Hitesh Agrawal had come to Mumbai with big dreams and still bigger determination to make it in the Hindi Film industry; a dream that he started seeing and nurturing since he was a young boy in Surat. His idols were Jackie Chan and Akshay Kumar, two acclaimed action heroes. In Mumbai, he took training at Whistling Woods and became one of the few from the first batch to get a lead role in a film. His debut film, Shabaash- You Can Do It, is releasing on 20th November. His c haracter in the film is Neil, and Hitesh really connected with character a lot, being an underdog himself. Read on to see what the newcomer has to say about his training at Whistling Woods and working on his debut film!
What is your film Shaabash -You Can Do It all about and what is your role in it?
Hitesh: Shaabash-You Can Do It is an inspiring Hindi film that addresses youth centric issues such as ragging, campus feuds, interpretation of love and relationships, competition, etc. with a very fresh and simplistic approach. It’s a film of an underdog, how a loser can change into a winner. In a process of metamorphosis, my character of Neil, a small town boy, goes through a sea of change. Neil has come to city for studies and learning the various arts like yoga, gymnastics, dance etc he finds the confident person in himself. In fact, I find Neil to be very close to me in real life too.
Can you share something from the sets of Shaabash -You Can Do It?
Hitesh: What I all learnt from Whistling Woods was Method Acting, which means that actor does what is there in the script. But while shooting I noticed that all others were going by the script but they were also improvising. I would sit down and memorize my script. So one day my Director Shankar Mondal told my leading lady Mansi not to rehearse with me for my scenes. I would rehearse on my way to the shot and give my best. Then I started taking liberty with my performance to bring the natural influence. That was the practical training.
What inspired you to be an actor?
Hitesh: India’s 95% of the population wants to become actor, so I am no exception to that. But very few get the chance to fulfill their dream. I was lucky enough to get the platform to reach my dream and be an actor. Then since the very young age, I used to be in an awe of action stunts done by Jackie Chan and Akshay Kumar. I used to dream myself in their place. Then I always wanted to see life style of Mumbai so one fine day, I took permission from my family to do MBA from here and they agreed. As soon as I reached here, I joined Shiamak Dawar Dance Academy and did theatre with Indian Drama and Entertainment Industry.
How did you move towards hard core film acting?
Hitesh: I collected enough courage to ask for my father’s permission to join Whistling Woods for one year course. Since they had seen the ads stating this course to be two years, they knew I was trying to do soft pitching. But they agreed because they wanted me to take my chances. Am so happy to have family’s support because it boosts your moral.
How did you prepare yourself to be an actor?
Hitesh: Apart from the rigorous training that I was getting from Whistling Woods, I was also training myself for hard core actions stunts separately. Everyday I would get up early in the morning and go on the beach. There I would train for Gymnastic, marshal art, jumping, free running, and special stunts. I am now an expert in Parkour, art that Akshay Kumar has used for Thums Up ad. I have also done 4 years of yoga training and practice. Currently I am further honing my dancing skills with Terrence Lewis.
Where was the need to go over board with your training? You could have done this all in stages?
Hitesh: No, I had limited time to do my training because my family would not have given me so much of grace period. I have survived on 4 to 5 hours of sleep for two years but in the end I have so much more to offer my producers. I am sure that I will be able to make a niche for myself in action.
How was your experience during Whistling Woods training?
Hitesh: First time in my life I tried to act, was at Whistling Woods. I did monologue in front of Naseeruddin Shah and he awarded me the best student actor. It was so inspiring to get the pat on the back and it became the driving force for me to do yet better. It also gave me strength to fight with every situation and increase my confidence level as an actor.
What is you criteria to doing a movie?
Hitesh: I am big fan of Jackie Chan and Akshay Kumar as they can both do action and comedy excellently. They are my idols. And as a newcomer I don’t have so much of liberty to change the script as per my wish nor should one try to do it because creative is the field of director and writer. I do have some offers in hand but I cannot be too choosy. I am looking for a combination of good script, decent production house and a well-crafted character for myself.
Now-a-day’s lots of star kids are coming in industry. How will you survive in industry with them?
Hitesh: There are lots of space for newcomers and talented, hardworking people. There are so many examples who have been from the outside of the industry. The biggest example is SRK, then Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Manoj Bajpayee, John Abraham, Ritesh Deshmukh, Shreyas Talpade, and list goes on. I am lucky that I got my first chance even before I had left the campus of Whistling Woods. Hoping for a longer innings in the industry.