Lasyapriya Sundaram (BOMBAY TIMES; June 29, 2017)

Kartik Aaryan is five films old and he might not have broken into the big league yet, but the actor is on his way to finding a space for himself in showbiz. While he admits he has a knack for comedy, he fears being labelled a comic actor. With his upcoming film Guest Iin London all set for release, Kartik talks about his struggles and reveals how he has been part of a crowd in a film just to earn some money. Read on...

Guest Iin London is a comedy. Do you believe comedy is your forte?
The audience has reacted well to my comic timing. But, there are other aspects to my acting. I believe I will be able to showcase them over a period of time. In the industry once people see you in a certain mold, you start getting offered only those kind of roles. Comedies are working for me and I'm loving it.

Don't you think you could be typecast as an actor who does comic roles and might lose out on roles as a lead actor?
I think I am perceived as a competent actor who also looks good. I am very lucky to be in the space that I am in today. There are a lot of actors who would want to be in this space that I am in. The grass is always greener on the other side. Sometimes, I wish I had been offered a particular character. But when I look at the opportunities I have got, I feel that I am fortunate. Take, for example, my role in my debut film, Pyaar Ka Punchnama. I was given the chance to deliver the longest monologue in the history of Hindi cinema. That's something a lot of people would have wanted to do. Also, I am from a small town, these opportunities that I have got so far are a big deal for me. Things which I had dreamt of are actually happening to me. I am not going to consciously break any stereotype. Tomorrow, if I am offered the role of an anti-hero, I would gladly do it.

While some people loved your monologue in Pyaar Ka Punchnama, others felt it was sexist.
I had seven days to prepare for the scene. It was a twelve page monologue and honestly, I related to it instantly (laughs). That's why it was easy for me. When I said the dialogue, I was a bit worried. I wasn't sure how it would be perceived. I wondered if the character would come across as negative. When I performed it for the first time on the set, a group of girls clapped and hooted the loudest. That's when I realized that they are taking it in the right spirit. There are lots of films which stereotype men and that is accepted. The film was a comedy and portrayed women in a certain way and it didn't necessarily generalize. I personally didn't endorse the film. My female fans have loved the monologue. In fact they even asked me for relationship tips.

There were many newcomers in your debut film. But you seem to have raced ahead of them all...
We all started together and I wouldn't say that I was better than them. Being a part of the industry is a gamble for me. Sometimes it works for you, and sometimes it doesn't. You can choose the best scripts possible and it might not work for you, but you can't do anything about it. You can work on your image and that's what I have done. Also, destiny and luck play a role. Hundreds of factors have to work in your favour for you to sustain your self in the industry. Sometimes your choices can backfire. Also, I don't do too many films and choose wisely. That's working for me.

At what stage were you bitten by the acting bug?
I became a movie buff when I was in Class VIII. I liked watching Akshay Kumar and Shah Rukh Khan on screen. I have been an ardent follower of these two super stars. My friends thought I looked good and encouraged me. I was in Class X when I made up my mind that I wanted to be an actor. I am from a middle-class family in Gwalior, so I never told my parents about my aspirations. I was preparing for my exams but at the same time, I knew I wanted to come to Mumbai somehow. So, I applied to colleges here, cleared the entrance exam and that was my ticket to the city. At that time I was staying in Belapur. I would travel from there to Andheri for acting classes. I did some commercials too. I got films but they never took off. I have, in fact, been part of a crowd in a film to earn money. Eventually I got the chance to audition for Pyaar Ka Punchnama, which went on for six months. I used to travel by local train and change in the washroom for my auditions. It is the story of a typical struggler. They had auditioned about 800 people. So, being chosen among them boosted my confidence. Once I got my contract for the film after three years of struggle, I told my parents. I chose to tell them only when I had a film in hand because if they had known about my dreams, they would have felt bad as they couldn't have helped me out in any way. Also, I have no qualms in admitting that I have struggled, because whatever I have achieved so far is something I am proud and grateful for.

Have you been subjected to casting couch in the industry? Is it a reality that you have to deal with?
I can't deny the existence of casting couch. If your talent speaks for itself then you don't have to resort to it. Also, there are hundreds of directors, producers and casting agents. Even if things don't work out with one person, it might with another. You don't have to fall victim to the casting couch to break into the industry. I was launched with a bunch of newcomers and it happened in a legit way. It is prevalent but the choice is with us.

Where do you stand when you compare yourself with your contemporaries in the industry?
I don't plan anything. I am always on the lookout for roles which will help me better myself. They are all very good. I am a greedy actor and I want the best roles to come my way. Or at least want to be a part of movies which I would love to go and watch in the theatre. I don't think about positioning myself. I just think about doing good films. When I saw Ranbir Kapoor in Rockstar, I wished I was offered that role. He has done a fabulous job. It is a character I would love to play . Also, I loved the character of Bajirao, which was essayed by Ranveer Singh in Bajirao Mastani. I hope I am offered such roles.