Gaurav Dwivedi, an upcoming Bollywood method actor, is a graduate of the Film and Television Institute of India. His lead role in films “Rang Rasiya” and “Bombay Summer” were critically acclaimed and won a lot of awards. He also did a short film titled “Still Voices”. He has done features with Ketan Mehta and Phat Phish Pictures. He was an announcer in the All India Radio, Overseas Department, and Radio Jockey with 93.5 Red FM in Delhi. He has many years of theatre experience, and has worked with directors like M. K. Raina, Ranjeet Kapoor, Ram Gopal Bajaj, and N. K. Sharma to name a few.
Interviewed by Stephen M. Thompson, Ph.D.
Welcome to OpenBeast. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi! My name is Gaurav Dwivedi, I am 32 years old. I am a professionally trained Engineer who also is a trained professional actor. As a kid, I did ok at school but was into extracurricular activities and more so in my college. I started doing lot of MC’ing in college and acting in plays. After that I went to Australia to pursue higher studies. Even though I did my Masters, I was not satisfied and something in me kept telling me that this is not what I want to do with my life. I moved back to India and made a conscious decision that I am going to change my career path and start doing what I love the most. Really am thankful that I have such a wonderful family who never doubted my decision and supported me to the hilt. I later started working as a Radio Jockey. Here I immersed myself into reading good literature and doing theater. This is where I decided to go to Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune India, to get myself trained as an actor, because I wanted to learn the craft before I can practice it and no better place than to be at FTII – the melting pot of great talent and amazing people.
You are an engineering graduate, so what really made you to venture into the movie industry?
I always had a predilection towards films/theater and good books. What made me venture into the movie industry is I guess my unquenchable thirst to learn more about this medium of expression. Before making the final decision to join FTII I dappled around with other forms of medium like being a Radio Jockey and doing plays with renowned playwrights. That’s when I started questioning myself about what’s my next step as I didn’t want to stop and I didn’t feel content with what I was doing. The eagerness or the thirst or the want to get to another level made me decide to take admission in FTII. This is where I rediscovered myself and what I wanted to do with my life. By far getting into FTII has been the biggest life changing decision I have made and I am happy that I did make this decision.
Talk to us about your “Bombay Summer” experience.
This being my first Independent film had a great impact on me as a actor. I personally love doing independent films as it gives the actor more freedom, creative liberty and allows him/her to take more risks as far as expressing or developing the character. The director Joseph Mathew is from NY, he brought a new process into my life and emphasized more on improvisation, which I was taught in the institute. Majority of your scenes in the film were improvised within the constraints of the script. I played the character of Zakir, a drug peddler. This was the time I had never smoked a cigarette and I tried to smoke just to get a feel of how it’s like and tried to get into the psyche of the character, not to forget the book “The art of rolling”. Though I had read and been taught about method acting but this was my first hand on experience which was close to method acting, if I dare to say. I have always been in awe of Robert De Niro and his portrayal of Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. I wanted to be as close to the character of Zakir as I could. I worked on my body language, voice pattern and losing my smoking virginity.
I must say that my director, Joseph Mathew, gave me a lot of creative freedom which also acted as added responsibility. Mind you, Joseph comes from southern region of India and has been living in the US for the past so many years, he had very little exposure of Hindi language and on top of that my characters way of speaking which was not at all familiar with. I really want to thank him for showing the confidence and trust in me that I will pull it off the way he had envisioned it.
Last but not the least, working with a team of professionally trained actors/friends from different schools made my experience more enriching and gratifying.
Do you have any mentors or role models to mention?
Yes, having studied in FTII we were privileged enough to learn from the stalwarts of Indian Cinema. Many of them were FTII alumni. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention world cinema. It has had a great impact on me as a person and as an actor. I draw lot of inspiration from the cinema of the 60’s – 70’s. I can very well say that the new wave cinema around the world too has inspired me a lot with their innovative, radical, iconoclastic mode of storytelling.
What is your best gig or achievement thus far?
So far the amount of work that I have done it has been a very good learning experience and I believe that I have worked really hard of each and every one. For me to pick and choose from them would be unfair. I can say for sure that I put in my best in everything in do. As far achievements are concerned I have been lucky enough to bag my first nomination for “Best Actor” in an independent film festival held at Los Angeles – The Los Angeles Reel Film Festival. Also I was the only pick from my batch at FTII to act in the Ketan Mehta film “Rang Rasiya” (Colors of Passion).
Any upcoming projects or initiatives you would like to tell us?
Just finished shooting for two films. The first one is directed by renowned director Sudhir Mishra. It’s a commercial film produced by ViaCom. Second is an Independent film, mumble core genre an innovative and simple genre but very difficult in terms of execution, with spot improvisation and no makeup.
I will be shooting for a new historical series based on the book written by renowned Noble Laureate Shri Rabindra Nath Tagore called “Gora”. I play a negative lead character which enhances my abilities and conviction in me.
What are your leisure time activities?
I am a voracious reader and I am very eclectic about my reading. I mostly read philosophy, biographies, auto biographies and some time fiction. Being bi-lingual helped me in reading great literature in Hindi and English. If I am not reading then I love to spend time watching world cinema. I love to cook (if I get time).