On being a part of 24
It’s very simple, I wanted to be a part of 24. I had met Anil Kapoor at an event through a common friend. I told him that I had heard that you’re doing 24, and he was very open about it. Later we lost touch. Later Udayan Bhatt (Tej) told me that Abhinay and Ajinkya Deo are adapting 24 in the Indian context. So i met them and was on board as Vikrant Maurya.
On choosing the role of Vikrant
Vikrant is a ‘mazedaar’ character, but is not pure evil. His motives are clear- he’s angry that his father was sidelined in his own party and now he wants his due. He has a sense of humour and mischief even when his plans are bad. Honestly, I would have liked to play the role of Aditya too. But I had been a youth leader in one of my shows. Abhinay told me that Vikrant is a ‘tedha’ character that I would enjoy playing, so I did.
On making Vikrant entertaining
Of course, Vikrant is the main antagonist but I didn’t want to make him straight out evil like the demons in mythological shows, with the malicious laughter. And the team was always very open to my suggestions about how I should do a scene. You don’t think of improvisations beforehand, but when you’re reading the lines, you form that scene. And 9 out of 10 times, my thoughts were accepted. Like when I was talking to Raja in the rally, I added a line at the end of the conversation ‘Na nishaana achha hai na sense of humour’. So its little things like these that add flavour to the scene. Pardon my language, Vikrant is a haraami, but he’s an amusing haraami.
On working with Abhinay, who is a friend
I was a model when I started off, so I did my first ad with Abhinay. He’s a friend and I connect with both Abhinay and Ajinkya in different ways. It’s good to work with someone you know and like because there’s a different kind of understanding while shooting. The tuning and the enjoyment is on a different level. I also had fun when the two other directors were shooting their episodes, and it’s good to watch everyone’s different approach to the show.
On his experience of working with the cast
All of the cast members are very good, I had a great time working with all of them. Sabke saath dosti ho gayi. Shivani (Divya) used to go into the depth of every scene and tell me that ‘We could do this scene like this’, so there was a lot of give and take in the shoot. Neil is also a very good co-star to work with. Obviously I’m sad that I didn’t get to shoot with Anil Kapoor, but that’s ok.
On the reception for Vikrant’s character
Vikrant is a person that the audience love to hate, and it’s a good thing. The reactions are very good, and the character has been very well received. But the reaction that has stayed with me is Anil Kapoor’s. During the recent 24 success party, I went up to him to greet him, and the enthusiasm with which he met with was superb! He personally took me around to meet people and told them that I had done good work in the show. It felt great to see that the Anil Kapoor whose films I ran out out of boarding school to watch, was being so warm and appreciative. He’s taking an interest in my future projects too, which is great.
Parting words for 24
The whole show has been written beautifully by the writers, and I had a lot of fun playing Vikrant in the show. Lee Marvin had once said, that whether the guy (character) is good or bad, you have to believe he’s right. That is where the conviction for playing the character comes. The plan was to ‘Go out and entertain’, and that’s what has worked in the show.