Meet the investment banker making inroads into the film industry
Actor Mukul Chadda is ready with two new releases, Sherni and Sunflower.
Investment bankers have a thing for Bollywood. After actor Soha Ali Khan and Indian film industry’s favourite writer Chetan Bhagat, there is yet another investment banker making inroads into the industry—Mukul Chadda. Best known for playing the lead—Jagdeep Chaddha—in the Indian edition of international hit show The Office, Chadda was also seen in acclaimed web series such as Gurgaon, Ek Main aur Ekk Tu, and Bichoo Ka Khel, besides the short film Banana Bread, which he co-wrote with wife Rasika Dugal during the early stages of the lockdown. He will be next seen in Amit Masurkar’s Sherni and Vikas Bahl’s Sunflower.
“I recall my first day at Lehman Brothers when my boss looked at my resume and saw I had done a lot of theatre. He said, ‘Out here, this skill is going to come in handier than any finance course you’ve studied.’ Maybe conversely, all the drama I experienced on Wall Street might come in handy for an acting career,” quips Chadda when quizzed about his career change. The fact that his parents were extremely supportive and trusted his decision made the transition easier for him. Though he admits many members of his extended family were puzzled by his decision, and simply couldn’t understand it.
But while his extended family may have had doubts, it never entered Chadda’s mind. “I never doubted quitting investment banking or moving back to India from New York. I never questioned it, which was helpful, because any second-guessing might have made it harder to plough forward,” says the actor, who also performs and teaches improv theatre, when pandemics don’t prevent him from doing so. Elaborating more about his move from New York to Mumbai, he says, “It was easier than I thought. New York is one of the greatest cities in the world, and it felt like home for the six years I was there, what with its vibrancy and the many opportunities for people of all interests. But once I moved to Mumbai, I didn’t regret it for a moment. India is home and comfortable in ways one can’t always explain. So Mumbai with all its flaws still felt like home. It’s a hard transition—to move geographies and careers at once. Fortunately, not having doubts helped focus one’s attention on how best to adapt to the change,” says Chadda, who admits he has never been a life-planner.
Banana Bread, which saw both Chadda and Dugal come together, have left audiences asking for more. So do we get to see an encore? “Why not? Rasika is wonderful to work with. I’d love to do more work with her. Let’s hope more people cast us together,” says Chadda, adding, “We act like sounding boards for one another. I guess it is easier to understand each other’s issues, since we both are in the same field and sometimes know exactly what the other person is going through.”
All set for two releases soon—Sherni and Sunflower—the actor says that the characters he plays in both are completely different from one another. Sherni, headlined by Vidya Balan, explores the man-animal conflict and revolves around the real-life incident of the killing of Tigress Avni, also known as T1, in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district. The web series Sunflower, on the other hand, is a crime-comedy set in a typically middle-class housing society in Mumbai. Filled with quirky characters, the situational comedy will also have Sunil Grover, recently seen in Tandav. Chadda’s seems all set for a good year.
A Closer look
A project you would love to have done.
Acting or scriptwriting?
For now, acting
A book you would love to adapt to TV/film?
A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammad Hanif
Your favourite Rasika Dugal film?