On taking up the role of a righteous young politician
I’ve never played such a strong character, but most of the work was done by the writers. Aditya is a very principled guy, and no one individual can be so righteous. He needed some basic human traits, to make him a little imperfect. This guy has the responsibility of the whole nation on him, and I didn’t want to make him look like a young guy who’s telling everyone what to do. I discussed it with Abhinay sir, and made sure that he doesn’t come across as a spoilt kid from a political family. He also has ego and ideology clashes with Jai, even when his life is in danger.
On the difficulty of playing Aditya Singhania
He’s not just a politician, when he talks to his family, he does it normally, which gives you a connect to the character. There is a lot of drama going on in his life, the plot’s quite thick, so that makes my life quite easy because there is something to do. Thankfully there weren’t too many instances where I had to give a speech, where I had to play the part of a young leader. Otherwise I was just an individual trying to find the truth, and I played him as I would play any character.
On being a part of TV after films and theatre
When I started out, I wanted to be part of new age cinema. And 24 is cinema, only the medium is TV. I’m really happy with the team for bringing this show to India. I don’t know about the reception, but someone had to do it, and I’m glad to be a part of it. If you talk about the basics, a working day on TV is a little more hectic than films. There are more scenes to do in a day, that’s the only difference.
On bonding with his on-screen family
24 has an ensemble cast, and they have steered clear of casting the usual suspects in most of the roles, which is good. 24 has a lot of theatre people, and in fact 3 of the cast members are friends of mine. So shooting with all of them put me in quite a comfort zone. Anita Raaj (Naina Singhania) is pretty easy to work with.
On drawing parallels between reel and real life
There aren’t many similarities between Aditya and Neil, apart from the fact that both are 30 years old. I don’t have an interfering family, I don’t have to be responsible for the whole nation. Honestly, this role has made me realize what massive responsibility politicians carry, keeping everyone in a country like India happy.
On the most memorable scene of the show
I didn’t get to do much action on the show, I didn’t even have a running or jogging scene! But the first speech that I had to give on the show was very interesting; there were a lot of drafts because it had to sound just right. And finally Javed Akhtar wrote the speech and I was pretty kicked to be saying lines written by him so early in my career!
On working with Anil Kapoor
It’s very important to work with the right people in the early stages of your career, so that you get the right role models. You get to learn their work ethic, their professionalism, and Anil Kapoor has a lot of enthusiasm that I plan to steal from him.
On the reception that Aditya Singhania has gotten
Aditya Singhania has managed to come out of all the preconceived notions that surrounded him and come into his own as an independent character. The makers tried to package him as a poster boy and that has succeeded, and people are getting drawn to the character. I’ve heard some good things about me, and I guess the female population is also pretty happy with Aditya Singhania!
On the best compliment he’s received for 24
My school friends e-mailed me and told me how they saw the show and couldn’t believe that it was the same Neil they knew, which is a good thing. Even my masseur Mahesh, who is blind, told me that he heard Aditya Singhania on screen, and that he sounded very different from me in real life. I guess that feels good, to make the character you’re playing believable for everyone.