I want people to remember me for the quality of my work: Gulshan Deviah
The Shaitan star believes that it takes the confidence to say no to surviveUpdated: Feb 08, 2020 19:05 IST
Most recently, Gulshan Devaiah, 41, played a zombie in Dibakar Banerjee’s segment of Netflix’s Ghost Stories. But he’s been making waves since 2011, when he appeared in Bejoy Nambiar’s Shaitan. Devaiah stands out. That’s the beauty of this NIFT graduate from Bengaluru; even in a crowd of very good actors, as in A Death in the Gunj, you remember him.
We sat down with him to discuss his Sunday movie rituals with his parents, being a Shashi Kapoor fan, and what it takes to survive in his industry (it takes the confidence to say no, he says). Excerpts…
You’ve had an eclectic filmography so far. Was that deliberate?
First I did whatever came to me. Then I started choosing projects that felt different. I started saying no. The reason, I think, is that what I wanted, changed. When I’m not acting any more, when I’m not here any more, I want people to remember me because of my versatility and the quality of the work I did.
What was it like working with Dibakar Banerjee on Ghost Stories?
I feel like Dibakar Banerjee is the best director we have right now in the country. He is keeping alive the legacy of Satyajit Ray, through his craft. So when he called me for this role, I was really charged. He narrated a half-hour story to me, we talked for over two hours, and I was transfixed.
Still, fleshing out a character that is more animal than human, with all the heavy prosthetics, was quite difficult. I live with cats and I observe animal behaviour closely. They can change their expressions between high, low and poker face very quickly. I tried to imitate that.
It was tough. We were shooting in low light, in the middle of a heavy monsoon, and I had contact lenses on that obscured about 25% of my vision. But all said and done, the role was exciting.
You are the quintessential outsider — not a film kid, in from another city. What has that been like?
I got interested in acting at a very young age. My parents and I, we had a Sunday movie ritual and I became a huge fan of Shashi Kapoor. Then I came to Mumbai in 2008, to chase my dreams.
I’ve realised you have to blend in, you have to have the confidence to make the city, the industry and the people your own. If you continue to see yourself as an outsider, you can never be part of something. I have enough confidence in myself and my craft to not feel like an outsider anymore. I also have the confidence to say no to roles. That is important.
Which do you prefer, theatre or film? Do you plan to step behind the camera too?
Theatre taught me everything I know about the craft today. I think theatre is like Instagram, gives you instant gratification from your audience. Films are different and I want to be a film actor. As for trying out something new, I want to be a director someday. I want to make an action film, a very ambitiously shot one.
Do you have a dream role?
I don’t have a dream role. But sometimes I get jealous of people getting some roles, like Vicky’s (Kaushal) role in Uri; I’ve always wanted to play a character in uniform. Or Ayushmann’s (Khurrana) role in Andhadhun. I tell them I’m jealous and get over it.
I’m in Amazon Prime’s Afsos, which is a dark comedy. I play a loser. It was difficult because I wanted to be a loser people would love.
I’m also doing a bilingual (Hindi and Kannada) film called Rudraprayag by director Rishab Shetty. It made my mother happy that I’m finally doing something in Kannada.