Actor Nakul Sahdev has been lauded for his antagonist character in the mystery-thriller web series Candy on Voot that stars Richa Chadha and Ronit Roy as leading characters. The budding actor started his acting career with Disney channel’s show Ishaan, while he got recognition with his role in the Ranveer Singh-Alia Bhatt starrer Gully Boy.
OTTplay caught up with Nakul to talk about his experience in the show, his thoughts on the censorship on the OTT platforms, his upcoming projects and more. Excerpts:
Now that you have been one of the leads in Candy, what was your key takeaway from the project?
It would be that all the characters are very human. Their pain and suffering are coming from a very real space. Different people will associate with different characters. It will be one of the USPs of the show. I think the audience will get engrossed in the show.
What was your experience being a part of a multi-starrer?
I had come back from Manali after spending so much time with them. I learnt a lot from them. They really took care of me. We would have soulful conversations. If I had a bad day, I knew I had a family back at the hotel to who I could go and open up. It was a great experience. When we were shooting for Candy, it was in the January cold. There were tough scenes to be shot. There were a lot of action sequences. When you're with the right people, though, you don't go through the pain but enjoy the journey. I got to experience that.
Ronit Roy also spoke about bonfire sessions. Did you sing or play musical instruments there?
No. Ronit sir learnt flute on the sets which was amazing. He would sing old Hindi songs for us. It was a close-knit atmosphere with no sense of hierarchy. Nobody came with baggage but only to create something. There was a lot of adrenaline rush as to getting something together.
What was your character preparation like? Did you read any books or saw any shows as an inspiration?
Yeah. There were a couple of things I stole from other characters. If you've seen Nightcrawler, I adapted how he blinks his eyes. I didn't want to go for the constant stare. The blinking is slightly eccentric. When you see him on screen, you'll understand that something is off about my character. In terms of body language, I like to work on outside-in rather than inside-out. Ashish sir gave me really good references for films. We collectively decided on how to go about the characters. Different characters have different relations because this is an ensemble. Thus, we would pick up something. For example, how would you react to a kid? I brought a personal element there because I am practically obsessed with kids. I had one of the best scenes with kids. When I was performing with her, it was just so pure. You could look into their eyes and know there's no way you can be dishonest to them. All of that. I just told Ashish sir one thing - that there would be things I would do once the camera rolls. I told him, "I want to surprise you and make you think that Nakul is literally slightly off. If you see that way, then the same thing will translate on screen and the audience will feel that way."
Does Candy deal with drugs among the youth and give a specific message regarding that?
Yes. The messaging is not very direct. It's out there - what the 'candy' does to the teenagers. Will they suffer from that, is your learning lesson. Nobody's going to come out and tell you to not do drugs. Here the makers have truly focused on showing the issues you deal with and how your relationship with your friends gets tampered with. It is a takeaway rather than messaging. It's more of a show-and-tell rather than the verbose morale.
You began your career with Disney and years later, were recognised for Gully Boy. While you played a simple guy throughout, this is the first time you play the criminal mastermind. How has the transition been till now? Take us through your journey.
Previously, before Gully Boy, my casting was always on the surface value, in the sense that what my face or body type has to offer. When you are new as an actor, the makers don't trust you with the capability as to what is your bandwidth in terms of performances. After Gully Boy and Pagllait, people gave me a chance, at least for the audition sake. That's how Candy happened. I saw Ashish sir's Undekhi. I love that series. As an actor, I had a bucket list. On the casting day, I got a call. It was really exciting. I started prepping up for the character and got selected. I met everyone on the team. The first pressure is that since you are doing something completely different, thus the learning you had so far isn't such that you reach on sets and be on auto-pilot mode. As I said, I had to work on the character and all of that. I was so involved. I remember at that time I was shooting for another web series called Fareb. I would take a morning flight, take the day off, rehearse with the team and then take the last flight or early morning flight to join the other team. Nobody actually forced me to do that. They trusted me but I genuinely wanted to be involved with the process. When you rehearse with the team and later actually shoot, there's a comfort level that develops. You get the nuances right too. It's about how to get the bond right. Luca and I were inseparable on sets too.
Who's your dream director?
I'm a big fan of David Fincher. I love Tarantino, Martin Scorsese. These three are on the top of my list because their canvas is huge and yet, they don't compromise on the arc of the characters. I want to explore that. Vaayu also explores that when he's all by himself. When you sit back alone at home, that's who you really are. I like to explore that because it takes courage to be naked in front of the audience. Ultimately there's a camera catching your raw emotions. That's what makes me more courageous and thus, these three directors.
Nowadays, OTT platforms have got a sudden burst of content. What does it mean for aspiring actors?
Do you remember previously there was a debate whether films or theatres are for actors? Now there was no space to showcase stories which people were dying to tell. Fortunately, OTT has given people the window to explore that. The audiences are also getting a taste of what really good content means. It's about exposure. Back when I was in film school, you had to read the subtitle to understand the film. Now, we're getting to explore a lot of interesting stories in Hindi and Hinglish for which there was no such medium. Television is more domestic while films need a lot of setups - studios. Getting a prominent part as a budding actor is really difficult in films. We would have to practically wait for a year or two. It was a wish kind of scenario. Now the years have changed to months. I'm learning something new in all the back-to-back projects I'm doing now. It's nothing like the bad guy gets the coolest girl. The formula thing is gone and I'm glad it doesn't exist on OTT. It is an amazing space.
What's your take on censorship on OTT?
One thing I learnt from Vaayu is that we don't need it at all. They can come up with a better solution. You can launch a platform for those, who are under 18. You need to give the audiences also some responsibility, right? If I'm not behaving properly in society, you cannot blame films for that behaviour. Putting parent control is a better solution rather than stopping interesting stories because that content will spoil the kids. Today, we are living in a time where the world wide web has opened up just everything. To sum it up, I don't think we need censorship at all.
Your upcoming projects?
I have already shot for Fareb which will drop on MX Player. There's a little bit of shooting left. I have finished another series called Girgit for AltBalaji. It is another twisted world which I enjoyed a lot shooting for. I'm also prepping up for two interesting things but unfortunately, I can't reveal about them at this point in time.