Isaiah is not a popular name in Bollywood, but the model-actor has already found himself surrounded by films and offers. He began his career after winning the Manhunt Modelling competition in 1998, which was followed by heaps of modeling and some stage acting. Isaiah then went south to Tollywood and worked in a Telugu fill titled Pokiri. He will next be seen in Kookie Gulati’s much awaited Prince, alongside Vivek Oberoi. Packed with stunts and set in the foreign locales of South Africa, the film promises to be one crazy ride filled with theatrical stunts which Isaiah got to do too. BollySpice speaks to the model-actor about modeling days, acting on stage, films and of course, his role in Prince.
What made you decide to move from modeling to acting?
I’ve had enough experience in modeling, which allowed me to travel the world and which I did in eight to ten years. I needed a change. And secondly, I got very lucky by doing some theater before I got into films – that inspired me to get into films.
How did it feel to win the Manhunt competition back in 1998? Did you ever consider acting back then?
Yeah, but at that time, my name was not Isaiah; it was Balbir. I had a name change in 2002. Not really, because like I said I was still modeling and was travelling around the world. I was really busy and I didn’t have much scope to think about films at the time. I was all about modeling at that time.
But this isn’t your first film. You’ve worked in other films previously right? What made you zero in on Bollywood?
Yes, I had worked in a film called See you @ 9 which was released in 2005. Then there was another film which I did in Telugu called Pokiri which was released in 2006. This is my third film. I always thought Bollywood would give me more scope as an actor than Tollywood, though I know both the languages; I can speak in Telugu and Hindi. But I still knew that Bollywood was where I would land up.
How easy or hard was it to make the transition from modeling to acting? Did you have to struggle at all?
Not really because I had established myself already in the country already. It seemed like it was better for me to get to acting from modeling like that.
How did you land your role in Prince?
It happened through a common friend from London. Kookie [Gulati] and I met up and spoke about it. He immediately signed me up for the film. He explained to me that the film was very high tech and so on.
How was the experience of working with the Kookie?
I enjoyed every bit of it. I should say though we had some major stunts in the film. I had a great time. Their whole treatment to the actors is amazing and we were given proper treatment as actors when we were travelling abroad, information on how South Africa would be, how dangerous it is and so on. They had given us body guards and so on. It was fun!
And working with Vivek Oberoi?
He’s a very talented actor who is very diligent. For me and him, it was a great combination because like I said I come from acting on stage before and so acting with him was quite interesting because of his tempo and temperament as an actor. We helped one another and it will be visible on screen when you see the film.
Why did you choose to debut in films with a negative role?
I don’t think it matters whether you are the main protagonist or not. There is more to the character than just being the villain or the bad man. It’s more interesting than that. So for me, it seemed appropriate to get into the skin of the character.
Do you have a love angle in the film?
No, I’m mostly towards the business side and mafia side of the film (laughs).
What can you tell us about the music of the film?
The music is good and very commercial. I think you’ll enjoy the sound but again that is more Vivek and not me. I don’t play that part.
The film is said to have a number of action sequences, how much action do you have to do in the film and what was that experience like?
There is a lot of action in the film. The action is something you have to look forward to because there are computer generated effects and also, some major stunts. I’ve done on my own without any doubles. That was new and challenging for me as an actor to portray onscreen. It was a nice start for me in Bollywood. I jump off airplanes and land on a yacht—they are really quite crazy stunts.
What else do you have coming up apart from Prince?
I have some international projects but they are not confirmed. But it’s a Hollywood project and the producer-director would be Tapan Saha who is from L.A. HE is also making a film with Bipasha [Basu] called Chai Mera I think. I’m hoping to get something alongside this movie so I can wait until the film releases and people can then decide and judge for themselves as to what role they can offer me. I’m not jumping into anything or anyhow. I’m patiently waiting.
Who are some directors you want to work with?
In India, I would like to work with Mani Ratnam, Ram Gopal Verma, Anubhav Sinha, Anurag Basu and many more.
What is a message you would like to give your audiences?
Sit tight, enjoy because it’s going to be show time!
Prince is all set to fly into theaters on April 9th, so be sure to check it out and to see Isaiah play bad and rock the stunts. BollySpice wishes the actor great luck in his future endeavors, Bollywood and beyond.