what matters. People never wanted him to be insider. His angst, from being a nobody to somebody. He paid the higest tax. It is a very human character, he has all the emotions which all of us have, and that's how what is my perception and approach to his character.
Your take on being an outsider and making a mark for yourself in the industry?
I am happy and content with the way my career is shaping up. Yes, it seems surreal to me. I had a belif that one day I will make it big, and for this journey, I am grateful to a lot of people. I am indebted to Sony Liv, Hansal Mehta sir, trusting someone new for such a big project, sach mein in logo ne risk ko seriously le lia tha.
The official trailer of the web series:
Who is Harshad Mehta?
For the unversed, Harshad Shantilal Mehta was an Indian stockbroker, well known for his wealth and was charged with numerous financial crimes that took place during the prime ministership of P.V. Narsimha Rao - 1992 securities scam.
Of the 27 criminal charges brought against him, he was convicted of four, before his death at age 47 in 2001. It was alleged that Mehta engaged in a massive stock manipulation scheme financed by worthless bank receipts, which his firm brokered for "ready forward" transactions between banks.