Tony Luke made his Bollywood debut with last week’s release ‘Badla’, but he’s been seen in Malayam films since 2016 when the acting bug finally bit him. The model-turned-actor’s role in the Sujoy Ghosh directorial has been appreciated by many, not least because of his easy-on-the-eye looks and earthy demeanour for a role that’s full of different sides.
BizAsiaLive.com caught up with the actor post the film’s release.
With your performance as Arjun Joseph in ‘Badla’, you definitely leave an impact. How does it feel to make such a debut in Bollywood?
I feel truly blessed and happy. “Out of the world” would be the apt expression! It’s more than a dream come true to be introduced as an actor in a film directed by one of the finest character-driven storytellers of our times; Mr Sujoy Ghosh, alongside the legend himself Mr Bachchan sir, the lovely Taapsee and the brilliant Amrita Singh Ma’m. And to have the great man Shah Rukh Khan put his trust in this film and have Red Chillies Entertainment produce and market this film is just amazing. What more can a debutante ask for?
How much work did you have to do beforehand in preparation for the role?
Well I was confirmed for the role like two-three weeks prior to shoot. The first challenge was that I had just wrapped up another South film in which I was 90kg overweight. Sujoy wanted a lean slim look for Arjun Joseph, who even has a shirt-less scene in ‘Badla’. What my director wants he gets! So I had about two weeks to slim down to a neat 80-82kg. Another equally difficult challenge was to learn and brush up my Hindi speaking skills as it’s a dialogue intensive film alongside some of the top actors in the country. And I achieved both to the best of my abilities.
Arjun has different shades to him to suit the perspective being talked about in the film. You’ve played an antagonist before but what were your thoughts when you were approached?
I have never played a layered character before so the moment Sujoy narrated the script to me, I was hooked. I haven’t done such extreme characters with intense essences so I wasn’t apprehensive about the various layers in the character but the challenge laid before me by my director was to flow from one layer to another with subtlety. His instruction to me was zero dramatisation and maximum internalisation. What my director asks, he gets it again! (laughs). Though some part of the media has been a bit harsh about my style of acting in this film, calling it bland (which is something I expected), in my book, it’s easier to dramatise the changes than doing it with subtlety. Doing a character in a free flowing subtle manner is an art.
When did you find out about the others in the film and how did you react at knowing that you would be seen with Amitabh Bachchan (although you don’t share any scenes)?
I came to know from Sujoy that I was in a film with Mr Bachchan sir during our script narration. And oh my God! That was a moment. Sujoy had to ask me to calm down and I was truly happy when I heard that I would be doing scenes with Amrita Singh Ma’m and Taapsee. It is every actor’s dream to work with top notch actors.
You shared some scenes with Amrita Singh who is a veteran actress in her own right. What was this like?
In just one word: Perfection. She is a fantastic actress and moreover a wonderful, kind human being. She is film royalty but the thing that strikes you the most is her humility, sweetness and the warmth she shares with people around her. I like her a lot!
You come from a modelling background and many have had a similar career into acting into film. Are films something you had in mind when you first started modelling at 19?
Absolutely not. From my perspective, acting is a natural born talent which, when developed over the years, can be called the experience of an actor. But you have to be born with that talent to start with and I didn’t know if I had it in me back then. As destiny would have it, one thing led to another and now at this juncture, I love acting and I enjoy every bit of it.
Has acting felt like natural progression for you?
From the moment I did my first scene for a short film two years back, I knew I had a certain affinity to being in character in front of a camera. All the emotions, body language and focus required to maintain the essence take after take… It all came just naturally to me. It was a surprise to me because as a person I am an introvert.
You made your film debut in 2016 and have been seen in Malayalam films until ‘Badla’ happened. Do you think you will still continue acting in both languages?
Sure, if both the industries will have me!
You have confirmed you’ve been approached for an international show, which sounds exciting. Is there anything else you can reveal?
Nothing at the moment. It’s just talks and hopefully something should materialise. I have just begun a year or so back so I always depend on my current film and my performance in it to lead me to the next project. My last film got me here and now that Badla is storming into positive reviews and tickets sales. Therefore I feel positive about the future.
Are there any particular roles you would totally jump at taking on post ‘Badla’?
From all the past characters and emotions I have experienced and displayed on screen, I have a feeling I will do very well in comedies and new age romances. Saying that, I am up for any challenging roles that might come my way.
If you could name any one film that you really wished you were a part of in recent times, what would it be?
There are so many! I loved Ranveer Singh in Padmaavat; what a performance! I loved that character. I also would love to give a try on the character done by James McAvoy in Split by M Night Shyamalan. That character is so layered, so challenging and inspiring. It’s unbelievable.
BizAsiaLive.com would like to thank Tony Luke to taking the time to talk to us. ‘Badla’ is in cinemas now.