Gaurav Chopraa recently made a smashing comeback on television after successfully testing the web waters. With remarkable performances on the digital medium, Gaurav returned as the male lead Advik in new Zee TV show Aghori, last month. Not only does he play a character he has never tried before, but it is something that hasn’t been explored on Indian television either. In an exclusive conversation, Gaurav shares that he doesn’t want to repeat his previously successful roles. Moreover, he explains the reason he stayed away. Read excerpts from the interview here:
You can now watch the latest episodes of Aghori here:
Q. Tell us about your co-stars Parag Tyagi and Simaran Kaur.
The atmosphere on the sets is very positive. Everybody on the sets is pleasant and smiling. There are days when we have people shouting at each other, but it never gets intense. Parag Tyagi and I know each other for a very very long time. We never really worked together but know each other through common friends. I know him, of him, his wife, through many many people. We have that comfort, he came in the industry before me, he is my senior but is very friendly. We continue with cooperative conversations and friendliness. He would tell me if my hair is good or out of place, I’d tell him if the tattoo is smudging. He kind of knows everything I have done, and somebody who has known your journey will always see you with due respect. Within friendliness, if you can maintain that kind of respect, it’s great.
Simaran Kaur is very sincere and diligent. If the director would tell me it’s not happening, she would try, try, try and try till she gets the shot right. She imbibes and absorbs, there are times when I help her and then there are times she openly asks me for help. She doesn’t come across as someone who isn’t matured. It’s a very cooperative atmosphere on the sets, we discuss when I would look at her, or say a dialogue at what point. I explain to her why I am improvising or doing something that’s not in the script. Besides, she and I are both from Delhi, so we have fun on the sets too. Of course, she is very pretty.
Q. Do you regret missing out on any roles?
There are a couple of film projects that I got in the past and didn’t work out for some reason. But it actually is true, whatever happens, happens for a reason. When you look back you realize, why it didn’t happen. It wasn’t a conscious decision to stay away from the TV, it was just an instinctive reaction to whatever was being offered. It is that TV was offering me a role that seemed like a rehash of my previous successful roles, that’s what TV does actually. My complaint about TV is that the people conceiving and programming know you lesser than your audience. Your audience still follows you, knows you from your social media, they know you can look different or talk differently. Now people programming it, they have only known from the parts you have done. They don’t have the time to see the diversity that you can offer. People now call me by the name of my character from a recent web series I did. The role is immortalised for them now. The actor gets too comfortable. You know that if I do this or say this, it gets me the clap. You start taking that success for granted and become lazy.
Like for Aghori, I am excited every day. I am excited even if I get dark circles, come back home with bruises, costume or no costume, I am excited. The director has pushed me at times, I have pushed him on other, we have shot risky stunts and all. The point that I am making is, it was an instinctive reaction over the repetition of my previous successful role that I was being offered. Whenever they have a character that reminds them of a successful character that I have played, it becomes very limiting as an actor doing the same kind of roles back to back. How will you ever grow, how will you ever learn more? Whether you are five months old or five years old in the industry, you have to be learning. The process never really ends. So we have to go to new characters, new roles, and new situations.
I played one character on the web which is very Fifty Shades of Grey, then I did a theatre production – from erotic romance to eternal classic romance, then I played a poet, from that to playing an Aghori – it’s the kind of variety that I think nobody’s done. I just kept saying yes to the next interesting thing and no to the less interesting one. I didn’t plan it. Maybe I am not being too modest, but nobody in this country has been able to do this kind of variety. If somebody were to see these projects back to back, they’d understand that they are all the extreme opposites of one another. These roles required a lot, including physical transformation. I am glad I have had the opportunity to showcase this kind of variety.
Q. How did your two very distinctive looks on Aghori come together?
It was huge, exhausting process. It is so not done on TV before, the long-hair man-bun look especially. As a hero, when you are on a TV show, you’d still imagine it on a digital show, but for a regular show that man-bun long hair look. It’s one look at a time. I have to give credit to the creative team and channel creatives as well. They have wanted it to be different and that’s brave. A lot of accessories, the look, the outfits, we finally cracked it after a lot of trials.
In any case, the performance as a modern-day man is different from that of the aghori’s role, but the look had to somehow remind they are the same person. There is this ring I wear, in both the looks, it’s like black granite. You can see it in the aghori look and the modern-day look as well. This Trishul on his forehead, every time he exercises his special powers, it comes back. These were not part of the scripts, these are my suggestions. The symbol should be representative of the powers. I imagine young kids who would go home and watch the show after a long boring day.
Q. Like Advik, do you have a guru in your real life?
My father has been my mentor in so many ways. I still remember what he told me when I was 7 or 8, and those conversations have been playing a part in my life.
Q. What has been your wife, Hitisha Chopraa’s reaction to your stint and look on Aghori?
She is my sounding board. If I say yes to something, I am constantly building a character in my mind. I am a difficult person to live with like that. I keep passing ideas, I keep telling her I want to do this, I want to do that. She sees how every character has its own construction process. She also sees me trying to switch off, she is actually the one person who sees it all up close including the fact that it also gets tough.
Q. You have been the voice of Thor in the Hindi version of three Marvel movies. If a character like that is ever made in India, would be up for it?
I am kind of doing that now. Not just the hair and all, Thor is the lord of thunder. In the second episode of Aghori, I evoke thunder then I evoke lightning in the following episodes. When I would dub for Thor, I would enact the scenes too. I cannot do it otherwise. So I have been sort of doing it for three years now (Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame) in the dubbing studio. But I am happy to play an Aghori because it comes from our own soil. Instead of playing somebody from else’s universe, this is something that comes from our own.
What are your views about Gaurav Chopraa’s portrayal of Advik in his new TV show Aghori? Share your views in the comments box below.
In the meantime, watch the season finale of Karenjit Kaur: The Untold Story of Sunny Leone on ZEE5 now