Pratik Gandhi, who starred in Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story, makes his Bollywood debut in Bhavai

Foraying into Bollywood with Bhavai, Pratik Gandhi talks about the ‘unnecessary controversy’ surrounding the film and how it is tough for an actor to select his work.

A year back, filmmaker Hansal Mehta released his web series Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story, on the life of Harshad Mehta. The industry and audience woke up to a new talent- Pratik Gandhi.

The actor who had until then made ripples in theatre and Gujarati cinema, became a star and a household name. Ever since the web series premiered, fans have been eagerly waiting for his next project.

Pratik Gandhi is gearing up for first Hindi feature film as a lead actor – Bhavai, which was earlier titled Ravan Leela. Soon after the release of the trailer was released last month, it received flak for the title on social media as a section of the people felt that it hurt religious sentiments. The makers changed the title of the film to refrain from further controversies.

The actor has had a bumpy start with the Pratik Gandhi-starrer, which was earlier titled Ravan Leela. After a section of netizens felt the title “hurt religious sentiments”, the makers rechristened it Bhavai.

Pratik Gandhi says that by changing the title, the makers wanted to convey that there is nothing in the film that can harm anyone’s sentiments. Stating that the allegations of sentiments being hurt is baseless he says, “The film has nothing to do with Ram or Ravan. It is a story of two actors who are performing different characters and it is about their love story. We are not driving any agenda through the film. Ultimately it is a form of entertainment. Merely looking at the trailer, some people have created their own stories and it is based on their perception. Most of them are random Twitter and Instagram ID’s who do not even have a face. They don’t have a profile photo. I am not sure if they are real people.”

The actor was even personally targeted by a section of Netizens as they had started trending #arrestpratikgandhi. The actor makes his displeasure clear, stating, “It was heartbreaking because of the way the people are reacting. They have even involved my family in a few comments which isn’t a good thing. I feel these people who cannot respect somebody’s mother or sisters, I doubt that they respect Sita mata also.”

Raising a valid question, Gandhi says that it is difficult to choose a script in today’s scenario, “How do I understand what’s going to offend whom? We are such a diversified country that something or the other can offend anyone.”

Citing an example he adds, “My name is Pratik and tomorrow we may have a character whose name is Pratik and is being abused badly. All the Pratik’s in the country will come and say how can you use my name. As an actor, I don’t know what can offend anyone today. The only way out right now is whatever we get, we should put it out on a public platform and ask the audience whether we should do it or not. And if we do that, we will never be able to do anything. So it’s a double edged sword. As an artist, I cannot satisfy every person because that is practically impossible.”

Along with the success of Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story, the actor also got many career suggestions, “People had suggestions on how I should chart my career. But I listened to the one thing that has got me by the last 16 years — my gut feeling.”

Gandhi says that his criteria to select his work hasn’t changed. “For me, the story and character should offer the space to portray complex human emotions. This has been my criteria and it will remain the same. I am not a brand; I am an artist. I don’t think about positioning myself as a certain kind of actor who will do a specific genre of films. Initially, after the show was released, I felt a lot of pressure, but I am not letting any of it affect me.”

The actor has his hands full with as many as four projects in his kitty, “I have Atithi Bhooto Bhava with Hardik Gajjar (director of Bhavai). I finished shooting for a Disney+Hotstar show Six Suspects (Ajay Devgn productions), helmed by Tigmanshu Dhulia. It is a crime drama and I haven’t done something like this before. I have also finished shooting for a film called Dhedh Bhiga Zameen. It’s very close to the current social life that we are living in. I have started shooting for a project but can’t reveal any details of it now,” he concludes.