Friday, 10 October 2008

Vatsal Seth, the nanhe nawab talks about Heores, Salman Khan, Preity Zinta, Mithunda and his fussy eating habits in Ladakh

exclusive by Devansh Patel

To most movie fans, worldwide, Vatsal Seth came out of nowhere in 2004, bouncing from his debut film Tarzan the wonder car to a brief appearance in Nanhe Jaisalmer, then snatching a lead role in Samir Karnik's biggest film yet Heroes which releases on October 24. Yet to Indian audiences, Vatsal was already a well known face. Having been the face of many television commercials over the previous decade, he'd become a household name. But Seth's career must surely bring hope to all aspiring screen actors. Seldom has someone of such low cinematic standing and of such little experience climbed so fast in the Bollywood firmament. Devansh Patel, Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent gets hold of the young hero and finds out about his biggest film yet, his experiences of shooting in Ladakh, his fussy eating habits, his respect for Salman Khan, Mithunda's special treat to him, Preity Zinta's non stop talking, his new six pack and why he thinks that Heroes will rise this Diwali. Over to the nanhe nawab!

The Tarzan boy has suddenly become a Hero. What say?
(laughs) I was always one. Something really interesting came up and I am very happy to be a part of Heroes.

You haven't acted in many films, and all of a sudden Heroes comes your way to be the only big film in your career so far. Is it a blessing?
I am very excited to be a part of such a huge film. It's like a blessing, you're right. I am quite fortunate to share the same screen space with all the biggies. I can't wait for Heroes to release right now.

So you've joined the bandwagon too huh? Six pack is back.
(laughs) I am not a guy who is just going to bulk it up. It's just that in the film there is one particular song where me and Sohail are shown as strippers. So for that sequence I had to go topless or should I say, shirtless (laughs). I needed to work out for that song and sorry to say but I don't have a six pack as of yet. I've got a very achievable and a real body that I've got. It's not a body who somebody will look and say - Oh wow!. Samir Karnik told me that you got to be real. Whatever you do people should identify with your character. So my body can be compared to any one else's. Plus, to look like Sohail Khan's buddy, you need to put on a bit of weight. He has a certain screen age and I don't. So I had to age up and grow up my hair too. And a stubble to match up with a man like Sohail. I was very happy when I saw the final look of mine onscreen.

Will Heroes turn you into a Nawab Saab? That's your name in the film right?
You got it. I hope so (laughs). A lot of effort has been put in to make me look like one but it may turn me into a nawab saab, can't say for sure.

You and Sohail Khan are the main protagonists of Heroes. How's the road trip been?
The way you put it isn't right. Honestly speaking, this is a film which is a character oriented film. There is no protagonist, there is no main lead, etc. All the actors on the poster are characters. I play Nawab Saab, Sohail plays Sameer aka Saand because of his bulky body, Salman bhai is Balkar Singh, etc. When you watch the film you will notice that there is no protagonist.

You were seen playing the bade, grown up Nanhe in Samir Karnik's last film Nanhe Jaisalmer. Was that the time Samir thought of casting you?
After Tarzan, I wasn't getting any interesting script. So when Samir Karnik came to me, he said that Nanhe Jaisalmer is just a cameo, it's a special appearance and whether I would like to do it. When Samir narrated me the story, I was like....I am doing this because for me the priority is the script. If the script is good, it doesn't matter if the role is big or small. Infact Samir was expecting that he would need a lot of convincing ability for me to say yes to Nanhe Jaisalmer. But it wasn't like that. So whatever little bit I did in Nanhe, he loved it. When he was writing Mera Bharat Mahaan which is now known as Heroes, I am sure that somewhere down the line he had kept me in mind.

Heroes revolves around patriotism. How patriotic is Vatsal Seth?
I am quite patriotic. I love to go to a cinema hall to watch a film because they play our national anthem. It gives me goosebums everytime I stand up and sing the national anthem. But this is another part which we want to tell the world that we all are patriotic about our own country. We all respect our brave soldires who are fighting on the border to protect our country. But when you actually meet them, you realise that they are doing much more than what we know about them and your respect for them increases. That's what happened to me. We were in Ladakh, Chandigarh, etc and when I met these soldiers, my perception towards them changed completely.

It must've been tough to shoot in the terrains?
We've travelled more than thousand miles and the tag line exactly says that. We started off in Mumbai where it was raining, then we went to Delhi where it was so hot and then went to Ladakh where it was severely cold. We've experienced all the seasons. There was a time when we were travelling from Ladakh to Manali and it's almost like a twenty hours drive where you had to take two night haults. It happened that we were like six to seven hours away from Leh where we were shooting a scene and suddenly it started pouring. Now we had to wrap up leaving the shoot incomplete. Now the question was whether or not to go back six hours or go forward by six hours and come back the next day. So it was quite tough for us to make a decision.

