Vikrant Massey on restarting in industry: Felt I was underutilised | Bollywood - Hindustan Times

Vikrant Massey on restarting in industry: 'I did menial roles and felt underutilised'

Oct 27, 2023 06:34 PM IST

Actor Vikrant Massey spilled the beans about his latest film, 12th Fail in an interview with Hindustan Times.

Results are in for Vikrant Massey's 12th Fail and the actor has passed with flying colours. The Vidhu Vinod Chopra film deals with the failures and successes of Manoj Kumar Sharma, who clears the UPSC test despite failing his 12th exam. Vikrant, in conversation with Hindustan Times, reveals what went into his prep work for the film, which is based on a true story.

Vikrant Massey's 12th Fail released on 27th October.
Vikrant Massey's 12th Fail released on 27th October.

Also read: 12th Fail Review, Vikrant Massey delivers a superlative act

Vikrant Massey on weight loss and gain

Vikrant plays a man from Chambal and had to lose and gain weight drastically for the movie. He shared, “I lost 8-9 kgs within 3 months. But, the main challenge was to regain the weight in 1.5 months for the shoot. Khub gulab jamun, samosa khaye (I ate a lot of food).”

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While many would prefer eating out every day, Vikrant is a little different with his diet. “But I like eating home-cooked food. If you are having gulab jamun, samosa every day you will get bored eating the same thing.”

Vikrant Massey burnt his skin in Chambal

Not only did Vikrant shed kilos and gain them subsequently, but also quite literally burnt his skin to ace his rural character. The actor revealed, “There’s very little makeup used. I had to sort of tone down my skin colour. I took an extreme prep for the film. This film is by Vinod Chopra who is a perfectionist; he will never compromise. He never wanted to shoot with anything that was made up. We have shot with real students in real locations. We got Dr Vikas Divyakirti who is a UPSC professor. So, with all these things, using makeup for my looks was out of the question.”

“Vinod sir sent me to Chambal for 8 days before the shoot. He told me to go there and get tanned naturally. Every day I used to apply mustard oil on my body and sit on the terrace for 2-3 hours to sort of tan myself. My skin burnt with patches on my skin.”

Parts of 12th Fail were shot in the interiors of Chambal which remains infamous for dacoits. Vikrant who did not deal with any safety issues, shared his experience, “It’s extremely rural. Unfortunately, people still think Chambal is still filled with dakus (dacoits). It isn’t like that; we have explained it in the film as well. It has a challenging topography. The arid region is not agriculture-friendly; it’s extremely hot. I spent 18-19 days in the extreme rural parts of Chambal. I had a great time. Had Vinod sir not sent me earlier I don’t think I would have felt the character eventually.”

Vikrant also prepared his role by spending time with Mr Manoj Kumar Sharma. The actor pointed out, “Mr Manoj Kumar Sharma is a brilliant person. He is an inspiration to many. He is someone who takes life in a positive stride.”

How is 12th Fail different from other films?

While 12th Fail shells out an important message for UPSC aspirants, it also sheds light on the disparity between Hindi-English medium students. While we have had films like English Vinglish, Chhichhore and Dasvi, what makes Vikrant's film different? He opined, “It's not just about the Hindi language, but the film mainly talks about restarting life and its struggle. The common perception is that if one fails in academics then they will fail in life. I don't agree with that. Yes, education is a gateway to a better life but only academic success is not success. If you have failed then you can restart and still achieve your dream.”

“Log sochte hai agar aap padhai likhai me ache nahi hai, English nahi bol sakte toh aapka kuch nahi hoga (people think one can only have success with their academics or English-speaking skills) … We have such 100 examples from our country who have achieved a lot and they all come from such humble backgrounds. These people empower you. Our film does the same, it will inspire you. It’s much more than the disparity between Hindi and English. It talks about the very practical situation of our country--the UPSC exam. I know people who took years to crack the test and those who exhausted all attempts and achieved nothing.”

Hindi vs English debate is not uncommon in our country. Whenever classism is portrayed in films, we often see the characters speaking in Hindi, mostly. Even fans are conditioned to believe that all celebs of Hindi films will only interact using Hindi in their real lives.

Vikrant Massey on language divide in India

Commenting on the English over Hindi influence in daily life, the 36-year-old actor firmly said, “There’s an elitist perception that those speaking in English are cool. This is the unfortunate reality. Aisa hona nahi chahiye (this should not be the case).”

He continued, “We have said in the trailer too that if 1 lakh students from Hindi medium schools appear for the UPSC test then only 25-30 make it. This is the real disparity. Why are regional languages not given the opportunity? India is a diverse country, we have so many different languages and backgrounds. Regional languages don't have that much of an identity at the national level. It’s very challenging for people like my character Manoj Kumar Sharma. There is a disparity but people just want to shove it under the carpet. Nobody wants to address it.”

Vidhu Vinod Chopra's new has taken Vikrant's career to a new height. But, just like the film, it wasn't very easy. Drawing examples from his own life, Vikrant talked about restarting and re-shaping his professional life at various times.

He said, “All of us restart from time to time. Life is very placid and if not, then something must be wrong. It’s how life goes on. Zindagi me utaar chadhav hotein hai (life is filled with ups and downs), be it personally, professionally or physically. You might restart your life at different times. I had my fair share when I quit my dancing job and came to television. Then I quit television; it was a very conscious, informed decision. I wanted to give myself a chance in cinema.”

“When I was in the cinema I was doing these menial bits. I felt I was underutilised. Then I had to start all over again to convince people to give me a chance and I did better and finally, I am here today. After covid, my film came out,” he added beaming.

Vikrant is soon going to hit a new milestone in his personal life as he awaits his first child with wife Sheetal Thakur. The dad-to-be shared his emotions before the arrival of the little one. “It’s the most beautiful phase of my life. Right now the priority is that the mother and the baby should be healthy. Just want everything to get over without major complications. I take it as it comes every day. I haven’t planned much. I am just praying every day for my family.”

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    Sneha Biswas is an entertainment journalist with Hindustan Times. She writes about Bollywood, K-Drama, K-Pop, OTT shows, exclusive interviews and everything else about your favourite celebrities.

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