Astraight-to-digital release looks hardly ideal for an actor with dreams of making it big in Bollywood. But then again, these are extraordinary circumstances, with the film business shaken to its core by a pandemic outbreak. Moaning over a missed trailer launch hardly seems appropriate during such a time. “It would be selfish to feel bad,” agrees newcomer Aditya Rawal, whose debut film Bamfaad, premieres on ZEE5 on April 10. “As artists, we are incredibly fortunate to offer something that people can engage with at this time.”
Aditya is the son of veteran actors and Swaroop Rawal. In Bamfaad, he’s paired opposite Shalini Pandey in her first Hindi appearance. The film — an ‘edgy’ love story set in Allahabad — is presented by Anurag Kashyap and directed by Ranjan Chandel. Aditya grew up in Mumbai and has lived in London and New York. He worked as an assistant director on OMG: Oh My God (2012) and co-wrote Panipat (2019). Ahead of Bamfaad’s release, he chats with us about his formative years, shooting in heartland India, the creative relationship between his father and Anurag Kashyap and more.
Were you always interested in cinema?
Actually, growing up, my prime focus was sport. I played cricket initially, and my coaches were Mohinder Amarnath and Chandrakant Pandit. After leaving school, I moved to football and played professionally. I was the captain of Mumbai University (MU) and went for the under-15 junior national camp. I played as a goalkeeper — it’s the most high-pressure position and this helped me become an actor. It taught me never to let my team down.
So how did movies happen?
I was always interested in theatre and storytelling. I started acting around the age of 20, studied at the London International School of Performing Arts and went to New York University for an MFA in Dramatic Writing. After graduating from NYU, I wrote a short film, The Mailbox, which was recently released in China on the streaming service, Tencent. Bollywood happened, once I returned and started auditioning seriously.
You play an Allahabad Muslim boy in the film. It’s quite removed from your milieu…
I am thankful to my football days for exposing me to different corners of India. I got to meet all kinds of people and became more socio-politically aware. I was also helped by my writer (Hanzalah Sahid), who’s from Allahabad and knows that world well. I also went on a recce with the team to immerse myself in the environment. The film isn’t political in nature. It’s more about the emotional journey of a boy and his coming of age. It’s about going after the thing you most want in life, which creates a highly dramatic conflict.
You and Shalini are making your Hindi debuts together. How was it collaborating with her?
Shalini is from Jabalpur (in Madhya Pradesh), so she had perfect command over the language. She’s obviously done a lot of great work down South. Despite being so experienced, she brought a certain freshness and spontaneity to the set. There was a sense of excitement and innocence to our chemistry throughout.
Also, tell us about working with talents like Vijay Varma and Jatin Sarna.
I have admired Vijay Varma’s work from before Gully Boy. He’s an amazing performer and a lovely co-star. Off screen, we bonded over our affection for the Coen Brothers and the early films of Guy Ritchie.
It was equally fabulous working with Jatin bhai. Being a theatre actor himself, he’s always looking to mine the most off a scene, using small improvisations or comic timing. For me, that just enlightening to watch.