He has got the eyeballs after his portrayal of the stock market scamster Harshad Mehta in an OTT series. A theatre artiste from Gujarat, Pratik Gandhi speaks to News18 on what this long recognition and accolades means to him and how he had to change himself for the role
Pallavi: Many people ended up feeling sorry for the character HarashaD Mehta in the series. Was this the purpose ?
Pratik: No our purpose was to highlight the human side of it. We all are going through human dilemma all the time. We were not trying to justify him nor trying to make any statement. In fact when we were working on this character, we discussed all the angles. We decided to present the character as it is so that it is open for the audience as it is. Some say we are confused. Whether we should fell bad for him or whether whatever happened to him was right. It is this confusion which speaks about the system. We have seen that even with terrorists there are some peole who feel who think what he did was wrong but then there are some who feel that the humanity within us makes us want to cry against violence.
Pallavi: I know you have a lot of theatre experience but can you tell me how long you prepared and how was the portrayal done?
Pratik: The director Hansal Mehta had seen a lot of my plays. And when I auditioned for it, he told I was perfect for it. It was a huge project and someone like me was chosen. We decided to not caricaturise him nor mimic him. Harshad Mehta was not even close to what I am like. I had to gain a lot of weight. And change my body frame and there was a moustache. Internalisation of the character was very important
Pallavi: So how did you do that? Did you read up on him? Did you watch him?
Pratik: I had watched a lot of his video interviews which are available on the internet, one of them being with Pritish Nandy. A lot of reference material was made available and then the script itself was 550 pages. I also met people who had worked with him or were close to him. Met people who were in the BSE ring with him. Just to get an idea of what kind of person or personality he had. I tried to recreate those traits. Like the one sided smile he had. The smile shows a lot of self confidence and arrogance also. I was told that whetever you do make it a part of your body. Don’t let it look fake.
Pallavi: Towards the end I saw you put on a lot of weight to make the transiton from young to older Harshad Mehta ?
Pratik: Oh yes. I had put on 18 kg on my belly. They wanted more but I clould achieve only this much. I was 88 to 90 kg during the shooitng. It changed my breathing pattern and also the pauses I took. My screen posture changed.
Pallavi: Did anyone from his family get in touch with you? Or did you? Like his brother Ashwin or wife? Did you reach out to them?
Pratik: I didn’t. But there were lots of people or friends who did meet me. I learnt a lot of sign labgauge which I picked up from them.
Pallavi: Now what? Would you want to join big screen?
Pratik: I am open for all platofrims. I have been doing this for years and I have been doing theatre. Only thing is it has taken 15 years for me to each here. Thing is face has to sell and then only the film works. This is the ecosystem. But the OTT platform is the way now.
Pallavi: The famour line risk hai to ishq hai…
Pratik: Yes, I told this to the director and makers that you have taken this line too seriously and signed me up for this project (laughs).