Ankur Rathee also praised his sister and Broken But Beautiful 3 actor Sonia Rathee.
Ankur Rathee, since his debut with The Tashkent Files in 2019, has created a space for himself in the entertainment industry within no time. He played a pivotal role in Amazon Prime’s Four More Shots Please!, had a brief role in Made in Heaven, and also starred in Thappad with Taapsee Pannu. His latest works include Undekhi, Taish and the second season of City of Dreams.
In an exclusive interview with OTTPlay, Rathee spoke about his journey so far and his decision to leave the United States for a movie career. The budding actor also shared his thoughts on sister Sonia Rathee’s career, who was seen in Broken But Beautiful Season 3 with the late Sidharth Shukla.
Edited excerpts from the conversation:
Pandemic or not, you have become one of the busiest actors with projects releasing back-to-back. What do you have to say about the way your career is shaping?
I feel very blessed. I did not expect that the work I did before the pandemic would be out during the pandemic, and I am very grateful for that. My strategy has always been to work as much as I can. When your work releases, you get to reap the benefits. So I'm feeling very grateful that I'm in a position where people are getting to see my work, that's all.
You are an actor who has been a part of off-Broadway plays, movies, and even web series. What difference do you find in these mediums? Does it change your process towards the craft?
The difference is less in the medium but more in me as an actor. Honestly, every medium has its nuances. But when it comes to acting, I would like to think that I'm also growing and becoming better with each project.
At what time did you decide to move to India to pursue your acting career?
Insanity! Okay. I couldn't tell you honestly, besides the fact that I had a very strong intuitive feeling that I want to work in India. I fell in love with Hindi movies when I was a kid. I used to watch movies with my grandfather. Then I got an opportunity to fulfil my dreams and pursue my ambitions. So I leapt, and it was I would say somewhat insane because I didn't know anyone here but I think it worked out just okay.
Let's go back to the time when you auditioned for the first time.
When I came to Mumbai, I made a list of people who I might know in the city. I called a few people until I got a few contacts that could guide me to the right path. I met a lot of people, even actors who gave me the direction about getting a chance to audition. Initially, I auditioned a lot for TV commercials.
Any memories of initial auditions? What kind of responses/feedback would you get while you were still trying to crack roles/parts?
Genuine silence, which is the worst, right? You would much rather leave a room knowing whether they hated it or they liked it but silence is so daunting because then you're left with your greatest fear which is your thoughts. Some people used to laugh it off, while there were people who praised me. There was no uniform response, but I learnt something very early that it's better to develop a thick skin to get ahead in the journey. In our profession, people are ready to give their productive and most of the time unproductive opinions.
At the very start of your acting career in India, you got a chance to work with different kinds of directors, what have been your key learnings from them?
Well, I've worked with a lot of filmmakers, they've all taught me something different. Anubhav Sinha taught me the theme or the message behind the film is paramount, sometimes bigger, often bigger than the stars within the film itself. From Nagesh Kukonoor I learnt that a fearless director is fully welcoming of new ideas and new collaborators. From Bejoy Nambiar I learned that there is just so much you can create in terms of magic aesthetically within a frame. The way he's able to capture some of the most gorgeous scenery, I've never worked with a director like that before. He knows he has a great knack for the visual aspect of that medium of filmmaking.
Your sister, Sonia, recently made her debut with a much-loved web series Broken But Beautiful season 3. What do you have to say about her career trajectory?
I have to keep reminding myself that her and my trajectory are very different and they should be. There's a respectful distance. But there's also a lot of guidance.
What would you say about Sonia's performance?
I was blown away. I was a bad actor when I started at her age, but she has taken me by surprise. The confidence which a lead actor needs is instilled in her and it has always been there.
Are there any dream actors/filmmakers you want to work with?
I would love to work with Vishal Bhardwaj, that would be fun. I think he is very talented. Generally speaking, I like to work with very smart people. I like to work with people that are much smarter than me and I think he's one of those people.
Do you think the rise in OTT projects have reduced the power of a “star”, and the shelf life of an actor?
I don't know, I think only time will tell. I think that stardom is evolving because of OTT, but if there was no OTT, stardom would have evolved anyway. The stardom which was present during the Rajesh Khanna era, it's different now. It's different when Hrithik Roshan came into the scene, and now it's different when you have Kartik Aryan. It's going to change depending on your population, depending on what they hold to be near and dear to their hearts.
I don't want to say OTT is the reason why we have these interesting scripts, because we're seeing some really interesting films also being made that have an ensemble lead, right? It's not just a hero-heroine film being made either. So, when you have unique scripts being made that require many good actors, not just two main lead actors, it opens up a whole new array of opportunities for various actors. It's exciting a lot of people get to share the spotlight, I think that's always a good thing. We get to see more talent.