I can never forget the first time I met Vicky Kaushal. It was late evening and he landed up at my office to audition for my debut feature, Zubaan. He may have been the 400th actor who was coming to audition.
We had been auditioning actors for over five months and I had rejected each one of them. I was at the end of my tether. Having spent so many years writing the script of Zubaan, I was very clear about the actor I wanted. It was a deeply frustrating time for me and when my producer Guneet Monga suggested Vicky’s name to me, the first thing she said was ‘he’s only an AD, not an actor, so don’t raise your hopes, but give it a shot.’
By then I was so desperate, I would have auditioned a tree.
So in walked this tall, skinny, scrawny fellow with bad skin and bad teeth but with a hunger and earnestness in his eyes that none of the other 400 boys before him had. I took a good look at him and internally decided that I was not going to cast him. He seemed too unpolished, too far removed from the actor I needed but in an effort to be kind to him, I auditioned him nonetheless.
I gave him the sides and then disinterestedly waited while he prepared himself. But my jaw dropped once I said action. The way he delivered the scene-the sensitivity, the intensity, the heft he displayed, I could not believe my senses. It gave me goosebumps.
I made him audition many scenes that evening. Each time he was better than the last. Then I called him to my office the next day and for the next 10 days and made him test each scene from the script. Every day he was better than the last. He was phenomenal.
I’m not at all surprised to see Vicky’s spectacular rise. What the audience has seen of him till now is nothing. He is a consummate all-rounder, he can deliver anything. And I mean that-ANYTHING. I have seen him do it all and his brilliance is rare and unparalleled. The more complex the part, the more easily he will succeed. With big tent pole films like Takht in his grasp, he will shine blindingly.
But it is his understanding of reality that will always be his ultimate trump card. I hope he never loses that. I don’t think he will. He has a loving family that has no time for the fluff of stardom. They keep each other real and I have witnessed this at close quarters.
And thus, in spite of all the ‘josh’ around Vicky right now, I know he has his feet firmly planted on the ground, his head tightly screwed on his shoulders, his heart full of gratitude while he blasts his favourite Punjabi rap on his ghetto blaster and gets down, because it’s time to celebrate and celebrate he must.
Big hug Dilsher (Vicky Kaushal's character in Zubaan).
(Mozez Singh has directed Vicky Kaushal in critically acclaimed Zubaan. He has also produced films like Peddlers, Haraamkhor and White Noise.)