Five Questions: Gulshan Devaiah

The Shiksha Mandal actor says he’d do a film in Tamil if he gets to work with Sai Pallavi
Five Questions: Gulshan Devaiah

Whether it’s a cameo, like in Badhaai Do (2022) where he played an openly-queer lawyer, or a double role, like in Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota (2018), actor Gulshan Devaiah tends to be a scene stealer. Since his debut in The Girl in Yellow Boots (2010), the actor has usually picked roles that are unconventional and even when he’s part of the supporting cast, his performances tend to catch the audience’s attention. This year, Devaiah is leading Shiksha Mandal, which has been among the most-watched Hindi shows since it started streaming.

Shiksha Mandal is based on not only the Vyapam scam but also other similar scams. Was it the research done on the issue that convinced you to take up the project?

It’s primarily a work of fiction based on many real sources. Like, my part in it is totally not based on anyone at all. I’m not really aware of the research process the writing team employed for this one and it didn’t matter to me because I saw relevance and conviction in the script. The story of Aditya, who I play, was also interesting for me. He is a regular guy, failed at becoming a doctor but good at teaching. His ego causes problems in his relationship with his lover and he burdens his sister with his ambition for her. And yet he needs to find a hero from within when his family is in danger.

The show has been one of the most-viewed Indian shows for two consecutive weeks. What aspect of the show do you think has struck such a chord with the audience?

It has a relevant story, a wide spectrum of interesting characters and I suppose it’s entertaining too. MX Player also has reach where (perhaps) no other platform has an audience base.

Your filmography is filled with morally ambiguous and experimental characters. What is your process of picking roles?

I’m very grateful I’m a working actor and I hope I never take this for granted, ever. It’s very simple. I ask myself two questions.

One: Is this interesting enough for my craft to explore/interpret?

Two: Is this good for my career?

If “YES” is my answer to both, then I’ll do it. The rest of the variables associated with the project are negotiable.

Is there a role that you would never do?

Hmm… I don’t know but I find it difficult to accept roles that require violence towards women. I’ve been avoiding proper bad guy roles too because I’m bored of them and I’d like to showcase my range as well with other types of roles.

You speak a number of languages — I believe you speak fluent Tamil? – so would you consider doing a South film?

Not fluent Tamizh but pretty good I’d say. I’d do it only if it’s with Sai Pallavi!

As a child I only dreamed about being in Hindi movies. No ads, no television, not even stage; but Hindi movies. I’ve not really thought too much about being linguistically diverse with my work but maybe ya, I’d consider it.

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