If you have watched The White Tiger in Hindi then get this straight. Adarsh Gourav can speak English like any normal Indian in the country. What he had to do was unlearn that in his process to become an actor for the first time, in a lead role.
During an exclusive conversation with International Business Times India, the actor shared his experience of getting the role and later sharing space on the international nomination list, where his name had been tagged alongside the likes of Anthony Hopkins and late actor Chadwick Boseman.
Tell us about the audition procedure you had to go through to get this role.
How it came my way was there's Joseph the casting director of the film. She was holding an audition, her casting assistant Arpit got in touch with me. The name of the film wasn't revealed at that time. I had read the book when I was a teenager. I knew that it (script) was based on The White Tiger. Because Balram was there in the script, I could tell that it was from there. Also when I was reading the scenes I could tell. So, that's how I was called in for an audition. I had close to four of five auditions. Then Ramin had joined for the third round of auditions and then we tried a bunch of different scenes as Balram the driver and Balram the businessman. I think after one month Ramin gave me a call and he said that they wanted me to play Balram. And it felt like the ground had shifted beneath my feet. It felt like it was almost impossible to hear what he was saying.
Your name has been nominated alongside the likes of Anthony Hopkins. Did you expect this when you were chosen for the role?
(Laughs) No, I don't think anybody can expect their name to be written alongside Sir Anthony Hopkins. Ummm, at the time I was, to be honest, I didn't even think that I would get the part because I knew it was going to be a huge film. My shock was when I got the part. When I got the part I just wanted to have fun with it, to go and explore myself, and find my own truth of Balram, and not necessarily how Arvind Adiga wrote it. Of course, I had to do it the way it was written in the book but also find how I saw the scenes. That was the most gratifying part of the project. Ramin is somebody who believes in doing research and spends a lot of time investigating and finding of everything. He gave all actors freedom on the set and he always encouraged us to just explore.
Do you think your big win can be a boost for many other talents?
Well, I don't really know about that. Nobody in their wildest dreams could imagine that I would be nominated for any of these things I have been nominated for. I try not to think about it because it becomes very distracting for me and that's all.. it's very easy to fall into that trap. But hypothetically, if I win, then I guess it will help people. I don't know, I don't know how these things work but it does right. I guess then you get encouraged to make more stories based on these South Asian countries, be it India, Bangladesh, Nepal. When you start making more films, there are more opportunities for people.
I saw you in a clip in My Name Is Khan. How long have you been acting?
Yeah that's right I played the young Shah Rukh Khan, I was the 15-year-old Shah Rukh Khan in the film. My Name Is Khan is my first film, my first assignment on camera. I have been acting roughly... well I have been auditioning for close to 13 years. My Name Is Khan was my first assignment on camera, I had done a play in school before that. It was a musical, I had to sing songs, and act. My mother, grandfather had come to see me and everybody at school was a part of the audience. Everybody in school was very supportive. Then my grandfather had said that I had a spark in me. It was like any other school play. At that point in time, he was very encouraging and wanted me to try it out. I don't think anybody in my family had ever acted. But this was also at a time when I had no clue what I would do eventually. Yes to answer your question, I have been acting for nearly 11-13 years.
Well, the answer is in your question you know, there is no one kind of India, similarly, there is no one kind of country. There is always diversity in every country that you go to. In India, the diversity is bigger because of our rich history and because of the culmination of different religions, that have co-existed for so many centuries. Even in The White Tiger, there are two sides to the coin, isn't it? There's Balram who comes from the darkness, who isn't privileged, and then there is Ashok, who is a man who is educated abroad, lives in a huge house in Dhanbad and lives in a fancy apartment in Gurgaon. So these are both truths of our country, I don't think there is any misrepresentation. I think it is also important for us to show the India which exists in the city, the new India, where the middle class can afford to go to a restaurant, can go, watch a film at the weekends, can buy a car, can go for vacations. It is important for us to show this side of India as well.