Vaibhav Tatwawaadi in conversation with Padma Iyer talks about how he became an actor, journey from theatre to films, his tryst with Bollywood, future projects and more
How did your journey as an actor begin?
I come from a middle-class family in Nagpur. When I was in tenth standard in 2008, at the time in Nagpur, good education meant being an engineer or a doctor. And I was very sure that biology was not my cup of tea, so MBBS was out of the question. Then the only thing remained was engineering. But I was always interested in acting. I was an integral part of theatre groups in Nagpur. I was always into it, so I think in my eighth standard, I had decided that I want to get into acting.
So I told my parents that this is what I want to be. Like in any middle-class family, when their eldest son says that he wants to become an actor, there was a pin drop silence. But both of them were very supportive. My dad was very clear that he was not going to produce movies for me nor was he going to put in money in films for people to cast me. So he said that ‘we will definitely support you, but there has to be a plan’.
My family and I believe that the right thing has to be done at the right time. So education should be the first priority. For me it was engineering and that was the turning point of my life. I studied in Pune and that college turned out to be engineering cum acting school for me. I was able to groom myself as an actor and as an individual there. From there the journey started.
I started with Marathi serials. Then Marathi films happened. During that time my first Hindi film Hunterrr happened. This was followed by Lipstick Under My Burkha, Bajirao Mastani and then Manikarnika.
Did you always plan the transition from theatre to TV and then films?
I will be very honest. I am a businessman at heart. I had planned certain things but I won’t categorise that this is one level up or that is one level down. Acting was always a priority and I enjoy doing that. There is a shift when it comes to performance on stage and performance in front of the camera. As an actor you need to understand that shift and it takes time, at least a year or so. Gradually I got used to it. My first Marathi film was Coffee Ani Barach Kahi with Prarthana Behere, which was a success at the box office.
How did Hindi films happen?
I had shot for Hunterrr when I was still doing Marathi films, but it released much later. I was not expecting much from the film, as my role was not a very prominent one. I was therefore surprised when friends praised me. But it was in Bajirao Mastani that people in the film industry – the casting directors and directors took cognizance of my work. I was shooting for Lipstick Under My Burkha after I had auditioned for Bajirao Mastani. The film was not an easy journey for me as I had not done a period drama before and that too at such a large scale. But I had everyone’s support from Bhansali sir (Sanjay Leela Bhansali) to Ranveer (Singh).
You have dabbled in different platforms and different genres. Was it the fear of being typecast that drove those choices?
When I choose a film, the businessman in me doesn’t come in. He is a silent spectator. When you read a script, there is an inner voice in every creative person that tells you whether you should do it or not. As an actor, you are 99.9 per cent sure of that. The other factors come into play later. In Marathi, to a certain extent, I had the fear that I may get typecast doing the rom-coms that I was doing. But Hindi came to my rescue because all the four films that I did were completely different.
What are your upcoming projects?
I have completed a web film with Raima Sen and then there is Pondicherry with Saie Tamhankar and Amruta Khanvilkar. The web film is actually four stories directed by four directors. My film is directed by Mahesh Manjrekar. It is in Hindi. I have also done a web series in Marathi, Hutatma, which is on the Samyukta Maharashtra movement. Pondicherry is a film shot on a smartphone. It was a wonderful experience working with Saie, Amruta, Neena tai (Kulkarni) and Mahesh sir. I have also started a production house. We are planning to produce web series and films. We are in talks with studios for tie-ups. My younger brother Gaurav and I are partners. I have received a lot of love and encouragement from my friends in the industry. So I am looking forward to that.