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Paresh Rawal’s son Aditya: ‘I would love to do comedy and slice-of-life movies’ | Exclusive

Aditya Rawal’s new play, Siachen, is set to premiere at Prithvi Theatre, while he is also gearing up for his upcoming thriller drama show on Amazon Prime Video

Paresh Rawal’s son Aditya: ‘I would love to do comedy and slice-of-life movies’ | Exclusive

Aditya Rawal; (image credit: Instagram/@aditya___rawal)

  • Reema Gowalla

Last Updated: 05.24 AM, Jun 10, 2023


Earlier this year, his performance in Hansal Mehta’s biographical action thriller film Faraaz (streaming on Netflix) was widely spoken about. Son of acclaimed actors - Paresh Rawal and Swaroop Sampat - Aditya Rawal is more than just a newbie in the industry. Apart from movies, he has also dabbled in web series and has written screenplay for a few projects. What’s making news currently, however, is his new play Siachen, which is premiering at Mumbai’s Prithvi Theatre on June 15. The play is written by Aditya and helmed by noted actor-director Makarand Deshpande, while it also sees Aditya collaborating with his Faraaz co-star Zahan Kapoor once again.

In an exclusive conversation with OTTplay, Aditya speaks about his upcoming show on Amazon Prime Video, his camaraderie with Zahan, the making of Siachen, what he has learnt from his parents and more. Excerpts:        

Q. After Faraaz, you are collaborating with Zahan once again, this time on the stage. Tell us about the camaraderie…

A. For us, it’s coming together again! We met during the workshops and readings of Faraaz, for which we both are incredibly grateful to Hansal sir. Then, the Covid-19 pandemic struck and suddenly we were in limbo. It was during the lockdowns that we decided that, look, we also want to create other stuff, and we both were interested in theatre. Through those readings and meetings, we also realised that we have a similar outlook. There’s also sort of a blue collar element to the job we do. Despite it being filmmaking or theatre-making, it is work. And we figured that we really enjoy the process. Our method of collaboration was also quite similar. We find it very easy to put our ego in the backseat and focus on creating the best work possible. And, after Faraaz, Zahan has been a dear friend. But where we really connected on was our outlook and attitude toward work, and what we want to do in the future - the kind of things that we want to do for ourselves, the desire to tell our own story.

In fact, the play Siachen wouldn’t be where it is and how it is if it wasn’t for Zahan. He has been instrumental in every step of the way - right from the photographs we took for the poster to helping in getting people on board. It’s just been a great, fun journey so far. And what we both realised is that we lucked out with Faraaz. It was really well-appreciated. The film’s done good things for us career-wise also. But not every film or play that you will be a part of will be a success. Just like nobody has a 100% success rate, where you can ensure that it’s a productive, enjoyable time is in the process of creation and collaboration. And the fact that we’re able to do that with just some wonderful people is really the greatest benefit of the play.

Aditya with Makarand Deshpande and Zahan Kapoor
Aditya with Makarand Deshpande and Zahan Kapoor

Q. The Siachen Glacier is an unlikely inspiration for a theatrical production. What fascinated you to write a play that centres on that terrain?

A. To begin with, the place itself is astounding and incredibly fascinating, because it’s essentially an uninhabitable land that is now the highest and coldest battlefield on earth. Until the mid-1980s, nobody was interested in it. Nobody really even thought about it or considered it while drawing their borders. Then came the conflict and you realised that there is mistrust and fear. So both sides kind of realised that the other is going for the glacier. India, in particular, found out that Pakistan was allowing mountaineering missions up there, and suddenly they both raced to get the glacier. And now, it’s a battlefield. That is just one part of it. What’s even more interesting is that even though we spend a lot of money to keep our presence intact there, every year many lives are lost on the glacier. Not a single bullet has been shot in the last 20 years, but the extreme climate makes it difficult for soldiers to carry on. I found that contradiction very fascinating. 

When I started writing the play, I had a bit of a simple outlook. But the deeper I dived into it, I found that the truth is more complicated than an anti-war play. That’s when I started talking to stakeholders in the region and even visited the place. I realised that both sides do want to demilitarise the glacier. Nobody’s benefitting from keeping their soldiers up there at such a great cost. But such is the mistrust and fear between human beings that we have no choice but to do that. And that, to me, was a tragedy of epic proportions, because it’s a tragedy of the human condition. We do realise that the Siachen Conflict is not unlike other conflicts in the world. There was a great specificity to the place, but also there was a sense of universality to it. This is when I started thinking about the characters that would populate this story, the predicament they find themselves in, how they try to climb out of it. 


