Actor Vikram Pratap is a dialect coach who works with renowned actors to teach them Bundelkhandi or Malwi dialects for their roles. Fate introduced him to acting and made him debut with a film in which he had his first scene with none other than Alia Bhatt. Vikram played the chemist shop owner in Darlings last year and is now back with Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo. Ever since Sanjay Mishra called him to Mumbai from Bhind, Vikram is doing his bit in films, as an actor or as a coach. (Also Read | Neetu Kapoor match steps with Padmini Kolhapure to Naatu Naatu)
In an interview with Hindustan Times, Vikram talked about opting for method acting in Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo and also shared the process followed by actors like Neetu Kapoor, Sanjay Mishra or Pankaj Tripathi as they get into their respective characters. Excerpts:
How did you feel to have your first scene with Alia Bhatt in your debut film?
It was also memorable because I had suffered from Covid-19, had left Mumbai after paying rent for a few months and exhausting my savings during the pandemic. I had auditioned long before Covid and wasn’t sure if I would ever return. Someone else was about to do the role but he had a date issue. One day I was wondering on my terrace in Indore if I will ever go back and within 24 hours I was sipping tea with Alia Bhatt during the reading for Darlings. Alia doesn’t carry her stardom with her.
You play part of Dimple Kapadia and Radhika Madan’s rival gang in Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo. Tell us more about your role.
All my scenes are with Deepak Dobriyal, I play his brother and there is more going on among ourselves. It was both mentally and physically exhausting for me. I used to try to not eat on the day of shoot and not sit in the sun when we were shooting in winters. I used to walk with a limp and not talk to anyone. My friend who played mute didn’t talk even behind the camera. Before this, I didn’t believe in method acting.
Among all the projects I have done, working with Homi Adajania was the best. He also allows the actor to do his own thing. He observes you and whispers in your ear when he is thinking differently. He gives space and creative liberty. His process is very easy, no one shouts or scolds on his set. The way he treated senior actors like Dimple Kapadia and Naseeruddin Shah, he treated us the same way, even those who were there only for one scene.
I teach Bundelkhandi from Chambal and Malwi, which is spoken around Indore. Some actors only want to know the exact lines. With Sanjay sir, I taught him the language but he taught me the process. I had not even shifted to Mumbai when I worked with him for Kadvi Hawa. I used to translate the dialogues and tell him to read it. He asked me to talk to him in that language so that he could pick words from it which could be used to improvise the lines.
After Darlings, I did dialect coaching with Pankaj Tripathi for Oh My God 2. He is very intelligent and quick learner, he wants to know more about the area, just like Sanjay Mishra. He knows that area, we used to generally talk in that language.
Then I did dialect coaching in Malwi for Neetu Kapoor and Sunny Kaushal for Letters to Mr Khanna. I made voice notes and videos for Neetu ma’am. Her Hindi is very Pali Hill, and her English is very sharp. I told her, ‘Don’t blame me later, I will spoil your Hindi and English a bit.’ They give me the respect a teacher deserves.
How did you become an actor?
I am from Bhind in Madhya Pradesh where no one has any idea about being an actor. I moved to Indore for studies. My sister’s tuition teacher saw me watching movies like Maqbool etc and told me about theatres and NSD. He took me to Indore’s renowned theatre festival Sutradhaar where I was given a small role in a play. Four days before the final performance, the lead actor left the play over a fight with the director. They were looking for someone who could learn the lines within 3 days. I learned the lines, got the role and even won the Best Actor award. I became serious about acting that day. I had never been paid for acting like this – I got 5000 rs cash prize on stage. I realised it gave me respect and money. Eventually, Sanjay Mishra called me to Mumbai and I even stayed at his place.
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