As he completes 14 years in the film industry, Prateik Babbar, who made his debut with Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na (2008), feels happy looking back at his work in the last five years. During this phase, the 35-year-old actor was seen in a range of films like Baaghi 2, Mulk, and Chhichhore, and also made his entry into the digital space. Prateik, who was last seen in Bachchhan Paandey with Akshay Kumar, feels that he’s evolved as an actor and person over these years. In a chat with Man’s World, he talks about working with Akshay Kumar, his journey, upcoming projects, and more. Excerpts:
Over the last few years, we’ve seen you play diverse roles. Would you say that you are in the best phase of your career?
I can’t say it is the best phase of my career, but it is certainly one of the most exciting times to be an actor. There are so many wide varieties of roles being written, and we actors are getting a chance to essay them. I am getting there slowly and gradually, brick by brick, baby step by baby step.
Can you tell us something about your character in Bachchhan Paandey?
I am playing one of Akshay Kumar’s (Bachchhan Paandey) goons. My character gives the narrative many twists and turns. It was one of the most challenging roles I had to play because I had to learn Awadhi, a crass rural form of the Hindi language from north India. I play a local gangster who works for the boss gangster.
What made you say yes to it?
I couldn’t say no to the opportunity of working with Akshay Kumar. He has been my hero while growing up. It was a privilege to work in his film and ride on his shoulder. Another reason was, of course, my character. As I mentioned, he brings a lot of twists to the narrative and has a unique track in the film. It was a win-win situation for me.
You have been in the industry for almost 15 years, and it has been a journey full of ups and downs. What did it take for you to continue being positive and never give up?
Fifteen years down the line, I am still passionate and obsessed with my craft. Even if the number of years was 50, I would have said the same thing. I love acting. I live for the moment between action and cut. For me, nothing is more exhilarating than waking up and having an opportunity to stand in front of the camera.
For someone who comes from a family of actors and started out with promising films, how did you cope with the roadblocks in your career?
I took all the roadblocks and downfalls with a pinch of salt. I have learned my lessons the hard way. While having said that, I have always focused on bettering myself rather than anything else. I am a 24/7 work-in-progress actor and person. That’s what has helped me to continue on the path of growth.
How do you choose scripts now? What are the things you look at?
It is a combination of various things. Primarily, it is the story. The entire script needs to resonate with me as an audience first because only then viewers might want to watch it. I also need to understand whether it will speak to the audience or not. Then the rest follows… director, producer, dates, and so on.
Have you focused on anything specific to up your game as a performer?
Yes, I made a conscious decision to train myself in method acting. As I said, I am a work-in- progress actor, and to keep myself at my best game, I took method-acting classes. Apart from that, I also did a lot of theatre. It allows you to have a firm command over the craft because there are no retakes on the stage.
An advice you’d give to your younger self, and also to aspiring actors?
I would advise my younger self to grind and work harder. Appreciate, respect, and be grateful for everything God has gifted him. It leads to greater joy and success. Advice to aspiring actors would be to grind harder and keep grinding because there are no shortcuts to success.
From Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na to Bachchan Pandey, how have you evolved as an actor?
Over the years, I have become more sure as an actor. Now, I guess I have a better understanding of craft and more than that of the business. As an artist, one needs to know what works the best for the camera and thus the audience. With the experience, I think I have learned more about the whole dynamics.
Woh Ladki Hai Kahan, the new season of Four More Shots Please!, Madhur Bhandarkar’s India Lockdown, Hiccups, and Hookups S2, and Bachchan Pandey… We’ll be seeing you a lot more now. Can you tell us something about each film/series?
It is a fun mix of bags. In Woh Ladki Hai Kahan, I play Taapsee Pannu’s fiancé and husband in a never-seen-before avatar. The character is really exciting and has many layers. In Four More Shots Please!, Jeh and Damini’s love story continues for better or worse. You have to wait and watch to find out. Meanwhile, in India Lockdown, I essay a role of a migrant worker. Again, a beautiful character arch in a strong narrative by Madhur Bhandarkar. Lastly, Akhil continues to live a bratty life in Hiccups and Hookups S2. For Bachchhan Paandey, please go and watch it in a cinema hall near you.
(Featured Image Credits: Instagram)