So what about the food then? Were you guys left starving?
That's exactly what I was coming to. There was no cell phone network where we were shooting. So our food truck didn't reach too. Instead of stopping at the shooting location, they went six hours ahead at the next pit stop. That day we survived on Maggi alone. Then suddenly we saw some lights just down the valley. So we went there and it was Indian Army's highest transit camp. Infact, it was the worlds highest. We requested the officer there to let us in and he was so sweet to offer us food too. You won't believe, there were about one hundred and fifty of us.

So how was it to be sharing screen space with all the biggies?
Initially I was very nervous. The first person I met was Sohail Khan. But the first day I met him, he treated me like his younger brother. He helped me throughout Heroes. He is the real life hero and the best co-star to have. Apart from that, I've worked with Preity Zinta in a Perk commercial five to six years back. She is very sweet and a sweetheart. It was great fun talking to her. She is always full of beans and always charged up. We are shooting at three early morning and the only voice you can hear is Preity Zinta who is talking talking talking.

You missed out Salman Khan.
(laughs) No I haven't and I can't. I've seen Salman bhai since his Maine Pyaar Kiya days. I used to always ape him when I was in school. So I was over the moon to be working with him in this film. He is the perfect buddy one can have. He invited me over to his gym and used to work out together. He also gave me some good tips. Then comes Mithundada. We've seen all his great films such as Disco Dancer and Agneepath and he is like a father figure.

I'm sure you can recall some memorable incident with Mithunda.
Yes I do. This was in Ladakh. I am a very fussy vegetarian. I love lady fingers and potatoes. I had a very tough time getting my food right. So Mithundada got to know about my fussy habit. He then cooked the best ever Bhindi ki sabzee for me yaar. It's the most amazing meal I've ever had. For fifteen twenty days I didn't have a proper meal and that day I didn't regret missing those hungry days. Also, one day we were cracking jokes and Mithuda was laughing so much that we had to call the doctor. But it wasn't serious. He said, "Maine aaj tak kabhi socha nahin tha ki tum saale log mujhe haste haste ludka doge".

We will have to talk about Samir Karnik here. Has he grown bade after nanhe?
This is a very creative medium and everybody grows from their work experience. That's what I feel. I read Amitji's interview and he too said that everytime he does a film, he learns from that something new. Samir was so clear in his characters that when he was narrating me the script, I was actually seeing the film. He was clear as to what kind of clothes I will be wearing in Heroes but it's not that he was not open for suggestions. It was great fun to work with again.

Heroes is going to be pitted against yet another multi-starer Golmaal Returns. Two different genres but both with A-list actors. Will it be a mad rush at the ticket window?
If a film is a good film and if ten good films release in one day, every film is going to do well. I think it's all about honesty. The more honest you are to your film, the better it'll work. Heroes is a different topic all together with a very sweet message along with some entertainment value. On the other hand you've got six to seven big stars. What else do you need to have for mad rush at the box office?

You forgot another USP of Heroes.

Riya Sen.
(laughs) Yes, she plays my love interest. I've never worked with her before and I am also doing another film with her post Heores. It's nice to work with people who don't have too much of ego. It's gives a very positive vibe when you're working with such people. Riya is one of them.

What's happening with the lavish premiere of Heroes in London?
We've put in a great effort to make this film and I hope people in the U.K like it as much as we've enjoyed making it. As far as the premiere is concerned we are planning to come down to London as Salman bhai is shooting there currently. But let's see, it's all upto the producers and the director. With so much commitment to the film, I'm sure the Heroes will rise this Diwali.

What's next after Heroes?
There are three to four films I'm doing. One is called 'Paying Guest', the other is 'Toh Baat Pakki' and my thrid is called 'Exchange Offer'.

Before you go we need to know which Salman Khan incident shocked you?
This is an incident which not many people know about it. People think that the image of Salman bhai in media is that of a bad boy but he is not that at all. He plays Balkar Singh, a Sikh, in the film. We were shooting in Chandigarh. He didn't want to put a fake beard and had especially grown one for the role. The pagdi which he was wearing was not like a ready made one. He also tied it out which used to take atleast twenty minutes. So I remember the two of us sitting in the van and the assistant director comes in and informs us that there had been a change in location. So Salman bhai said, "Oh God, I can't even smoke now". I told him, "What happened Salman Bhai, why can't you smoke?". He then replied, "Who is going to take out the pagdi and smoke and then again wear the pagdi?" This goes to show that he respected the turban so much.

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