Actor and YouTube star Ayush Mehra, who has worked as a romantic hero in various shows, has now surprised the audience by playing an intense role in his latest short film Recommended For You. The Free Press Journal caught up with the actor for an exclusive interview.
How was your experience working on the short film?
It was a beautiful experience working on this film because as actors, you always want to try and explore something different. What better people than Amazon miniTv and Drishyam Films, who have made some of India’s best cinema and to be associated with them on a project like this which is so intense, was amazing. When I read it, I was blown away by the idea. So overall it was a win-win situation for me and I just had to turn up with the most creative people and just be involved. So it really felt nice.
The plot and the concept of the short film is very different from the shows and films that are being made these days. Was it challenging for you to work on a project like this?
Yes, it was a challenge for me. I have information about the dark web but I have never visited it. I know a lot of people do and they enjoy entertainment of different forms on the dark web. As a character in the film, I had to be okay with that. I had to watch a lot of videos as prep. Watching those videos was a little disturbing but I had to be immune to the part. For example, a guy riding a bike falls and you laugh. As Ayush, I would feel bad for that person but as Pranav I would feel of course isko girna hi chahiye. He’s from that mentality that you deserve this. So to convert that mentality took a lot of watching these kinds of videos and making yourself immune to the situation. That feeling was a little overwhelming but I’m glad since it was a short film, it lasted only for a short period of time.
After the film got over, it took me 4-5 days to calm myself down. Those were the intense 10 days of my life but it was all worth it. When I saw the short film, it looked like all the hard work and effort put in it is showing.
Do you relate to your role in any way? Are there any kind of similarities between you and your character or can we say that Ayush and Pranav are completely different from each other?
Yes, completely different.
You didn’t sleep for two days for the film… It was done for which scene?
As a person, Pranav is a little defeated in life. He has moved on to the darker side a little. There are times when you keep on surfing on the internet and you don’t sleep, your curtains are drawn so much that you don’t know it is day or night and that’s where we wanted to start off with Pranav at. He is that kind of a person who would have done this four nights in a row. He’s fed up and is in the zone of detachment from everything. I remember discussing this with my director Shamik sir and he was like try it. I told him that I’ve never tried it before. So he was like do it and if it’s too much we’ll come to know. So I didn’t sleep for one night and then I went and met him. I was really groggy and I told him I can do another one. He looked at me and said, ‘Are you sure?” So shooting this short film was less tiring physically but mentally it was very exhausting.
You mentioned in one of your Instagram stories that you used to come to your vanity van and just cry…
It was pretty intense because there’s a part where the dark web people have reached a point where they are at your mom’s house to kill her and they’ve killed the person you have a crush on. So doing such scenes over and over again was a little overwhelming. The thought stays with you somewhere. To stop that thinking takes a while and it probably takes a distraction. I remember going to my van and associating it with real life.
How did you come out of your character?
I took like 4-5 days. I had my loved ones with me. When I chill with them I forget about a lot of things. They make me feel grounded, they make me feel at home. My parents, my girlfriend, all of them helped me a lot.
What attracted you to the role and why did you say yes to the project? Was it a conscious decision to do such a role because of the fear of being typecast?
As an actor, I always believe that you should try doing different things. This was my attempt to try doing different stuff. I genuinely feel that I am a very good drama actor. But I’ve not got an opportunity to prove that and I’m waiting for the right one. It’s just that we get a lot of things offered but sometimes it is not the right project and with this, we had all our guns blazing because we had the best people associated with. I’m very new in my career and I want to try doing new things. I don’t want to get slotted. Also, I did Recommended For You because I loved it.
Because we’ve mostly seen you play romantic roles over the years, are you this romantic and mushy in real life also?
I think you should ask this to my girlfriend. She will never agree to this (laughs). I am a little bit of that. I believe in making people smile and I believe in the language of love. When I play those parts, it comes very naturally to me. I believe that I do justice to those parts. So I am a little off it, probably not a 100 percent of what I show in characters.
You have gained a lot of popularity in OTT. Can we say that after doing so much on the web, is Bollywood your final destination?
Inshallah it is. I hope we land there very soon. There is something that has happened and I will tell you about it very soon. I’m very excited for you all to know about it because it’s taken so many years of hard work and persistence to reach this place. I’ll tell you in the coming months what is going to happen. I’m very excited for this new phase of life. I can’t say much about it right now.
Any actor or director you wish to work with in the future?
I would love to work with everyone. I’m a huge fan of so many directors like Imtiaz Ali, Zoya Akhtar, Farhan Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap, Karan Johar. I’ve seen their work while I was growing up and obviously I want to be a part of their cinema. There are so many… I can just keep naming. Any opportunity working with them would be a blessing.
Do you have any dream roles?
I would love to do action. It is a dream project.