Exclusive – Self made people inspire me : Takesh Singh

Heer Kothari in conversation with Takesh Singh

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With the OTT scenario booming, there are many actors of the like of Takesh Singh who’d choose to take on to roles that are challenging, and would advantageously underline their career graph, to enable experimentation with more nuanced parts. Takesh Singh who was last seen in The Tashkent Files moves onward to other projects and flirts with some other interesting ideas alongside. The idea isn’t only about experimenting with his parts on screen, but its also about wearing a number of hats behind the scenes.

In an exclusive dialogue for Scribbes.com, Heer Kothari urges Takesh Singh to delivers us to the invaluable insights in his career,

Tell us something about your journey in the industry?

Well, my journey has been quite interesting, to say the least. I have worked in multiple capacities in the industry before finally getting to focus on what I love in the last few years; that is acting and film making. I am a trained actor who has studied acting For The Camera from Melbourne, Australia, while simultaneously perusing my degree in Finance and Marketing.

I arrived in Mumbai with ginormous dreams of being lapped up by the industry given my training as an actor. But things weren’t as easy as I thought. I was in a relatively new city with virtually zero contacts in the Industry. That is when I decided to fall back on my degree in Finance and Marketing and took up a job in the marketing department of the leading Hollywood Studio. The primary aim was to comprehend the nuances of the industry and make some contacts thus finding a way of creating opportunities for myself.

Simultaneously I took to theatre post office hours which really helped me evolve as an actor. Theatre put me in direct contact with some well-known production houses and I soon started getting audition calls for TV Commercials. I was good at balancing both my job and my acting career and started finding innovative ways of getting out of the office to give auditions. I started doing quite a few TV Commercials while I was working. Being a storyteller at heart I used to have to think of the most innovative excuses to not attend office when I had TV Commercial shoot. But thankfully most of my bosses were quite supportive.

The balancing act is what led me to get work in films. I played character roles in a few small films, including a film called ‘Naina’ with Urmila Matondkar, ‘Khoya Khoya Chand’ with Sudhir Mishra and also landed a fun role in a Hollywood film titled ‘One Night With the King’, where I acted alongside legends like ‘Omar Sharif’ and ‘Peter O Toole’. This was an experience of a lifetime! and I’d never forget this one.

I’ve also acted in a few short films. Despite having done multiple TV Commercials with leading directors for brands like Monster.com, Via.com, Onida AC, McDonalds, Frooti, Aditya Birla Group, and many more, it’s in the last 2 years, I’ve begun to procure exciting roles as an actor. This began with the movie ‘Manto’ directed by Nandita Das, followed by the Netflix series ‘Selection Day’, The ‘Tashkent Files’ directed by Vivek Agnihotri, ‘Mission Mangal’, and a web series called ‘Holy Cross’ that streams on Sony Liv. For the first time, I’ve played a character with grey shades here. My role in ‘Holy Cross’ has also got me nominated for an ITA Award for Best Male Actor (Popular), which is a humbling experience.

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Along with my acting career, I am also an Anchor and Voice Over artist, and I do a lot of corporate Voice-Over work and dubbing assignments for shows on OTT platforms.  I also run a production house called T Junction Media, where I produce and direct digital advertisements and short films. Most of the ads have been scripted by our team. Also, I am thankful to have made advertisements for leading brands like Microsoft, Tata Capital, Pigeon India, and many more. I am grateful to have got an opportunity to produce and direct one of India’s first web series in 2012. Also, given that I started life in Mumbai by working in film marketing and distribution, I still work with many corporates to help them create opportunities to be showcased in movies and web series through product placements (in film placements).

How did ‘India’s Got Colour’ happen? What are your views on this pressing topic?

Well, I am extremely proud to be a part of India’s Got Colour campaign directed by Nandita Das and Mahesh Mathai. Nandita Das’s team reached out to me asking me if I would like to be a part of this super cool video they were making, and I instantly said yes at a drop of a hat! It is a cause extremely close to my heart. As a vast nation of 1.3 billion people its extremely sad to see that people still discriminate against one another, on the basis of skin colour. The music video is a small step to change such mindsets.

India’s diversity is to be celebrated as opposed to discriminating against one another. Coming back to the video it is an honour to be part of this campaign, and it was a fun shoot along with some other super cool actors and technicians. I am extremely thankful to Nandita Das for thinking about me again after ‘Manto’. She is always such a joy to work with.

Can you give us more insight into the ‘Tashkent Files’?

The ‘Tashkent Files’ is a very important film about the mystery surrounding the death of Late Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Ji. It was a great feeling to be part of a film that also features stalwarts like Mithun Chakraborty, Naseeruddin Shah, Pankaj Tripathi, Pallavi Joshi and many more. I play an aggressive news anchor, who is always on the ball for the next big story. It is an important character who takes the story forward.

As an actor, such a character is exciting to play given the different layers that one needs to showcase. In fact, when casting director Taran Bajaj told me about the role I was very excited to do it. I am thankful to him and of course to the film’s director, Mr. Vivek Agnihotri, for believing in me. It’s always great to work with a director who believes in you and allows you to improvise and bring a little bit of your own uniqueness to the character.

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The other exciting highlight for me is that my character’s voice has been used as the film’s narrator. My voiceover plays out to introduce all the key characters in the film and also to speak about all the critical developments in the film. Being a voiceover artist, it felt amazing to be able to contribute to a prolific film like the ‘Tashkent Files’ in this way too.’

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Who has been your inspiration in the industry?

I am inherently inspired by those people in general, especially those who are self-made. People who’ve started from scratch, who’ve overcome numerous hurdles to make it larger than life, and have never lost belief in themselves, and have ultimately emerged as winners. Specifically, in the Industry, I would have to name Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Each of these living legends has worked their way up through an inspiring narrative of their own.

In fact, I also share my birthday with Mr. Bachchan and have grown up watching his films. He is someone who apart from his acting, is loved by all for his voice. To think that, the ‘All India Radio’ rejected him because his voice at one time is quite something. He has battled near-death experiences and bankruptcy but has fought back. He continues to be on top of his game even today and is still so young at heart.

Shahrukh Khan made so many of us believe that we can make a mark in this industry. As a child I had acted in one episode of a TV show ‘Wagle Ki Duniya’ and I remember watching him on the sets of that show where he had also been part of one episode. He is someone who had NO industry connections and has purely made it with a dint of hard work. He is armed with the ability to work hard and has undying self-belief.

Look at him today, not only is he an amazing actor; but he’s a brilliant producer too. He always says that you are your own competition which is something that I too have always believed. Never compare yourself with others, just keep bettering yourself and keep learning.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s journey is another wonderful story as people know. He is a person who has really made his mark in the industry by doing small roles. He’s now advanced to playing the lead protagonist in many eminent films and series.

I can never forget Ganesh Gaitonde. I am ever thankful to have worked alongside him in ‘Manto’.

 What do your upcoming projects involve?

As an actor, I’ve been prepping for a new web series which will commence shooting soon. I’ve acted in an untitled Netflix Original film, which releases early next year, (Totally Looking forward to this one). I am also working towards developing some original content for the web, which I am excited about. On the film making the front, I have finished writing a feature film on a subject very close to my heart which I have already begun pitching. I am also collaborating with a few producers to develop web series so I am looking forward to the exciting times ahead.


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