Vikrant Massey: I have been gaslighted at the workplace
In a conversation, Gaslight’s Vikrant Massey talks about doing characters that relate to the common man and why he initially thought Sara Ali Khan wouldn’t be a receptive actor
Last year, ‘Gaslighting’ was chosen as Merriam-Webster’s word of the year. The said dictionary defines it as “psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem…” It is an appropriate title for a psychological thriller, in which a girl starts questioning her own sanity in the quest of finding her father, a royal patriarch.
Led by Sara Ali Khan, Gaslight, which will premiere on Disney+ Hotstar on March 31, also stars Chitrangda Singh and Vikrant Massey. Vikrant plays Kapil, the trusted aide of the missing ‘Rajaji’. In an interview, Vikrant, who has become the go-to actor for everything thriller on OTT, talks about his acting journey, playing characters that the common man relates to and why he initially thought Sara Ali Khan won’t be a receptive actor.
You recently spoke about professional gaslighting in filmmaking. What does that term mean to you?
Not just in the world of filmmaking, but also in corporate work environments there is professional gaslighting. It basically happens when a person at the workplace tries to make you feel that you are not good enough.
Is this coming from a personal experience?
Sort of, yes. Sometimes, if a film doesn’t land, the blame is deflected on to you. At the start of my career, directors have snapped at me and said, ‘You are unable to do this scene, I am going to change it.’ One time we were shooting in almost 45 degrees, and a lot of cast and crew members, including me, were fainting. But then, I was made to feel that casting me was a mistake. The makers said their money got wasted and I was not good enough.
Before joining Gaslight, you had a different impression of Sara Ali Khan. You had said that you didn’t think she would be a ‘receptive’ actor. What made you think that?
It was a preconceived notion and I apologised to Sara for it. There is so much noise around certain things that it is easy to get influenced by other people’s opinions. I am glad to have been proved wrong.
You have been doing a lot of thrillers lately. Haseen Dillruba, Love Hostel, Forensic, and now, Gaslight Are you feeling at home with the genre?
Actually, quite the contrary. Doing thrillers doesn’t come easy for me. Now, after doing so many of them, I have become more aware of things, more mindful. I do not want to approach a character like I have done before. As an actor, I don’t want to be repetitive.
Is that the reason you refrain from watching films to get inspired for a character?
Yes, the audio-visual medium influences me a lot so I try to avoid it. Sometimes directors insist that I should watch a certain film or they show me a scene and they want to recreate it. These things restrain you. I mostly try to avoid it but have to watch when it is imperative. Characters are an amalgamation of your life, what you have read and what you have seen. Sometimes you create something new as per the requirement of the script. If you see a character on screen and try to emulate it, your imagination gets limited.
You always play the common man’s hero. Be it A Death In The Gunj (2015) or Chhapaak (2017), your characters are more relatable than aspirational. You don’t seem like you are looking out to be a star. Did you always want to take this direction in your career?
Even after getting so many films and opportunities, I still try to live like a common man, staying true to my roots. I believe that some of the most spectacular things in life are ordinary. Now, I have the privilege and a position from where I can voice the opinions and portray the life of the commoner. One thing I know for sure is that I want to be the common man’s hero. I want to be representing the voice of the voiceless. This is one way of giving back to the people who have given me the life I have.