Whenever the time is right, I will jump into direction: Actor Adarsh Gourav

Adarsh Gourav reveals how 'The White Tiger' gave him confidence in his abilities


Interview/ Adarsh Gourav actor

The first time Adarsh Gourav made an impression was in Ramin Bahrani's 2021 film The White Tiger, a gripping adaptation of Aravind Adiga's Booker-winning novel. In the character of Balram, an ambitious lower-caste servant in a rich home who pulls himself out of the shackles of servitude, Gourav was unmissable and sharp, especially in a hard-to-like role and in the shadow of co-stars Rajkummar Rao and Priyanka Chopra Jonas. It was not his first film—he played the young Shah Rukh Khan in Karan Johar's My Name is Khan in 2010. We also saw a lot of him in the past three years in the teen drama Hostel Daze, Guns & Gulaabs and Kho Gaye Hum Kahan.

Gourav is that actor who is not running the race; he is moving at his own pace and doing his own thing. He has studied music and drama and hopes to take lessons in direction. He is currently in Bangkok shooting for Noah Hawley's series Alien. “Here, every day on the set is like being at an amusement park,” he says on a Zoom call. “Everything is so new for me; the Central World building is so incredible that I'm fascinated and overwhelmed. I'll be playing one of the key characters in season 1.” The show will be out next year.

65-The-White-Tiger Steady growth: Still from the White Tiger.

Gourav has also put his music lessons to good use in his latest composition, his new single Bechaini, an ode to teenage love, in collaboration with OAFF. “I like trying out different things; it drives out the monotony,” he says. His Superman of Malegaon is due to release this year. He also has plans to fulfil his dream of working with Alia Bhatt, Wamiqa Gabbi and Nimisha Sajayan. Excerpts from the interview:

Q\ We have not seen you in a while. Tell us about Bechaini.

A\ My love for music has been passed onto me from both my parents' sides. My paternal grandmother wrote poetry and composed, but it was in a small village. She was not famous, but had the skill. Likewise, my maternal aunts sang and played instruments. I was lucky to get the right kind of opportunities to do something bigger with my talent in the sense that I could make it commercially viable. I have always been into music; I started learning it when I was five. It was Hindustani classical vocals that I began with. I trained under the Prayag gharana when I was in Jamshedpur. I learnt under two different gurus and when I moved to Mumbai I went to Ajivasan Music Academy and learned under Padma Wadkar. She saw some potential in me and encouraged me to sing for a few films in chorus parts.

64-Guns-and-Gulabs Guns & Gulabs

In Mumbai, I reached a stage in life when I got bored of it and was looking for something more exciting, relevant and appealing. Then I started venturing into punk rock and metal, and sang for a few bands in college. So there had been an entire circle with music at 23, and I got back in touch with classical and realised that it essentially forms the roots not just in terms of music but the way of life. That's when I started doing riyaz again and wrote a lot, scribbled a lot, and then Bechaini was one of the songs I wrote. OAFF and I were just sitting and chatting and I was talking about childhood when I was in love with this girl, and the lyrics of Bechaini was the result of that casual conversation. Then we composed it. Everything has to be personal for it to have a connect. I'm sure I will sometime in the future feel I have to sing what I write. It makes more sense to sing what one genuinely feels.

Q\ How do you rate yourself as an actor?

A\ I have always been a keen observer and driven by curiosity. I don't even know why I was acting for the first seven or eight years. I was on autopilot. I didn't know if I was good at it and if I wanted to do it. I was just going with the flow. And most of my acting was like doing advertisements; I wasn't doing films full time. Maybe once in a few years I would get one small role in a film or show. But I really started enjoying it after I trained myself to be an actor in 2016-2017 at the Drama School Mumbai. I started questioning why I was doing what I was doing and what were the kind of stories I was interested in and the plays and films I liked. The techniques used to understand the character and to transform myself into somebody with your voice and body changes... that is when I started really taking an interest in it. Even though I was acting before this, it was then that I got clarity about what I was doing and why. I think drama school made a huge impression on my life.

64-Bechaini Gourav's new single, Bechaini, is an ode to teenage love, in collaboration with OAFF

Q\ What is on your wishlist?

A\ I would love to work with Ari Aster, Jordan Peele, Dev Patel, Mindy Kaling, Vikramaditya Motwane and Zoya Akhtar, and Farhan Akhtar, who is a fantastic storyteller.

Q\ Which of your films do you think made your career?

A\ It has to be The White Tiger. It helped me put my name out there for people within and outside the industry. More importantly, it gave me a lot of faith and confidence in myself and my abilities as an actor. Actors often feel the imposter syndrome and they constantly feel like they are bad and untalented and that their choices are wrong. I guess you need a certain amount of confidence and faith to back yourself up as an actor, and The White Tiger did that for me. Also, sometimes when I think about the crazy journey I went on, before the film started, whether it was living in the village or working at Saket. It is almost like I am watching a movie about my own life. It feels so unreal that all of that happened just three years ago.

Q\ Acting, music and what is next, direction?

A\ I haven't planned this journey. I am into writing and I feel like whenever the time is right I will jump into direction. I would really love to change gears and push myself and start talking to people about how I can actually make direction happen, and find producers who could back me. But it will be a journey and it is going to be a bit before that happens.