The action-packed comedy film ‘Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota’ released only a few months back and the exuberance of Bollywood’s fresh face, Abhimanyu Dassani has outrightly bowled over the audience. With nerdy looks, side-shield glasses and a vivacious smile, the quirks and charms of Surya were simply unmissable on-screen. Off-screen, it is his diligence, creative energy and his unwavering determination which outshines more than anything else. His words are a delightful cocktail of prudence, composure and spunk. Wedding Affair (WA) gets in conversation with Bollywood’s upcoming sensation Abhimanyu Dassani (AD).
WA: What inspired you to become an actor?
AD: At the age of 16, I became an entrepreneur, I started my own event management company. For the next eight years, I dabbled in different businesses and start-ups in varied industries, most of which were successful. During this period, I realised what really excited me was not the day-to-day running of a business but creating something and making it substantial. I realised that the maximum innovation where you create something and move on to another project, lies in films. So, I got a meeting fixed with director-producer Rohan Sippy and persuaded him that I could work as an intern on his film ‘Dum Maaro Dum’. On the sets of ‘Dum Maaro Dum’ is where the acting bug really bit me and a couple of conversations with Abhishek Bachchan actually eased my mind, giving me a straight headway to what I really wanted to do. I am grateful to Rohan Sippy and Abhishek for giving me the opportunity to broaden my understanding.
WA: How did you bag your first project ‘Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota’?
AD: Before ‘Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota’ fell in my lap, I was constantly auditioning for a couple of films, many of which came back to me. But at that time, I didn’t feel certain enough to be a part of those films or confident about myself. With four-five weeks of auditioning with Vasan sir (Director, ‘Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota’), each day from nine to six, I spent a lot of time learning. His belief made me believe in myself and lead me to sign ‘Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota’. The film went on to carve its way through multiple international routes.
WA: What was the most challenging part of playing the character of Surya?
AD: The character of Surya had a different voice, a different body language. He’s a man-child and not jaded by society. He didn’t have insecurities. To reach that kind of innocence, was extremely tough. Yes, of course getting physically trained into martial arts as my role demanded, which I didn’t know anything of, was an amazing experience. Finding myself in the process of becoming Surya was excruciating but at the same time very enriching. So, nailing Surya’s innocence was something extremely crucial and important for the film.
WA: You have worked meticulously behind the scenes as an assistant director in films ‘Dum Maaro Dum’ and ‘Nautanki Saala!’. Tell us more about your experience.
AD: It was extremely gratifying to work on both the films. ‘Dum Maaro Dum’ was where I got to spend a lot of time with Abhishek Bachchan who is a very cool guy. I learnt a lot from him about the industry and moreover the mindset that I needed to understand as to who I am, and where I wanted to be. With ‘Nautanki Saala!’, I got to share my learning time with Ayushmann Khurrana who is such a humble and a good person. Inculcating those values into my life system was extremely important to me and to my upbringing as an actor. For both of these opportunities, I am really grateful to Rohan Sippy. I learnt so much from Rohan about filmmaking and being on set. Yes, I did get ragged a lot during the first few years by the other assistant directors because I was the junior-most. I would be given wrong call-times. Sometimes they would call me two hours before the shoot was supposed to start, sometimes two-hours late. So, I wouldn’t be on time and then everyone would raise their brows for me being late.
WA: If not an actor, what would you be doing in life?
AD: Well, I did my majors in finance and tried my hand at multiple businesses while growing up. But I would love, love, love, to do something with food. And by food, I do not mean to open a restaurant. Something related with agriculture because I love food. That’s something I would do even later in life.
WA: The film ‘Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota’ released as ‘The Man Who Feels No Pain’ outside India, where it received several international accolades. It received a standing ovation at the 2018 Mumbai Film Festival. You also bagged the Best New Young Actor Award at the 3rd International Film Festival and Awards • Macao. How does it feel to win the appreciation of the audience for your very first film?
AD: It is absolutely great being recognised for your hard work all around the world by international directors and producers.
The entire experience is extremely heart-warming and at the same time, it is also very encouraging. For all these years of continuous hard work, you feel you are doing something right and this feeling is extremely gratifying and satisfying.
I am grateful that I got this opportunity to portray Surya. My connectivity with the international film fraternity has really humbled me, as these are the kind of people that I had aspired to be. I would watch films of influential actors multiple times as a child. They are the people that have seen my film and that’s just amazing. So I’ve definitely inculcated a huge amount of gratitude in my life for every opportunity I have received and everything that I get.
WA: Your mother Bhagyashree is one of Bollywood’s most iconic actors of the early ‘90s. What was your her advice when you decided to step into Bollywood?
AD: My mother’s advice for me was to pursue whatever made me content and happy, while being a good person because she believes good things happen to good people.
WA: A character that you would love to play and why?
AD: The Telugu drama-film ‘Arjun Reddy’, which is being remade in Hindi as ‘Kabir Singh’. I think that’s a brilliant role and I would have loved to do something with it. But Shahid Kapoor is extremely talented and I can’t wait to see what he does with this role. He is a brilliant actor.
WA: What are the secrets to your fitness?
AD: Diet! Diet! Diet! Diet!
It is about eating the right food and not eating less. It’s always about being happy.
Well, the secret number one is to drink lots of water. Secret number two is to listen to your body. Do not work harder than you can. Secret number three is to be consistent in whatever you decide to do; not working out three times a week and then taking three weeks of holiday. It’s just being at it persistently because discipline in fitness is important.
Favourite Pastime: Watching and playing football, listening to music, and watching films.
Favourite Cuisine: Japanese
Favourite Holiday Destination: New York
Your Go-To Outfit: Blue jeans and a blue pullover.
Your Celebrity Crush: Ranbir Kapoor
Currently Binge Watching: ‘My Hero Academia’
A Song Stuck In Your Head: ‘Talk’ by Khalid
Favourite Shopping Destination: Not much of a shopper. I’d rather travel for food.