It was sometime in 2012 when actor Varun Mitra, then a professional with a Delhi-based export house—a job, he admits, he was good at—travelled to Mumbai on a two-week trip. The plan of action was simple: he wanted to take a short break, give a few auditions, and most importantly, gauge if the glitzy and glamorous world of Bollywood was something that might interest him. By the end of this expedition, he received a call (and a contract) from Mumbai-based Kwan Talent Management Agency. “I took that as a sign and gave a three months notice to my organisation,” says the model actor who made his acting debut in the film, Kaash (2015), directed by Ishaan Nair.
This journey from a working professional to an actor has been rather organic for the 32-year-old who asserts that the time he spent in Delhi prepared him to climb the stairway to success. “Delhi gave a ‘flavour’ to my personality. Delhi gave me the initial confidence that I needed to take a big step [moving to another city]. All the love stays with me [till] today,” he shares.
Materialising the dream
It was a matter of chance—and a sense of ennui—that made Mitra step into the realm of fitness, years before he stepped into showbiz. “I had started getting bored of my work. I would get done with work and go to the gym for a few hours every day. As clichéd as the story sounds, I got really fit. A friend then suggested that we click a few photos.” This portfolio shoot landed him a project with city-based fashion designer, Gaurav Gupta. After a few successful months as a model, he witnessed a dramatic turnaround in life. “Now, as I look back, all those years in Delhi were preparing me for what I am doing now,” he adds.
Though Mitra has been residing in Mumbai ever since he quit his job in 2012, his Delhi experiences have impacted his career and the roles he has done. “Delhi gives you a personality. Each aspect of my life—my colony, my school, my friends, my previous job—added some layers to my personality. As actors, when we work for a character, we dwell into our own experiences; Delhi was able to give me that.”
A rush of memories
Just the mention of Delhi takes Mitra back to his family house in RK Puram where he grew up. “My colony had a major impact on my childhood. During Diwali, we would hide crackers in letterboxes and run away. During Holi, we would climb on the roof and throw water balloons from there… those were precious moments,” he shares, adding that the colony’s park and the roof of his home were where he experienced many firsts.
“It [the locality] was (still is) a nice, wholesome place,” says Mitra. A shy student, he completed his schooling at The Shri Ram School, Moulsari. Mitra recalls his first tryst with acting in class 12—he was made to portray a small role in a school production based on William Shakespeare, Othello—as “a nightmare”.
Over the years, as any other ‘Dilliwala’, Mitra has pinpointed his favourite spots in Delhi—the chole kulche wala in South Campus where he would spend time with friends during his college days, the friend’s apartment whose window would give a clear view of the Qutab Minar, the late night trips to a street-side pav bhaji outlet in Dhaula Kuan—he mentions that some of his most cherished memories have been made in the city.
Still riding high after the success of legal-drama web series Guilty Minds, Mitra signs off, “In a nutshell, everything that happened in Delhi brought me to this point in my life—where I am enjoying being a part of a show like Guilty Minds. I will be forever grateful.”
Favourite place to hangout: The Qutab Institutional Area
Favourite street food: Keema paranthas
Favourite monument: Qutab Minar
Best takeaway from Delhi: It is the people, the memories I have made with them