Bhuvan Arora also praised co-star Shahid Kapoor, stating, "He's a great co-actor to work with, and I have found an elder brother for life."
Last Updated: 07.11 AM, Feb 27, 2023
Regardless of range, there comes a point in an actor's career when they are simply put in a box. "Hero ka dost" is one of the most often seen stereotypical characters on screen. Over the years, we have seen the biggest stars play this character, and at times, they just come into play as supporting roles in movies. However, times have changed, and "hero ka dost" is not just a catalyst but also a parallel lead. Now, an actor who has shone with his incredible performance in Farzi is Bhuvan Arora. With stalwarts like Shahid Kapoor, Vijay Sethupathi, and Kay Kay Menon, people can't stop raving about the work he has done in the Raj and DK series.
The actor plays the role of Firoz in the series, who is the best friend of Shahid Kapoor's character and without whom the counterfeiting of notes is incomplete. During an exclusive interaction with OTTplay, Bhuvan spoke at length about saying yes to the role after giving it some thought, calling Shahid Kapoor an elder brother for life. The actor also spoke about how he improvised a couple of scenes in Farzi, which are among the series' most memorable sequences.
Edited excerpts follow.
Firoz has stood out as one of the best characters seen on OTT. Your fan base's population is increasing as more people watch the show. How are you soaking up all the reactions coming your way?
I'm just going with it; I don't know how else to go about it. There is only one way; I mean, what can you do? and love is coming your way. You can just accept it with open arms. I'm just soaking up all the love, and I'm trying to reply to as many people as possible because I always feel it's best to connect with fans on a personal level. But it gets practically impossible so I'm just trying my best and it's a different feeling altogether first time for me for sure.
People are watching at their convenience; it's one hour per episode. So I know that it's going to take about 10 days for everybody to binge it and finish it. People watch at their own pace, and it's like a weekday, and people are still pouring in messages.
Having an ensemble cast with Shahid Kapoor and Vijay Sethupathi as the actors to watch out for, and then people end up discussing your character Did you anticipate something like this before the show dropped?
The internal team had already said a lot of great things about me, but I always feel that people who are related to or associated with the series kind of know it. They always used to tell me, and we had been shooting when they saw me perform in the first four or five days, and they said, "You're going to be a star," and I never believed them. I would always feel like they were saying it to motivate and encourage me. But I never believed it until it actually happened and people started to show so much love. The other day also, Raj sent me this WhatsApp message, and on it said, "Superstar." So it's after the release of the show, so it's unbelievable. I knew that it was going to take off; I kept saying the rocket was going to fly, but I didn't know it was going to go this high.
During the trailer launch, Shahid Kapoor assured people that you would leave an impressive mark. How do you look back on the camaraderie you both shared onscreen, and how did it translate from onscreen?
I think it happened the other way around; translated from off-screen to on-screen, he's like an elder brother figure to me. I keep pestering him for every little thing that happens, especially professionally. I keep calling him to ask if I should do this or that. On the first day of shooting, I told him, "Consider me as Ishaan, think of me as your younger brother. Please, whenever I'm going wrong, direct me in the right way." He always did that; he watched out for me, he really cared for me, and we used to work out together. We were living in the same hotel and used to chill together in the evenings, and that kind of helped us.
He is somebody who thinks of the project in its totality, not very self-centred like a lot of other actors are without taking names in the industry. So he's not like that at all. He would discuss and ask for opinions and suggestions; that kind of helped me get more comfortable with the whole thing. I think he's a great co-actor to work with, and I have found an elder brother for life.
I hope there's a continuation of that camaraderie in the second season.
There is, I hope so. It's being written; that's what I know. I also know as much as you do, but I genuinely know that it's doing great numbers right now. It's trending at No. 1 all over the world. A lot of love is coming from the entire world. So Prime Video is also really happy. We are also gearing up for the second season, hopefully.
I recently read that you nearly missed the character and were not ready to audition for it. That would have been a regrettable decision, right?
No, no, it's not that I wasn't ready. So I basically am very choosy with the kinds of roles that I do. So that's also a shortcoming that I have, or it's my choice as an actor. So I have to be sure of what I'm taking. I'd rather not work than do something that doesn't make me happy. So I am very choosy. Actually, when I got a call, the audition script that they sent by Mukesh Chhabra's assistant was very short. I've been testing for roles for, like, nine years now. So when I read a script, I genuinely have an idea what kind of role this is. When I saw the script, I told him the part was very small and I was not targeting anything aside from the primary roles, so I don't think I'm too keen on this. He said, "It's a very important role, and you trust me on it. Why will I even approach you for something that's not meaty enough?" He also stated that Mukesh Sir was eager for me to audition for the role. So I was randomly sitting with my friend, and he asked me to test it. So I sent it, and later on, when I met Raj and DK, that is when they told me what the gravity of the part was, and I was obviously on top of the world at that point.
