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Exclusive! Piyush Mishra: I refuse scripts if I don't get the kick, even if Shah Rukh Khan features in it

Piyush Mishra plays one of the lead characters in Sony LIV's latest series, Salt City.

  • Shaheen Irani

Last Updated: 02.50 PM, Jun 18, 2022

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Exclusive! Piyush Mishra: I refuse scripts if I don't get the kick, even if Shah Rukh Khan features in it
Piyush Mishra (Instagram).

Piyush Mishra, currently seen in the Sony LIV series Salt City, said that he is very selective about scripts. The actor currently has just one web series but has a lot of other work at hand. In fact, he told OTTplay during an exclusive chat that even if a project features Shah Rukh Khan but is not something that gives him ‘the kick,’ he wouldn’t pick up the project.

The actor also spoke about his love for Mumbai, working on Salt City with little prop at hand and more. Excerpts…

This is a very serious show and your character is pretty serious too. What about Harish touched you so much that you wanted to be a part of the show?

It's nothing like that. The character isn't serious at all. You have misunderstood. This is a guy who has extra-marital relations on the show too. He has a girlfriend apart from his wife. He goes to her and comes back to his home. It's not a serious role. He's a very ordinary person who migrated from Lucknow to Mumbai. All of his kids are well-settled. He has a family but Mumbai is Salt City and so, it mixes with everything. That is something Harish has witnessed too. All his relations have drowned. They are rusted. He hasn't been able to take care of his family and that is shown in a mind-blowing way. He has extra-marital relations and is confused if they are right or wrong. It is a colourful character. He is complicated and has many layers. He is happy with his sons and still, not that happy. His third son doesn't have a proper job. His second son works in the property business and his first son wanted to work but couldn't make it happen. He has a daughter who is about to get divorced. So, you understand, this character has many layers. I like such characters so I go for it. The script was also good.

What is your criteria for choosing a role?

I read the script and it should give me a kick. Salt City script gave me that kick. That's why I said yes to this character.

You character Harish has seen so much of a change ever since he came to Mumbai. He even got into an extra-marital affair. Do you believe that Mumbai tends to change a person even in real life, even if it is the smallest change?

Fark toh padta hai. You migrate from Gwalior to Mumbai and suddenly life starts running at fast pace. If you are in Mumbai, you cannot lay back. You have to run. It is a good thing. Some people can learn from the city, others don't. If they can't learn anything, they have huge regret in their life. Mumbai teaches them speed and energy. Many cannot keep up with the energy and get tired. Others learn to run. Both the cities have their own values. Mumbai is a big city. It is Maya nagari. There are many changes that people have to embrace.

Harish also cannot forget the values he learnt from Lucknow. He cannot part with something that belongs to Lucknow. He believes that thing is priceless. He has nostalgia attached to that thing. You do find changes after migrating to Mumbai. They could be good or bad. That is a different discussion.

Being a migrant yourself, do you relate with how Harish feels? Did you face changes in your life like him?

I liked the changes in my life. I came to Delhi from Gwalior, spent 20 years there and then migrated to Mumbai. This city has given me a lot and helped me learn even more. The biggest thing this city taught me is to face my fears. Mumbai taught me how to breathe and be fearless. I'm happy with the changes I had. Others do not like the changes in them. I find it their weakness. Many people flee or withdraw. However, if you cannot learn anything from Mumbai, then you cannot learn anything anywhere. This city has such energy that it teaches you a lot. You might disintegrate but also benefit from being with the energy of Mumbai. You have to move on with both the things.

You took some time and established a name for yourself. You are among those who set an example by starting off late and still making it. What was that journey like?

It was complicated. I had to face a lot of trouble but what is life without that? It's better to take some trouble rather than do clerical job. Many situations tried to hold me back but the fun is when you push through and move on. I did exactly that. It was an extremely difficult life and time. There were many ups and downs but that was the fun. Today, I am settled. I can breathe and think. That is when I feel that my life isn't bad at all. I was depressed in life and that taught me a lot. Today, I can talk eye-to-eye with the people who tried to pull me down. They tried to stop me and I moved on. So, you tell me, who is the winner here?

How did you get out of the depressed phase? Every actor goes through it but you would have a different experience. You know, your voice is famous among the youth as well, which is a huge feat. Did you believe in yourself back then which is why you never backed out? Or did you back out? If so, how did you bounce back?

I only had the survival instinct. I did not want to die. If someone isn't working, it means they are forgotten. They are a dead body. Amitabh Bachchan is the most hearty person of this nation who is working continuously even at his age. I salute him for that. I didn't want to be a dead body like those who didn't work. I had an instinct that I want to survive no matter the situation. All I thought about was working so much that I barely get any free time. I wanted to work continuously, which is why the situations could never pull me so down that I drown. Nature has a way of testing such people by throwing them in deep waters. It was destined. I faced so much and now, in the past three-four years, I have been stable. I was addicted to alcohol. It didn't let me think properly. I was arrogant and vulgar. I wasn't such a righteous man, like how men should be. I am that way a little today. I fought all of these things and won, which is why I am who I am today.

How would you describe Salt City in your words?

Salt City is about a family. Every family has its own secrets that they do not like sharing outside of the family. There is no family that doesn't have family secrets. This is one family that has many secrets. If these secrets are leaked, it will distort the family. Every family that has family secrets and they will relate to this. I'm not only talking about the elite but they also have secrets. This series brilliantly explores why family secrets are not revealed and how there is a constant storm inside everyone because of that. This is a family that very much exists and you have to survive with them. This family stays alive keep the secrets a secret. Every common man will relate to it.

This series has a lot of actors and it is about a family that is dysfunctional. They want to talk but there's no one to listen so there is chaos. You would also be a part of these moments. What was shooting that like?

That depends on the competence of the actor, right? We didn't have stick or belt, with which Harish beats up his son. We had to be very careful because that wasn't included in production budget but despite that, the violence or intensity in the scenes isn't any less. It is an actor's competence to beat up someone without hurting them. You constantly scream and beat up the person. I learnt this sensitivity in NSD. It was a good scene.

Were you involved in the script writing process for Salt City? Anything about that you would like to reveal?

No, I didn't contribute to that. No matter the project I work on, I always keep myself below the script writer and director. I don't try to step on their toes, which is why people like me. I don't flaunt how talented I am. If they allow me to improvise, then I do that. That is fun for me. However, I need the director's permission for that.

Your upcoming projects?

I don't depend on cinema to work. I don't wait for work but create my own. I am in a band and am travelling with that. I have a play and a novel in the works too. I will start writing that soon. I just have one series named Anarkali but that's all. I keep rejecting scripts if I don't like it. I refuse scripts if I don't get the kick, even if Shah Rukh Khan features in the project. I don't look back or get bored. I meditate a lot and that's my life.

When should we expect your novel to release?

This year, I believe. There are three chapters in them - Gwalior, Delhi and Mumbai. Gwalior and Delhi are ready for publishing. I'm currently working on Mumbai.

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