Aashim Gulati: “Box office & tributes were never my concern”

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Aashim Gulati is all set to make his big screen debut in this week’s release, ‘Tum Bin 2’. With Anubhav Sinha turning to romance once more, Gulati and the rest of the cast are hoping to recreate the success of the original ‘Tum Bin’ which released in 2001. Gulati was recently in London and BizAsiaLive.com caught up with him.

Aashim Gulati
Aashim Gulati

You’re in London for a charity fashion event, can you tell us a little bit about that?
It was a fashion charity ball by this designer called Faraz Manan. I’d shot with him back home in India and he wanted me to come down be the showstopper. It took place at the Four Seasons and it went pretty well. He was very happy with it.

You’re getting ready for the release of ‘Tum Bin 2’. Why did you choose that film to start your Bollywood off with?
It basically came at a time where, though I was auditioning for films, I wasn’t doing it at a hard core pace as I was doing TV commercials. Having been in Mumbai for four years so that’s how I got to do all these TV ads, but I knew that I wanted to get into films. It just so happened that I had done a music video with T-Series, with Sonakshi Sinha, and that’s when I got the attention and then Bhushan (Kumar) sir wanted me to audition for ‘Tum Bin 2’. I was in Delhi at the time in my home town and I auditioned for the film there, and then there were about four rounds of auditions that happened. The script was something that I could relate to, and it’s a film that a lot of people are aware of; it’s a cult film now. It goes back to 2001 when it was released and it was a huge success. Also it’s a very relatable script, a very real story and it’s a romantic drama. After reading the script, I feel people’s perception of romantic dramas are going to change after they see this film. I was literally in tears after I read the script. So if it could move me to that extent of just reading the script, I thought it would definitely have a great impact on the audience. So that was one of the main reasons, because the script was so moving.

Do you feel any pressure, because as you said the original was so well received?
Yes there is a lot of pressure, because there have been a lot of people who have been commenting and asking “Will you be able to do justice to the characters? Obviously it was a huge success with new actors back when ‘Tum Bin’ 1 came, and now again you guys here haven’t done a film before.” So of course there was pressure to be able to match up to that, but that shouldn’t be any of my concern, to match up to that. There’s no competition, of course. The only pressure was to just uphold and take the legacy forward, and keeping the essence and the flavour of ‘Tum Bin’ 1 intact. We’re just presenting it in our own beautiful way. So that was something that I want to hear from others, and that was the only pressure of how I will be able to bring a different side of the character that I’m playing, which is obviously different from what ‘Tum Bin’ 1 was. Box office and tributes were never my concern because that’s not in my hands. For me it was that I needed to give my 100% as it is my first film, and just do justice to my director’s vision. I think and believe we’ve done a pretty good job, as a lot of the cast and the crew have seen the film and they say it doesn’t feel like it’s my first film, and I take that as a compliment.

With the trailer now out, it looks fantastic.
Yes it’s been received really well.

Talking about your journey through shooting and getting to know your character, what would you say you’ve learnt about yourself through doing this film?
I believe that the idea of romance and love have changed over the past 15 years, and how we perceive love and romance is a bit different now as to how things were back in the day. It’s more fast paced now, there doesn’t seem to be much effort that people make in today’s day and age. There’s a very conventional approach to it, for instance the other day I was talking to somebody me and told me “I’ve been in this relationship for a long time, and we just broke up.” So I asked them “How long had you been dating?” They replied, “It had been like 6 long months.” So I was like “That is long now.” So you know the time period of being in a relationship has shortened. So with that, when you see the film it will make you realise that, that essence that ‘Tum Bin’ had is very much there. It’s very real, it’s very relatable where a lot of people will watch the film and be able to say “Yeh I’ve been in situations like that.” And somewhere you kind of seek that kind of romance and love. You keep lying to yourself. Because you need to change the times and I also feel like that but I’m a one woman guy and I feel I need to have that kind of a relationship; like how it used to be back in the day, you know the Shah Rukh Khan films. So you do want that. But times have changed it’s a little difficult to achieve that yet not impossible. So I feel that I want that, and with this film it all came back to me. Not that it wasn’t there before, but now it’s more like I need that too. It’s something that’s special in your life, and that someone special in your life you do seek that kind of love. So it was a great learning experience for me, as these are all things I’ve realised about myself. That this is how I am and how this is what I want for myself as well.

