One of the favourite screen actors of Indian television, Shashank Vyas, is the boy-next-door in real life who is living a simple life in the glamour hub – Mumbai - even after achieving stardom. He puts his heart before his head and holds job satisfaction over money. In a chat, Resham Sengar finds out what brought this Ujjain boy to Mumbai, his lead role in ‘Balika Vadhu’, his terms with co-actors, good friend Pratyusha, love life and more.
How did you land up the role of Jagya in ‘Balika Vadhu’ in your kitty?
I was initially preparing for my MBA exams in Ujjain but things were not working out as I wanted them to. It was then that I decided to give acting a shot and came to Mumbai in January 2009. I joined Anupam Kher’s acting institute to learn the art. After completing the acting course, I struggled to get a good role. For a year to a year-and-half, I gave 70-80 acting auditions. During one of the auditions, I came across the opportunity to play the lead part in ‘Balika Vadhu’. It was after several 7 screen tests, look tests and several acting workshops I got the confirmation that I would be playing the lead role in the serial.
How did your family react to your acting plans?
My mother was little upset about it. She was like – “You don’t know anyone in Mumbai then where are you going to stay and what would you eat? It is such a fast city. How will you manage things there?” But my father was supportive because, at the end of the day, he did not want me to say that they did not give me any chance to fulfil my dreams.
How has acting on TV come along for you?
I am not here for anything else but to act. I read somewhere that when you develop your hobby into profession, it gives you immense pleasure. I love to act. Things have come along well for me in this profession.
What did you do when you got your first pay cheque?
I am not a spendthrift. I save my money. For me saving is earning. Since acting is an unpredictable profession, I like saving for a safer future. I don’t buy things that I don’t need.
Who are you friends in the industry?
I know some people in the industry really well but my good friends are my room mates from my struggling days. I don’t socialise much. But that does not mean I am an introvert. It is just that I am a very private person.
How is your normal working day? What do you do on your day offs?
I do get leaves but they are not planned. I report to work around 8:30/9:00am and the work goes on for the next 12-13 hours.
How is the atmosphere on the sets of ‘Balika Vadhu’?
From what I have heard people saying, it is the most disciplined set on the Indian television right now. We have fun there but kaam ke time kaam hi hota hai and that shows on-screen. There is a monitor in every class to ensure proper disciple and on our sets the monitor is our director because he is the first man who has been there since day one of the show as a director. Also, I meet with my co-actors like Smitha ji and others very cordially and we have our meals together but it is not that we are always in touch.
How are you finding working with the new Anandi – Toral Rasputra?
She is nice. Replacing Pratyusha was a big deal and I think that people should give Toral some time to prove herself. I am sure people will accept her with time.
How was your equation with Pratyusha Bannerjee, the previous Anandi?
I talk to her daily even now. We started working on the show as newcomers. We even discuss personal things with each other. Overall, we share a great bond. She is my very good friend.
What do you normally do on your day off?
I hang out with my friends. Usually, I don’t call them home because I want to go out for a change. Sometimes, I watch old, classic films. My father has also shifted to live with me. So we spend some time together.
What do you feel when you see people approaching you at public places for a picture or an autograph given your newfound fame?
I dreamt that one day people will recognise me and now when my car stops at any traffic signal in Mumbai, I see kids running towards me with a broad smile on their faces. In return for their adulation, I often give them chocolates. I feel good to see spark in those eyes. And who does not want to hear praises? I feel motivated when I get appreciation which is the biggest award for any actor.
Would you consider leaving TV for working in films in future?
Future is uncertain but right now I want to live my present completely. I never planned to be an actor. I believe that one’s intentions have to be very clear because then everything falls into place. Mr. Amitabh Bachchan never joined films thinking that they will get this popular. Ups and downs are a part of life. I am hoping for the best in my career. But it is true that everyone wants to try his or her luck in films.
Who is your favourite movie actor?
Mr Amitabh Bachchan, no doubt!
Have you even met your screen idol?
(Laughs) Not yet. I wonder what I will do when I will meet him, talk to him because his fans would have already spoken to him about all the topics that I could think of.
How would you define yourself in three words?
I am a simple, hardworking and fun-loving guy.
Are you dating someone?
Well, people have often asked me this question and I answer them that girls don’t like me because probably they think that I don’t look like a hero.