New Kids On The Block – Chirag Malhotra & Pranay Pachauri
The young and dynamic Chirag Malhotra and Pranay Pachauri are all set to make their first appearance on the big screen. The duo that will be seen in Rikhil Bhadur’s Time Out talk about their first feature film and their characters among other things.
Tell us about your role in Time Out.
Chirag : I play Gaurav who is a shy boy but he wants to be involved in a lot of things. He idolizes his elder brother a lot, more than average younger brother would. He is a go-getter, but he is still shy. Eventually he comes out of his shell and does what needs to be done.
Pranay : I play Mihir who is a popular kid in school and also the captain of the basketball team. He is a very optimistic and caring guy, also very ambitious; someone you can admire and look up to. Mihir is like those popular kids that everybody wants to be like. This character is very charming, but he has a chaos going on inside him because he knows that he is gay and he cannot come out in the society and talk about it. He has this secret which he cannot reveal. Mihir is charismatic but has this dark side and a secret that nobody knows, so that adds depth to the character.
How did you bag the movie?
Chirag : I was a part of the short film (Time Out) which was made by the same director (Rikhil Bahadur) five years back. I had auditioned for it and bagged the role. So when they decided to make it into a feature film I was once again cast for the same role.
Pranay : I was in my final year of college when I got to know about this film through a friend who also plays my girlfriend in the film. She told me that there is an audition for a film called Time Out and they need a basketball player. Since I was always interested in acting, I went for the audition and that is where I met Rikhil (Director). He gave me various situations to test me and I fared well. Rikhil only had one condition, he wanted me to lose weight within one month if I wanted to be part of the film. And that was difficult. Every morning I would play basket ball for four hours and follow a strict diet to lose as much weight as I could. I was glad that I did and surprised my director too.
How was the experience of being part of a feature film?
Chirag : It was awesome! I didn’t expect it to be so huge. I was always drawn to films and would act in school plays too. I’ve also done an acting course from Mumbai. But this experience was beyond my imagination and I am very excited.
Pranay : I had no idea about how a film is made. We see films but have no clue about the hard work that goes behind making a movie. When I first faced the camera for this film, I was very anxious and nervous, but also very excited. I have no formal training in acting. But I just went with the flow and started understanding how things work on the set and behind the camera. I learnt about filmmaking and the experience was amazing; I never thought I will get to learn so much in just two and a half months. Working with a fresh cast and a director like Rikhil was amazing. This film was a team effort where we delivered together.
How did you’ll prepare for your roles?
Chirag : I’d say I’m pretty lucky, because my character is a bit like me. I am also a bit shy in real life but am also a go-getter. When I have to do something, I come forward and do it. And, I too have an elder brother, so I could relate to the character.
Pranay : I saw a lot of movies like Brokeback Mountain and many other films as references for my character who is a homosexual. I saw these movies to understand how I can form my character, the body language and everything. I also spoke to some of my friends who are homosexuals and understood what they have been through, how difficult it is to come out to the family and so on. I also got a better idea about how, at times, they have to pretend to be straight. This helped me get into the character who is calm on the surface but is struggling with an internal chaos and doesn’t know how to come out. I built my character through such interactions and watching different movies.
What appeals to you about your respective characters?
Chirag : He is a very good hearted guy and would never want anything bad to happen to anyone. I think that is because he does not wish to take credit for anything good that he does. That is one of the best things that I like about my character.
Pranay : When my character does come out to his parents, I like the fact that he doesn’t give up and holds strong. This film is all about ‘being what you want to be’. My character comes to a point where he believes “this is my truth and this is who I am, I will not be someone else”. I like how mentally strong he is at that young age. He is a class 12 student and being so matured at that age is not easy. He is sensible, matured and head strong and that is what appeals the most to me.
What are the challenges that you faced while working on Time Out?
Chirag : There were many challenges like sometimes we shot for 18 hours a day. And, we had to travel for two hours, so we barely got any sleep. Getting the movie to this stage was a big challenge, especially for Rikhil. Despite having no prior industry connection he managed to get funding from Viacom and shot the movie in just two months. But all in all, it was really fun.
Pranay : There were a number of moments. I have a kissing scene with my girlfriend in the film and we thought we will be done soon as there was nothing much to it. But we started shooting and took almost 45 takes to get it right. It is a very simple thing, yet very complex. And sometimes complex scenes are so easy to shoot. There is another scene in the film where I am getting intimate with my partner. But unexpectedly that scene got over within a few takes. Also, there is a song which was completely unplanned, we had no choreographer and the entire song was shot in one night in Delhi. The entire cast was wearing winter clothes in the month of April and everyone around was wondering what was wrong with us. Shooting a winter song during summer in Delhi was challenging.
So Chirag, do you think that Bollywood is open to newcomers who are not from a film family?
I haven’t gone for auditions, so I don’t really know. But I am going to try out real soon and I’ll definitely let you know when I do (smiles).
Tell us about your future plans. Any movies in the pipeline?
Chirag : I have received some calls and an also working on another corporate with Rikhil. But currently I am just waiting for Time Out to release.
Pranay : Since the trailer was launched, I have been getting calls and have some auditions lined up. There are some scripts that I had received earlier and will be going through them. But it is too soon to say anything. I am a newcomer and it takes time. I am also doing my own YouTube show called What’s Trending India, which I anchor and produce.