Tanuj Virwani has a line-up of some interesting projects in his pipeline and that includes Dharma Productions’ ‘Yodha‘. ETimes caught up with the actor for a candid chat where he spoke about working with Sidharth Malhotra and Raashii Khanna. He reflected on his foray into web series and the advantages and challenges of being a star kid. Tanuj also shared the invaluable life advice he received from his mother, the veteran actress Rati Agnihotri.Excerpt…
‘Yodha’ seems like an exciting project. Could you share any insights into your character in the film?
Yes, it’s a dream come true for me as an actor to work with a production house like Dharma and with all the talent involved. It’s definitely something I can confidently and happily strike off my bucket list. Unfortunately, I cannot really divulge much about either the film or my character right now because we still have a couple of months to go, but hopefully very soon.How was your experience working alongside Sidharth Malhotra, Disha Patani and Raashi Khanna?
I had a wonderful experience shooting with both Sidharth as well as Raashi. Both are absolute professionals and very sweet and lovely to work with. Unfortunately, I don’t have any screen space with Disha, so I have not even met her. But the rest of the cast, everyone, the primary, secondary, tertiary cast, everyone’s been an absolute joy to work with.
Whom did you bond the most with on the set while shooting?
I think I bonded a lot with my directors, Sagar and Pushkar. I think the one thing that really helped us bond was our common love for cricket. I think that’s just something that really helped our working equation evolve and thrive.

Karan Johar confirms Sidharth Malhotra starrer Yodha’s release date

You’ve made quite a mark in the web series domain. What draws you to this platform, and what unique aspects do you find in working on digital series compared to traditional media?
I would be lying if I said that I was the one that decided to take the plunge and opt for web series. My films were not working at the box office and the kind of work that I was hoping and aspiring to do was not happening and that’s when ‘Inside Edge‘ came to me and the rest, as they say, is history. So I feel in a lot of ways web series and the OTT platforms have chosen me and not the other way around.
One thing that I really love about OTTs as a whole is this entire concept of long format storytelling. I feel when you’re making a film you have severe time constraints. You have got to tell a cohesive story in a span of two, two and a half, three hours maximum. You know, usually an interval has three or four songs in it. When you’re making a web series it is a little different. You don’t have just one central protagonist, you have many important characters. I could be on the sidelines in one episode and I can be front and center in the next. From an actor’s point of view, you just get a lot more time, a lot more screen time to help that character grow and that’s what really really resonates with me.
Being Rati Agnihotri’s son, how has her experience and journey in the industry influenced your approach to acting and the entertainment world?
It’s an absolute honour and blessing and I thank God every day that I am my mother’s son. Having said that, being a star kid, there are certain advantages as well as disadvantages. Advantages being, you get easier access, people already know you within the fraternity. The flip side is that the pressure and the expectations can somehow sometimes be rather unreasonable. I think one kind of cancels out the other and I would not trade this for anything in the world.

I think the best advice my mom has given me is more of life advice as opposed to just acting advice and it’s basically that this is a very Friday-to-Friday dependent industry, right? You know, sometimes the chips are down, sometimes your stock is really up in the sky depending on how your films and your shows are performing. You should never ever let failure get to your heart or let success go to your head. That’s what she has always told me and another very good piece of advice that she has given me is that you always need to focus more on the process as opposed to the result. If you just keep doing that eventually you will be successful at whatever you undertake.
Are there any industry mentors who have played a significant role in shaping your career?
Well, I would not say there is any one specific person but I actually look up to a lot of people. A lot of directors, showrunners, actors who I have had the good fortune of being able to work with. From my early days it will definitely be Karan Anshuman, he entrusted with me the responsibility of playing the character of Vayu Raghavan and that really changed the trajectory of my career. Then of course, Karan Johar sir for giving me such a prestigious project in ‘Yodha’.
Then just many of the fine actors that I have had the good fortune of working with, it could be a Kay Kay Menon, it could be a Vijay Raaz, it could be a Brijinder Kalra, of course the one and only Sunny Leone because she was one of the first big actors I worked with when I decided to kind of get into the acting career. So, there are a lot of people that I would have to credit.

Can you share a particularly memorable or pivotal moment in your career so far?
Yes, little trivia for you. I didn’t ever think I would be an actor. I was always inclined creatively and I always thought I will do something behind the camera. Be that writing, be that direction. That is definitely something I still aspire to do at some point in my career. I just don’t know what the timeline is. It gives me a lot of satisfaction. And I feel when you are creative, it’s not just restricted to being an actor. I just love watching films, I love being part of films, I love studying films. And I love this entire concept of creating from scratch works of fiction based on some fact. And it’s just been magical and God willing it will continue to be.
Apart from ‘Yodha’, what else do you have in your pipeline?
Well, I have got a pretty exciting line-up. I have a show that I am really looking forward to coming out with Kay Kay Menon and it is called Murshid. It’s a father-son story set in Mumbai. I have got a film with Vijay Raaz, Brijinder Kalra, Zakir Hussain and Zarina Wahab called ‘Johnny Jumper.’ That should be out sometime next year.
I have done this lovely cute little rom-com called ‘Puppy Love’. It’s a space that I have not really dabbled with of late and it was a nice change of pace. I also have a crime thriller in my pipeline. I recently did a short film with Gajraj Rao called ‘The Interview’. It’s basically been made for festival circuits. I am hoping that it gets a good platform release soon as well.

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