Chances are you know him as 'That friend from Lootera or Dil Dhadakne Do'. Last month, he was Arjun Kapoor's best friend in Half Girlfriend. But this week Vikrant Massey will front Konkona Sen Sharma's directorial debut A Death In The Gunj. In an ensemble cast that boasts of talented actors like Ranvir Shorey, Kalki Koechlin and Gulshan Devaiah, Massey plays the central role of Shutu, a reticent youngster struggling to come to terms with his father's death.
It's taken 14 years for the 30 year old actor from Mumbai to get here. But he's worked consistently through this time. You may recognise him from popular television shows like Balika Vadhu, the odd web show on YouTube, dozens of commercials featuring stars like Alia Bhatt and Shahid Kapoor, and small parts in big Hindi films. Here he tells us about what it's like to find work and stay afloat in showbiz.
EVERY SHOT COUNTS
The truth is, when you are an outsider in this industry every shot you prepare for, every scene you have, becomes your show reel. You have to go out there and prove ki haan mein yeh bhi kar sakta hoon. If you don't maximize that window you will be shown the door. It's very seldom that you find someone who will give you a second opportunity. I love it when people tell me that I've made it cool to be the quintessential best friend of the hero in Bollywood films.
I DIDN'T READ THE SCRIPT OF LOOTERA
I don't have a story of struggle. Main yeh nahi keh sakta ki main bhooka soya ya jhoote ghisse. Lootera was the first film I auditioned for and I got the part. Honestly, I was doing well in television, making a lot of money and travelling the world. But somewhere there was a void. I wondered why all this money wasn't making me happy. With Lootera, I didn't even read the script. I didn't know what my character was about. I just wanted to work with Vikramaditya Motwane. I had seen Udaan twice over and when I watched it for the second time I wondered why they hadn't tested me for the film. Rajat (Barmecha) and I fell in the same age bracket!
THAT CALL FROM AAMIR KHAN…
There was a screening of Dil Dhadakne Do happening at Yash Raj Films, which Aamir (Khan) sir had attended. After the film, I believe he asked Ranveer (Singh) who I was. Ranveer told him I was the same guy who had acted with him in Lootera. Next thing I know, I get a call from Ranveer saying somebody wanted to speak to me.
Of course I recognized his voice but my mouth went dry. I honestly don't remember much of that conversation. Being the energetic Duracell bunny that Ranveer is, I wasn't even sure if it was a prank. Let's get real – never in my wildest dreams did I imagine Aamir Khan would initiate a call to me. So now when there are tougher days, I just think about that call and tell myself to hang in there!
HOW TO BECOME THE PART
Different characters require you to use different techniques to prepare for them. Getting the diction right for Half Girlfriend for instance was very easy for me because my cook Rajesh is from Sitamani in Bihar. I had 4 months to prepare for the film so I would sit with him and read my scenes. He's very happy with my performance and says, 'Bhaiyya bahut badiya kiye hai.'
For A Death in the Gunj, Konkana (Sen Sharma) asked me not to shower for 23 days. So I didn't wash my hair for the entire duration of the film's shoot. When I was doing Lootera, which was a period film I stayed away from my phone & any form of technology for the entire shoot. This one time, I overheard Vikram tell Ranveer to stop using perfume for the film so I picked that up and used it for my character as well.
MAKE YOUR OWN RULES
I don't have a publicity team and I've never shot a portfolio in my 14-year career. I have very consciously made sure that I don't have people around me telling me what to do and what not to do. My theory is simple – It's my career, my ambitions and my dreams.
I believe that no body will know it better than I do. Whether you are an outsider, or an insider or someone with all the facilities or none at all, if you can justify what is on paper in front of the camera then even if it takes you 14 years like it took me – you will reach there! Raasta lamba ho sakta hai but you will reach safely and soundly. There are no two ways about it.
Watch the whole interview here: