“I have made peace with films releasing directly on streaming platforms” – Gulshan Devaiah

Anish Mohanty

The last time I spoke to Gulshan Devaiah, I complained to him about the fact that we do not get to see of him enough on the screen. The actor assured me by saying that he will be seen a lot more frequently in the times to come. And, that seems to be happening what with him doing a bunch of films and digital shows in the recent times. In this exclusive interview, he talks about ‘Commando 3’, being disappointed with the underwhelming box-office response to ‘Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota’, why he has made peace with films releasing directly on streaming platforms, sharing the screen with Manoj Bajpayee in ‘Hinterland’ and more.

After ‘Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota’, you are playing a villain again in ‘Commando 3’. This is however a completely different world.

Well, I try to understand the cinematic world I am getting into at that particular point of time and try to do my best as an actor. I enjoy watching all kinds of films and as an actor also, I would like to be a part of diverse films. Every director has his own vision and as an actor, I have to follow it and try to do justice to do it. Vasan Bala’s sensibilities are completely different from that of Aditya Datt, so as an actor I have to be malleable enough to mould myself according to what they expect out of me.

In the trailer, we do not see you doing much action. Can we expect you to perform some stunts in the film?

You will have to watch the film to know that. All I can say is that the character I play operates more with his brain than his brawns. He makes devious plans and finds interesting ways to execute them. It would look a little odd to pit Vidyut and me against each other in a hand-to-hand combat. He has a far more broad physique than me. It made perfect sense to show John and him indulging in intense action sequences in ‘Force’ as the two of them look equals as far as the physique is concerned but here, it would have looked a little weird.

‘Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota’ was received very well at the numerous film festivals but it did not do very well at the box-office. Was that disappointing?

Yes, it was disheartening to see the film not doing well at the box-office. Yes, it did get a lot of love at the festivals but one has to understand that the audience at these festivals is very different from the audience which comes to the theatre to watch the film. There were a lot of issues with the release itself. A major multiplex chain did not screen the film. I believe the word of mouth was positive but there were not enough screens for people to go to. Also, I think releasing the film alongside an Akshay Kumar starrer (‘Kesari’) was a bad idea (laughs). Maybe, these were the reasons why the film did not work or maybe the audience was just not interested in watching the film. One would never know but it was sad to see the film not being received well in the theatres. Thankfully, it has been loved by those who have watched it on Netflix. I am sure the film will continue to find an audience for itself over time.

‘Cabaret’, a film which you had acted in, released directly on a streaming platform. The last time we spoke, you had said that every film must get a theatrical release before it comes out on TV or online. The trend of releasing certain films online is growing now.

I think I have made peace with films releasing directly on streaming platforms (laughs). I guess there are certain films which people prefer watching at home and not in theatres. It is not because they are bad films but for different reasons, people do not get compelled to step out of their homes, buy a ticket and watch the film in the theatre. During ‘Vishwaroopam’, Mr. Kamal Haasan had expressed the desire to release the film both in theatres and online simultaneously. That did not happen then but I guess it makes more sense to release certain films online than putting them out for exhibition in theatres. Earlier, some films would get a release on DVD which was very bad. A film would just die then and there. An online release is a much better option as it helps the film reach out to a large number of people with time.

Kabir Singh director Sandeep Reddy Vanga made some statements in an interview and you expressed your disapproval over it on Twitter a while back.

I liked ‘Kabir Singh’ and given an opportunity would have loved to play a character like that myself. I had issues with what the director (Sandeep Reddy Vanga) said in an interview. His statements reeked of arrogance and that bothered me. He was not willing to address some of the issues a lot of people had with the film. He should have been more sensitive in that regard. Maybe, if the film had done 30 crores instead of 300 crores, he would not have said all that. I would love to work with him as he has a certain style of telling his stories which I like but yes, I had some issues with his statements and I chose to speak about them.

Much before you started acting, you had done a course in fashion designing. Do you plan to start a fashion label of your own someday?

No, there are no such plans at the moment. I had done some work with a fashion brand for some time but doing something on my own in the fashion industry will require me to invest a lot of time and energy and that in turn, will take my focus away from my primary vocation which is acting.

What are you doing next? You were supposed to do a film called ‘Hinterland’ with Manoj Bajpayee.

We are yet to shoot ‘Hinterland’. I am eagerly looking forward to start working on the film as this will the first time I will be working with Manoj Bajpayee. There is a Kannada film in the pipeline. I am very excited about this particular film as I will get to share the screen with Mr. Anant Nag in this one. I am also a part of one of the stories in the ‘Ghost Stories’ anthology film for Netflix.

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