Q. Your performance in Faraaz has been widely appreciated. When do we get to see you back on screen?

A. Very soon, actually. There’s an Amazon Prime Video show that is due to come out. I can’t speak about it until they officially announce it, but I’m extremely excited about the show. It’s a drama thriller, but there are elements of humour too. I had great fun playing the character and I cannot wait for the world to see it.

Q. Now that you have dabbled in both the digital space and the big screen, what’s your take on OTT?

A. OTT has really allowed for different kinds of stories to be told, which is just a great privilege for us young artistes to be a part of. There’s just a wider range of narratives you’re able to reach, because what happens is when you make a film for the theatre, more often than not you want to be able to spread that net wide and bring in as many people as possible. What happens with the OTT stories is the same. Digital platforms can hold multiple kinds of stories, multiple shows, multiple films. This creates more unique opportunities for us that might not have otherwise existed. So in that sense, I think it’s great. 

As far as the economics of the model are concerned, I’m not particularly qualified to just answer a general question about what I think about that, but I will say that one has to be careful looking into the future where there is such a thing as content inflation. If there is a lot of stuff coming out, and it’s just a slew of material being dumped onto platforms, that becomes a bit disheartening, because it’s a miracle for a story to be made into a film anyway to begin with. And being a screenwriter as well, I know that better than most. But there still is the life of a film or a show and how it is brought to the people that are going to view it is important. So, in this slew of material, one has to also treat them with care and due reverence. But that is, perhaps, also wishful thinking. One doesn’t know how the future will shape up. For all you know, in five to 10 years, you’ll have fresh movies being created by AI at the press of a button, in which case the world would have changed, let alone the economics of movie-making. And that’s a question that one can speculate about for hours on end.

Q. Do you aspire to play a particular character on screen or be part of a particular story in the future?

A. I want to do all kinds of things, to be honest. I just want to be a part of a whole range of stories. That’s also one of the reasons Zahan and I wanted to stay in touch with the stage and keep doing our thing on the stage, because theatre allows us to tell stories that we cannot on screen, Siachen being one of them. You can’t make a 70-crore film on the story of my play, because it’s just not economically viable. The stage allows you to jump into different stories as well. But as far as genres go, I have done a fair amount of thrillers and some action stuff which, I’m told, is quite not the usual way to go for young actors. So I’m really glad to have got these opportunities, where directors and makers feel that I can pull off those things. 

That said, what I’d love to try is comedy and slice-of-life stuff. Perhaps, a romance or two. Things that allow me to play a character that is closer to who I am in real life. So far, I’ve played a ruffian from Allahabad, a warrior tribesman and a terrorist from Bangladesh, among others. The character I play in the Amazon Prime Video show is also very different from who I am. That’s great and I love doing it. But once in a while, it’s nice to also play a version of yourself.

Q. What is it that inspires you the most about your parents?

A. It’s hard to put that in one answer, because everything that I am today is influenced by who my parents are and my relationship with them. But as far as the inspiration from them for my work is concerned, the passion and joy that my mother puts in her work at her age is just a joy to behold. My father may be the more famous one, but the more important work, and that even my father would admit, has been done by my mother, in the field of education. She’s just been incredible. And she’s not even the one who puts her own horn in that. She just puts her head down and goes on working. Everything that she has earned in the field of education - the praise and respect - has been purely because of her work and the passion she puts into it, and the love with which she trains not only students, but the teachers as well. With time, she has become more and more ingrained in the system, which I think is just incredibly admirable.

Aditya with Paresh Rawal, Swaroop Sampat and Aniruddh Rawal
Aditya with Paresh Rawal, Swaroop Sampat and Aniruddh Rawal

As far as my father is concerned, the longevity that he’s enjoyed, the hard work that is constantly put in, so much so that it’s just second nature to him, is an inspiration. I think what one should do is just look at how they work right and try to emulate that. Because he’s clearly done a lot of things right, as he’s been relevant in this business. He’s been relevant for nearly 35-40 years, which is just amazing. 

Q. What’s the latest you streamed on OTT?

A. I just finished Scoop [Hansal Mehta-directed crime drama streaming television series on Netflix - starring Karishma Tanna, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Prosenjit Chatterjee, Harman Baweja, Tannishtha Chatterjee and Deven Bhojani]. I think at this point, you are not even surprised at Hansal making something amazing. 

I’m also really happy because my brother Aniruddh Rawal is also part of the series. To see the success of Scoop, the appreciation it’s getting, not just the show itself, but my brother’s performance as well has just been very heartening.