aashim-neha-tum-bin-2

You shot in Scotland, which is rather a romantic place. How would you describe the experience of shooting there?
I hadn’t been in the UK before that, it was my first time in the UK and it was surreal. It’s been shot very well actually. Our DOP (Director of Photography) Ewan has done a really fantastic job, we’ve shot at some of the most beautiful places, we’ve gone to the Isle of Skye, we shot in Edinburgh,  and all these places are fantastic. So it was a lot of fun. We were shooting from Friday to Saturday, but there were days where I used to get a couple of days off in the middle, so that’s when I used to wonder off and roam around see Scotland. But while we were shooting; there’s a really funny incident that happened while we were shooting on the street outside. There were a bunch of really drunk school kids on the street where we were shooting, and they came up to the director and said “Sir can we please take a picture with the actors?”, and we were in the middle of a shot and the director said “No, we’re shooting I;m sorry.” He was very sweet and they kind of took it as though they weren’t having it, so then they went and came back in a group and said (puts on a Scottish accent) “Oi why you filming on the streets of Glasgow.” (laughs) It was so funny because they were wasted, so funny things like that took place. But overall we shot at really really nice locations as well. Like my house/Amar’s house in the film was just fantastic. We went on location and had this beautiful house that we rented and it was so nice I actually convinced myself that I need to buy a house here and I talked to the owner of the house and she said “No, I’m not selling this house.” But overall it was a fantastic experience.

How would you describe your experience working with Anubhav Sinha?
He’s like a mentor now. He made everything so easy, and he made the whole journey so easy and smooth sailing because when we started we did about 45 days of workshops before the film. He’s more like a friend than a dictator, especially for me being a first timer in the industry with my first film. It was actually a treat to work with a director like him because there was never a time where he made me feel as though “This is what I want, and what you think is not right, and what I believe is what you need to do,” he never did that. He always took my opinion first about the scene and what I thought of it, and that’s all probably coming from a place where we were all so well prepared because of the workshops, that by the time we got on set we were on the same page. There was no more than 2-3 takes for a scene, never did it happen that we were stuck in a scene and we can’t move forward.  So everything was just really really smooth, and for me especially, I was a little nervous at the beginning as to how the film would be and how I would be performing. He just made everything really easy, he believed in us and he has so much confidence in us, and that was very inspiring for me and motivating. He would just motivate me all the time to “Be yourself and just be honest with what you’re doing, and who you are as Amar,” and the rest everything was taken care of. I have no words for him he was fantastic. He’s the best director that I could want for my first film, because you can come across directors who are a bit difficult, but he was the complete opposite. He just made it very easy for us.

What do you want the audiences to take away from ‘Tum Bin 2’?
Just the fact that it’s real. It’s so relatable, it’s more real than reel. With Amar, Taran and Shikha. Everyone will be able to see an Amar in them, at some point in their life they’ll be like “Oh yeh, I was this guy,” With Taran yes all the girls will be feeling whoever’s been through a heartbreak who has loved somebody the way Taran has, people would relate to that, subconsciously they’ll probably go back home and think about it, they’d take that feeling and that emotional journey that Taran and all of us in the film have gone through. They will definitely think about it, and be able to relate with it as well as have the feeling of being there at some point in their lives. That;s how relatable and real the story is. That’s how real the characters are and the performances have been so real and honest that it’s going to be a tear jerker as well. There hasn’t been a good romantic drama in a while, so we have to serve them a beautiful story and something which get them to seek this kind of love and romance and probably heartbreak.

You’re making a transition from some TV Projects as well?
Yes, I’ve actually done a finite too for a Star Plus called ‘Gulmohar Grand’ (2015). I was just treading the waters to see how I was in front of the camera’s. I hadn’t really acted in front of the camera because back in school I used to do theatre, and for me the idea of acting was being on stage. I did not understand what it felt like to be in front of the camera, and how the camera catches every moment, even an eye blink. I didn’t know that concept, so I was a little sceptical that if I had to come on the big screen and act in a film, I have to be sure that I’m even worth the cinema. If I don’t look good or if I don’t perform well, or if there’s something I’m not aware of, then it can go horribly wrong as well. I know I didn’t want to do television, it was just something that I wanted to try, and I did. It was a finite series it was a proper show that went on for a long time, it was only for a short period of time. I got to learn a lot, and I got to realise a lot about myself, and I learnt a lot by being here and being in front of the camera. Yes, I could do a lot better and work on myself a lot more and I did. So I think hopefully in the film it should come across if I have.

Would you say that it was a good basis then, for now to go forward in Bollywood?
Absolutely.  I mean everyone has their own way, there’s no linear way of getting into Bollywood, or getting into television in that matter. It’s just everybody have their own journey, everyone makes their own craft and own path, so for me it was through TV commercials. The TV show just so happened to come my way, and I thought it was an interesting very modern kind of script, that I could be a part of. I didn’t want to be a part of the typical TV dramas, you know the typical sasu kind (laughs). This was something that was up my alley so I thought why not? It did me well for sure.

BizAsiaLive.com would like to thank Aashim Gulati for taking the time to talk to us.

‘Tum Bin 2’ releases on 18th November – also starring Neha Sharma and Aditya Seal.

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