Usually, people stereotype "hero ka dost," and that's where the tag stays. But with your character as the backbone, you also became a shining factor. Was the role written exactly the way you portrayed it, or did you also bring in some nuances that shone through?
It has to go hand in hand. No actor can shine without great writing. If there's great writing and there's not even a good performer on board, then great writing is wasted. There was definitely really great writing from Sita Menon and Suman Kumar; nobody can take away from what they've done for the show. And that's the backbone; we all believe that script is the show's backbone. So it was definitely written in a certain way.
But talking about the friend part, I myself have been dragged into that for a very long time. I have done a couple of films in the past that kind of did well in terms of numbers, and people like my work, and I was always playing that quintessential hero's friend. So I was myself typecast in that for a very, very long time, and I was also a little sceptical when we were talking about the role of auditioning because I wanted to get out of that loop. This was also one of the reasons I asked if it wasn't the typical "hero ka dost" role and everything. So when I went to meet Raj and DK on the very first day, they made it clear to me that it's a two-man job. Obviously, Shahid Sir is a bigger star, and he's obviously much more established than I am. So there is a certain edge that Sunny has, and we probably see the story from his point of view. But it's always like a two-shot that's happening. It's as if they're both in it together, and the counterfeiting can't take place without either of them. So that was made clear to me on the very first day, and it also has to be the director; they kind of made it show that they don't look like classic Bollywood friends, like my character shouldn't just be there to pat his back. Rest whatever I learned to try to do it and I'm glad it paid off.
How did you bring that finesse to your dialogue delivery? It didn't look caricaturish and was actually music to one's ears.
That was the hardest and trickiest part for me. From what we've seen in Mumbai, there's a typical impression about the people living here. We didn't want to get into that zone. Although we were raised on the streets, Amol Palekar's character, who is a very well-read and polished man, raised a part of us. But your initial upbringing never goes away. So to find that balance, where they are also raised by a polished man, shows they have been slightly groomed but not totally. Sunny is more polished than Firoz, because he always preferred being around printers and the workers of the press, and Sunny chose to be an artist. So that also defined the characters, and it's quite tough. So for that Mumbai lingo, we took precise decisions, we were not going to get stuff with all that typical cliched stuff that we have already seen. And that is not how many people in Mumbai speak on the street; nobody really speaks like that. So we made sure that the lingo was authentic; it had to go; it had to be a masking; it had to go pan-India; and it also didn't have to be in that cliched zone, because we wanted to avoid that as much as possible.
So we wanted to refrain from that, and I used to obviously hang around people and probably go to a chai tapri. I've done that for years and years; I wouldn't say I particularly did it for Farzi. It is the job of an actor to observe people; whatever is happening around them, I think it's fuel for their car. Whenever I'm out, I love hanging around in public places and observing people. I still remember that I would just go and sit at stations and just see people and what was happening. This was also a part of our exercises when I was studying at FTII: to go out and observe people because that's where the real juice comes from. That's where life comes from, and it's very important for us to experience it.
Which has been the most exciting sequence for you to shoot in the series?
I cut my hand while shooting for that traffic scene in the final episode. So with that knife, I opened those bundles of notes. So the first take is in motion because the cars are always moving. So we're doing that scene; it was a very hard thing to shoot. This is one of my favourite scenes from the show, and I had the knife, which cut my hand, and the blood started to drip, but the first take was okay. Literally, the blood was spilled over the notes, and I remember it being a very difficult scene to shoot. But then it came out well. One of my favourite scenes from the show is the "Chai" scene, because an actor, as you know, frequently has dialogue, and they do justice to a dialogue with a lot going on. But I feel the real acting actually comes up when you don't have any lines; that is when an actor is put to the test. So that particular scene has the least number of lines, and it's just the mannerisms and the gestures of the character that will probably make you feel like laughing or make you feel connected. So that particular scene, which was an improvisation, was never in the script in the first place. So Raj came up to me and asked, "Why don't you have chai in the scene?" So I said, "Yeah, sure, why not? But wouldn't it be off since they are asking for a loan? Is he that comfortable in that kind of space?" So, yes, the usual method questions from actors. (laughs). He then asked them to serve tea, so this is how it just happened. The rest of the scene—how to go about it, the whole malai taking out—was all improvised.
I even really liked the scene where the whole discussion is done and you wait for your peg of whiskey...
So it's a payoff scene in terms of cinema, which is also improvised again.
After having been a part of this industry for more than a decade, Farzi seems to be the project that shines a light on you as an actor. In what ways, in your opinion, has this web series boosted your career? Are you busier than before already?
I'm getting a lot of congratulatory messages, wanting to work with me. I'm already in the middle of shooting a couple of things here. So I have to finish those first and then get on to newer things. People are definitely reaching out, and it's a great feeling. It's a progression that an actor strives for.