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Exclusive! Vivek Madaan considers himself fortunate to bag big releases back to back after 24 years of acting career

The actor was last seen in Special Ops 1.5: The Himmat Story, starring Kay Kay Menon. He will be now seen playing Raveena Tandon's husband in Aranyak, which releases on Netflix on December 10

  • Akhila Damodaran

Last Updated: 03.15 PM, Dec 09, 2021

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Exclusive! Vivek Madaan considers himself fortunate to bag big releases back to back after 24 years of acting career
Vivek Madaan in Aranyak

Vivek Madaan is elated with his recent back to back big releases. He was last seen in Kay Kay Menon starrer Special Ops 1.5 and now, within a month's release of the drama, he will be seen in Aranyak. The crime thriller marks Raveena Tandon's comeback and her debut on OTT. Madaan plays the role of her husband and he says he feels fortunate to have received such great projects with big names in the industry after over two decades. 

The year 2022 seems exciting too for the Kasganj actor as he has bagged roles in films and OTT projects alongside Amitabh Bachchan, Shahid Kapoor, Ajay Devgn, Vijay Sethupati. In an exclusive interview with OTTplay, the actor shares about his upcoming release Aranyak, his journey in the industry, how he managed to sustain during the pandemic and more. Excerpts:

Your project Aranyak is nearing its release. How do you feel?

I am very excited. I play the role of a simple person and husband of Raveena Tandon. I am sure viewers will like it.  

Could you tell us about the show and your character?

It is a crime thriller with various supernatural elements in it. It is set in a fictitious town in Himachal Pradesh. Raveena plays the protagonist in the series. She plays a cop in the town where an untoward incident happens and another police investigator gets posted there. The two have different perspectives and use different investigation techniques. They are forced to come on common ground and solve the case. There is political conspiracy and mystery too in it. 

I play a man from a typical small town up north with some chauvinist traits. It is a prominent role of a husband of a police officer (Raveen Tandon). The two are not happy in their relationship and do not have a proper conversation. It was challenging to play the role as I had to also put on weight to look like a father to two kids. I put on 8 to 9 kgs in about two months. It was difficult to do so but I did not want to let go of such an incredible opportunity of playing a husband to Raveen Tandon on screen in her comeback. 

How was the experience working with Raveena Tandon?

Raveena is one of the top stars from back in the day and name any A-lister from the 90s, she has worked with them, be it Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan. She is one of the biggest names in our industry and has had a successful career. It was so amazing to see her get fit again and get back on screen as a cop, doing all action scenes. I felt like a newcomer. Even though there is tension in our on-screen relationship, it was completely opposite off the screen. She is warm, warm, easy-going and charming. It is difficult not to like her. Pura shoot haste khelte khatam kar diya humne. We shot in the cold in Himachal and had call time as early as 5 am. We used to work late at night too but everyone followed great discipline and professionalism on sets. 

You have worked on films and television mainly. So was working on OTT any different?

As an actor, the work ethics remain the same, irrespective of the medium but each project has its own challenges. I have worked on ads that tell a story in 20 to 40 seconds and we work on it for say 100 minutes. Films are like a marathon that goes on for a few days while TV is a military boot camp. If you have aced in television, other mediums come easy to you. When you shoot for a TV series, it teaches you to stretch your limit. It has long dialogues to memorise and is a crazy race. We shoot about 8 to 10 scenes in a day, repeating the same to be shot in different angles, but putting in the same energy and intensity. We work for 14 to 16 hours, even as late as 2 am sometimes, and then prepare and memories dialogues post-shoot for the next day. So it is like a tough military boot camp. So, OTT felt like a catwalk as we would shoot only 2 to 3 scenes a day. The workload is low and it felt like a luxury. 

You have done mostly crime and cop drama, be it Talaash, Special Ops, Kasganj and now, Aranyak. Was it a conscious decision? Is crime your favourite genre?

I like crime. I enjoy watching crime and legal dramas. But choosing these projects was not a conscious decision. The roles and characters were good. The team and projects were good. For example, in Talaash, I got to work with Aamir Khan. I was shocked when I was offered the role of a senior police officer, superior to Aamir Khan. I had to do. 

So you look at the cast first when you are choosing a project?

I look at the script and the way it is written. I follow my gut instinct. After working for so many years, I have developed intuition and can understand how well the project is by the way a scene is written and drafted when they hand it to me during auditions. That's the first thing I look at and then, I look for other factors like cast members and remuneration.

