Free-willing interview with Ashish Bhatt, who plays co-pilot Veeru in “Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl”

Ashish Bhatt is an emerging actor in the world of Bollywood. Interviewing him for his upcoming role in the film…

Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, Ashish Bhatt

Ashish Bhatt is an emerging actor in the world of Bollywood. Interviewing him for his upcoming role in the film Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl comes as a breeze of fresh air as he answeres most of the questions in a very candid manner.

Here are some highlights from a recently conducted interview:

What inspired you to pursue acting?

“Since childhood, an individual has different interests in choosing a career like joining the defence forces, becoming a medico and so on. For me, since my graduation, I got fascinated by movies as I enjoyed watching movies and felt like becoming a part of that profession. Ever since then, I made up my mind to pursue acting in films.”

The actor also shared that while doing his graduation, he got an opportunity to work as an assistant director for the film Tanu Weds Manu while the movie was being shot in Lucknow. He also mentioned that it was a great learning experience for him and it gave him unbound excitement.

How has been your journey from your first film to Gunjan Saxena?

“It has been intriguing, interesting, and above all a great learning experience for me. It gave me an opportunity to know myself, know about life, know about humanity and various facets of human life. Acting in films also brings an individual to different human beings with varied backgrounds that also leads to a greater journey of self-exploration.”

Tell us something about the role of a co-pilot played by you in the film which appears to be an unconventional sort of role which must have been altogether a new experience for you.

“I am playing air force, flying officer, Virendra Rana, Pilot Veeru. At the stage I am in right now, people generally look for unconventional roles rather than conventional ones. When you enact a conventional role in an unconventional manner, that becomes a challenge but portrayal in such a manner gives you the greatest creative satisfaction and at the same time one feels overwhelmingly liberated. An actor also adds a new dimension to his acting skills while doing such kind of roles. ”

“I had to rummage a lot of reading material, documentaries while preparing for this role. You get immensely excited and takes you to the next level of acting. The film revolves around the personal life of Gunjan Saxena while she is a child and we come later in the movie as we were part of the air force which Gunjan joins afterwards.”

How was the experience while working with Janhvi Kapoor?

“Amazing experience, she is a very hardworking actor. Since the role demanded tremendous amount of hard work, zeal and dedication, it was quite fascinating to see the level of eagerness evinced by Janhvi Kapoor to get under the skin of the character. When you’ll watch the movie, Janhvi comes across as an alter ego of Gunjan Saxena.”

He recalled an incident from the sets of the upcoming film and mentioned, “In one of our scheduled night shoots we were shooting a scene where Janhvi’s character is supposed to burst out on us due to all the gender biases in the force. Once the shot was done and we went to our vanity to rest, we were called once again only to realise that a particular scene is being shot again. Janhvi came to us and apologised and explained that she wanted to improve upon the previous take. That is when I felt amazed and happy that she really was so dedicated to getting the scene right. It feels really nice when you see such commitment from your co-actors.”

Apart from Janhvi Kapoor, there are other amazing actors in the film like Pankaj Tripathi and Vineet Kumar. How was your interaction with them like?

“In the film, we are 5 co-pilots all together while Vineet Kumar (Known for Gangs of  Wasseypur, Mukkabaaz) has essayed the role of our senior. We bonded with him over a special tea he had brought from Mumbai. He raps as well, he entertained us with a lot of rap verses. During the time of night shoots, to keep everyone in high spirits he would be super involved.”

“Manav Vij in the film will be seen as the commanding officer in the film. I remember it was my birthday on one of the days we were supposed to shoot and Manav Sir met me and gave me his blessings like a senior actor would do to a new actor. He also motivated me and guided me regarding finding my way in this industry effortlessly.”

“As far as Pankaj Tripathi is concerned, I only got to meet him once when the entire team met for dinner at the hotel we were staying. He had previously shot for all his scenes. We and the rest of my team members got introduced to him by our director Sharan Sharma. I will never forget the way Pankaj sir looked at us before asking the director, ‘are they, actual pilots?’. That was very motivating and we hadn’t even begun shoot for our parts by then!”

We also got to meet Gunjan ma’am once and the whole experience was highly inspiring.

Since this film deals with such an important theme of ‘women empowerment’, what is your perception about this issue?

We are bringing you the story which is based on late 90s era. Since it’s a film a lot of creative liberties are taken to show gender inequality. But as per current times, I genuinely feel a lot of change has come and is coming. I would like to give you an example, while I was out today, I saw a young girl operating a heavy cart. I saw something like this after years and she was operating it in a free-willed manner. Most people would consider this scenario normal had there been a boy behind the cart but it was a girl, not letting gender roles define her. That made me realise that this biasness only exist in the mind of a few people who aren’t comfortable with the idea. I hope this will completely go away in the coming time.

Ashish Bhatt has priorly worked in films like  Ram Gopal Varma’s The Attacks of 26/11 and Gone Kesh by Qasim Khallow. He has done theatre with stellar all-rounder Piyush Mishra with the play ‘Gagan Damama Bajyo’.

‘Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl’ will begin streaming on Netflix from tomorrow i.e. 12 August 2020.