Adarsh Gourav washed dishes, swept floor at a Delhi food stall to prep for The White Tiger: ‘I got paid ₹100 a day’
In The White Tiger, Adarsh Gourav played an enterprising man of humble origins who uses his street-smarts and cunning to escape the vicious cycle of poverty. To get into the skin of his character, Balram, he worked at a food stall in Delhi at a daily wage of ₹100.
Earlier this month, Adarsh earned a BAFTA nomination in the best leading actor category for his performance in The White Tiger. The film, an adaptation of Aravind Adiga’s novel of the same name, marks his first lead role.
During a chat organised by The Museum of Modern Art, Adarsh talked about his experience of working at a food stall in Delhi. “I was basically cleaning plates and sweeping the floor. I got paid ₹100 a day. I worked there for two weeks, 12 hours a day, and it was incredible, eye-opening and the hardest thing I have done in my life. There were moments when I would suddenly snap out of it, like, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’” he said.
“I would be in the middle of cleaning a plate using less soap because if I would use too much soap, he would get pissed, saying, ‘You can’t use so much soap in a day.’ And I would be like, ‘What am I doing here?’ Because there would be a big bandicoot running next to me, from an open sewer, and then I would be like, ‘This is exactly what Balram felt when he was in the village because he knew his real potential was a lot more than being just confined to the boundaries of a village, and he wanted to get out of that rooster coop, as Adiga calls it.’ I just wanted to experience that feeling of anonymity, insignificance and I stuck around for two weeks, till we started our script-reading sessions,” he added.
Adarsh made his Bollywood debut with My Name Is Khan in 2010, and also starred in Mom and the Netflix series Leila. Talking about his BAFTA nod, he told Hindustan Times in an earlier interview that being nominated alongside industry veterans like Anthony Hopkins felt ‘strange’ to him.
“Even being in the long list for BAFTA was a win for me, now anything else is a bonus. Awards are great, it feels nice momentarily but they are as good as the opportunities they create. I hope the nomination translates into some kind of film opportunity, that’s what matters. I want to have a good body of work and work with some solid people who say something unique,” he said.