You have worked with many artists including some A-listers like Aamir in Talaash and now, with Raveena, Amitabh Bachchan and Ajay Devgn. Whom did you enjoy working with the most?

Everybody is special and I learned a lot from each of them. We have all seen performances of Kay Kay Menon and studied them. So when Neeraj Pandey offered me the role in Special Ops 1.5 for just 2 scenes, I was not in a position to refuse it. After 24 years of my career in acting, I am getting to work with A-listers now. The journey has not been easy. I used to give 1 to 4 auditions every day and after facing so many rejections, I landed up with an opportunity to do two scenes with Kay Kay Menon. I could observe him very closely as a person and actor. He is a very humble, mild-mannered, sweet and pleasant person unlike his ferocious character on screen. We would forget lines and fumble sometimes and he was very patient about it. He followed the directions of Neeraj very diligently. 

Amitabh sir is a legend. Jitna kahun utna kam hai. He is an encyclopedia by himself. He has such good command of Hindi and English. He is so punctual and dedicated and I was completely in awe of him. I had worked with him earlier on a film even though it was just a scene. Now, I am working with him again on Runway 34 (earlier called Mayday) but I am not sharing the screen with him. My scenes are mostly with Ajay Devgn who is a great multitasker. He is playing the lead in the movie and directing and producing it as well. He balanced all the roles so well and he is like this cool elder brother. He would pack up by 6 or 6.30 pm. 

Aamir sir is very dedicated and diligent. He is so devoted to the entire process of filmmaking, right from casting to music. He is very aware and technically sound. While we were shooting a scene for the climax of Talaash, I felt I heard some background sound while delivering dialogue and informed the team if they needed any retake. But Aamir was sure that the sound didn't get recorded and when we checked, he was right. His situational awareness is very sharp. 

How was the experience been shooting in the new normal?

After the government approved of the industry resuming its work, we were working around how to manage the shoot with all the protocols in place. If the shoot were in Mumbai, it could have been easy to manage. But it was more difficult to shoot as we had to travel to another state with the entire crew and equipment. But Siddharth Roy Kapur, despite all challenges, ensured that the team followed all protocols and the team was so supportive and coordinating. Working, wearing PPE kits the whole day, isn't easy. It was equally challenging to shoot due to the topography as well. The crew managed to carry the equipment in the mountain terrains. It was cold and everyone was wearing thermals and layers of clothes. We shot mostly in natural light and since it was winter, it was barely bright. But the shoot went all smooth.

How did the pandemic affect you personally, if at all?

I had a blessing in disguise. I was fortunate than many other actors who were facing difficulty during the pandemic. I sustained doing voice-over for ads, corporate films, documentaries and educational videos. I used to do it earlier during the breaks and had invested in equipment for voice recording. I learned to do sound processing as well since the studios were closed during the lockdown.  

Could you tell us about your upcoming projects?

I am working on Sunny, helmed by The Family Man creators Raj & DK. It stars Shahid Kapoor, Amol Palekar, Vijay Sethupati and Regina Cassandra. I have Runway 36 with Ajay Devgn, Amitabh Bachchan and Rakul Preet Singh. I am also working on an OTT project which is a hard-hitting critic of journalism today and how they manipulate TRPs. There is also a spy thriller film. 

You have been in the industry for over two decades. What kept you going?

My passion for work. An artist's life is difficult. But when you face rejections, it does affect your mental health. Bahut maayusi aur hatasha hoti hai. But you need to have thick skin. Bahut himmat aur saahas ke saath aage badte rehna chahiye. You do not know when and how you will get your next project. So you need to be patient and always be prepared. By being prepared, I do not mean just going to the gym and working on your physical appearance but you also need to constantly work on things like diction and voice. You should be open to learning.

I started at 19. It's been a long journey. There have been times I had no work at all. I sustained myself for three years doing voice-over for just Closeup ads. It is difficult to sustain with no money, budget or investment as you need to pay your rent and other bills. It takes a toll on your emotional health too but you need to remain dedicated and believe things will happen at right time.

How do you feel now with back to back releases and projects with big stars after 24 years?

2022 seems exciting. This is my 25th year as a working actor. It has been an enriching journey with some highs and mostly lows (laughs). I worked on many projects which got shelved and didn't see the light of the day. When people asked what next, I didn't have anything to say. I was resisting to do TV initially as many others, I prefered full-length feature films. But there were have been times when I used to find it difficult to get work on TV as well. But when I did shows like Parvarish and Beintehaa, I got many messages from other countries like Turkey and Pakistan too. It was an overwhelming response and felt good. 

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