“I would not have liked having a Godfather” – Sumeet Vyas
Sumeet Vyas is an Indian actor and writer of films, web series and theatre. His breakthrough role was of Mikesh Chaudhary in TVF’s web series Permanent Roommates. Vyas has since played prominent roles in Bollywood films including English Vinglish, Parched, Guddu Ki Gun, and Veere Di Wedding.
He has his first starring role in 2016 drama film Ribbon and his performance was well received by critics. Apart from acting in films and television programmes, Vyas also appears in theatre productions in India.
Q. You are a self-made person. How does it feel?
I never thought in that direction that I would need some help or someone, who would bail me out, and never missed having a so called, godfather. In fact, I would not have liked it, if someone would constantly keep telling me, what films I should do , what projects I should not do. I always preferred to do the kind of work that I wanted to do, irrespective of what people would have thought of it. My upbringing has been of this kind, even my parents never interfered in my career choices and they let me do what I wanted to do.
Honestly, I always preferred doing what I always thought of doing. So, I never missed having a godfather.
Q. Starting from DD National to Satellite Tv to being internet sensation to films. How has been your journey ?
It has been great! It has been a journey of lot of learnings and there were things which I could have done differently. Now, I am glad that I meet those mistakes, as you know, you learn more from your mistakes. So, it has been a great journey and very enriching one.
Q. You became internet star with ‘Permanent Roommates’. What convinced you to try online video format as a platform.
I did not think too much about this. I happened to watch some of the video that TVF had made and I was blown away by them. They were so nice, so fresh, and they had a voice. Back then, I knew someone in TVF, when they started and told them that I really liked the work they are doing and would like to work with them. They were kind enough to call me to do the show – ‘Permanent Roommates’, which at that time, was not something that they were sure about. We thought it would be show of gags or small videos, but when we started shooting, they felt it had potential of a proper show and had meat for a story. we did experiment and it really worked .
Q. You believe strongly in theatre as a medium to perform. What are your views on it?
People who are crazy about Bollywood would never really want to explore theatre because you know it is a different art form. It is like test cricket and IPL cricket . So for people, who like test matches will always like to watch test matches, even if the IPL is very successful. People think theatre is a very niche art form, but it is the oldest art form, which originated long before the films, even way before the camera came in. people use to perform live on stage. Even today, people are performing live. So, you can never compare the two.
Q. You are also a writer and have written many web shows including Y film’s ‘Bang Baja Baaraat’. You like to explore a lot. What more can we see coming up from you.?
There are couple of scripts that I have worked on, as now, I had a lot of time during this lockdown phase. So hopefully they will be shot, once things open up and you will see more about my stuffs that I have written. I would really like that to come out .
Q. In one of your Ted talks, you said – ‘Find your fuel’. What is your fuel? What keeps you motivated in challenging environment.?
I mean generally what keeps you motivated is your fuel. It is the feeling that comes to me and tells me that I can’t do this and every time I have this feeling, directly or indirectly, it motivates me to try harder .
We all are equal. If one person can do a stuff, why cannot me? So, I feel like, if he could do then why couldn’t I and although god has made everyone equal. If I see someone doing some hard stuff and achieving many things, I think I can at least try for it.
Q. How was working opposite Kareena Kapoor Khan in ‘Veere Di Wedding’ ?
She is lovely. She has done lot of films, a very professional and very accomplished actor and that is the reason why she is so popular. I learned a lot from her . It was great working with her.
Q. Which format you enjoy most – films, web or theatre? Which has been your most challenging role till date?
To be very honest, there is not much difference between films and web series , because for all, the format is camera. So essentially, you are shooting for the camera. There is a difference between theatre and the shooting of films ,shooting for camera. So in that sense, obviously I enjoy doing theatre more as it is an actor’s medium. I believe most actors would say that theatre is their first love as essentially, it is an actor’s medium. A stage is driven by actors.
Q. What is your biggest learning in life? Do you have any regret?
No not really, I do not think one should regret for things tried or being done in the past. In fact, you should learn from them and unless, you harm someone or hurt someone, you shouldn’t regret.
I think all the things I tried in life, were would done for the sake of art, to tell stories and of all the mistakes I made, were stories that were and are waiting to be told.
Q. Do you remember any incident which moved you for good?
Many! I don’t really think that any one incident that shaped or changed my life as such.
There’s only one I remember, when I saw the first play and was 16 or 17 years old. I went to Prithvi theatre and saw actors performing live and that is probably, has been a defining incident, which changed the course of my life. As, before that, I had no focus, I did not know where I wanted to be and what I wanted to become. But after watching the play, I knew exactly, what I wanted to do. I wanted to perform and wanted to be on stage .
Q. Do you have any role model?
No! I do not have any role model as such. I do appreciate the work that people do.
I think it is dangerous habit to idolise a person. If you are inspired by the work a person does, you should take inspirations from many people, instead of idolising one person and just blindly following that person. So, in that sense, I don’t really have a person that I look up to. I do not think like that. There is good in all of us and then there is little bit of flaw in all of us. You should take little bits of everyone and that’s what I see.
Q. You look enterprising. Do you have business acumen?
I am terrible at business. If I had been good at business, I would have made a lot of money. I am not very good with money and also, I am not that capable of being a boss. For me, it is good to be an actor and be my own boss and try to do that well.
Q. How do you see the content industry is evolving? Do you see its shifting to consumer driven market with their choices of content and exhibition platforms?
Yes it is. With the advent of platform, people are having an exposure to all kind of content. People from every class and strata of society are having exposure to the best of the shows from across the world- not just America, not just UK, but from everywhere, be it Europe, be it Africa.
In today’s time you cannot make a sub-standard stories and expect them to work, it is highly unlikely. You have to have a fresh voice , you have to some relevance in the kind of content that you have created. So it’s challenging, but again, it is a good thing that it is challenging because it drives us harder to create better content.
Q. What is next from you?
There are couple of shows which we had shot and are now in the stage of post- production. There are few days of shoot left and we are hoping once, the situation improves, we can complete the shoot, do the patch work and the shows can come out.
I have done a show for Hotstar and it should come out by the end of the year or early next year. There are few things I have done for other platforms and hope once the pandemic is over, we will be able to see the shows.
Q. Any message for budding talent ?
I would just say don’t get disappointed very soon because this is the kind of work, which will disappoint you, on more than one occasions. So, if you want to make it and if you have pain, use it as a weapon for yourself and work harder.