The first thing that strikes you about Arunoday Singh when you meet him is his enviable height. That is, after you’ve recovered from the full, devastating force of his devilishly charming good looks. With the brilliant success enjoyed by his Alt Balaji web series, Apharan, Arunoday couldn’t have dreamt of a better web debut. As he basks in its success and the adulation he’s still getting from audiences, IWMBuzz catches up for a one-to-one with him.
Excerpts from our chat with the new darling of the web space –
Congrats on your fabulous performance in Apharan. How do you feel with so much of positive response coming in?
It feels good! Work is always nice when it is rewarded. I am glad people liked my work. We worked really hard on it. It is always very nice to know that people responded well to it.
If Apharan had been a film, I am sure I would not have been cast.
You have had a great Bollywood career. What prompted you to explore the web space?
Just the story and the character. I don’t really consider this as a step in another direction. In today’s world, your body of work is your body of work. And the more diverse you can make it, the better it is. Why limit yourself to only a certain kind of role or character? And it is nice that content creators on the web try to tell their stories differently, and handle it differently too. If Apharan had been a film, I am sure I would not have been cast. It is because the mechanics and economics of making a film are so very different. So I am glad that Apharan was made as a web-series. I am glad that I was part of it as I loved it.
What are your thoughts on the blooming web space, having worked here?
I have always been a fan of the web space. I am glad that more things are coming up here. There are a lot of very fine actors who are getting better roles than they would have got otherwise. They deserve the exposure. I hope the medium continues to grow and make a mark.
Between Sidharth directing it and Varun writing it, it was very hard to play the character wrong. They deserve far more credit for the role’s success.
We want to know how you prepped for this fabulous character of Rudra Srivastav in Apharan?
Aah, I can’t give my trade secret away! It is a very internal thing and cannot be explained. Every actor has his own way of doing it. As long as people have enjoyed the performance, it is good. Honestly, it just happened for me. I don’t want to take too much credit for it. I think that the producer and writer deserve far more credit for the role’s success.
You amazed us with your humour, action, romance and emotions in the role. How difficult was it to play this character which had all emotions possible?
The character was written so well! I feel it would have needed a very poor actor to not play him well. Between Sidharth directing it and Varun writing it, it was very hard to play the character wrong. I am just the right guy at the right place and at the right time! Thank you for loving me in the role. That’s always the attempt.
A character this layered is exactly what an actor craves for. This is the kind of character I want to play. We so rarely get such an opportunity. The more layered and complicated the character is, the more fun the actor has.
Tell us about your personal favourite memory during the shoot of Apharan?
The stunt work was always great fun. There were lots of children following and jumping around with me (smiles). I had a great time with all these kids. They were cheering and cracking jokes. I used to chase some kids around. That was my favourite part.
We heard that you got bruised many times while carrying out your stunt scenes. How tough were they?
Yes, anytime you do your stunts, you get banged up a little bit. So that was fine. When I went home, I got scolded by my wife.
Sidharth Sengupta in his interview to us said that it was really tough to hide a huge man like you in the crowded live locations in Rishikesh and Haridwar? How tough was it for you to manage the attention of the crowd assembled to see you?
I am just glad that I was not more famous because that would have been challenging. I could actually get away with a lot of things by the time people got to know who I am. We managed the shoot at live locations really fine. People just want to watch what is going on. They don’t actually interfere much. As long as you let them know what is going on, it is manageable. I think the hidden camera stuff will now get tricky.
The best sequences in the series have been the ones that involved the huge crowd..
Yes, because we get the authentic feel of the place. We can’t do that in a studio and with CGI. I was very pleased with the result. The DOP Anil and director Sidharth get the credit for handling this so well. You have to be brave and go and think that you can manage it there. It is not an easy thing to organize. But the team managed it wonderfully.
So how was it for you to manage the crowd personally?
I don’t pay attention. I tune out. I am very good at being still in a crowd. I have my music, I plug it in and I don’t hear anything. I have my little iPod which I carry around.
How was it to work with Nidhi Singh? Rudra and Ranjana had an amazing screen presence.
Oh, she was lovely to work with. She is very hard-working, honest. She loves the job and tries new ways to do her scenes. She had great respect for the director; they shared a teacher – pupil bond. She has an amazingly great future.
There is nothing more important than the script and the director that matches the script.
Has anyone told you that you had the aura that Amitabh Bachchan had in his younger days as the angry young man?
Aah!! How sweet is that… It’s a wildly inflated compliment, but I will take it (smiles). I am blushing right now.
Tell us about yourself. What are your likes and dislikes?
I like my wife very much. Everything else is negotiable. I have few interests, few hobbies. I always try to stay busy and occupied. It is a hard question to answer though… I write poetry, I sketch. So that’s it.
You just have to give me a character this important. I will now not be doing anything less than this.
As an actor, how much does a good script and role matter to you?
It’s everything. The best director can only pull so much out of you if the script is terrible. There is nothing more important than the script and the director that matches the script.
Having tasted success on the web space, will you be game for more concepts?
If the story is as well-written, I am game for anything. You just have to give me a character this important. I will now not be doing anything less than this. My standards and confidence in myself has risen a little bit. So unless you give me a good character, I am not doing it.
What is the kind of genre that you want to work on next?
I think I will like to stay as open as possible. I do not want to limit myself in any way. If I get a good script and character regardless of what the genre it is, and if the director is somebody I have a good rapport with, I will do the part.
Sidharth Sengupta said that a Season 2 for Apharan is surely in the making. Are you excited about it?
I am really excited. He is still working on the story and script. I will be even more excited when I read it. But I have full faith in him. That man knows what he is doing.
You have had a great career so far. What are future plans with respect to films?
I have no idea yet. I hope people will realize that I am capable of lots more than what they thought I was. So that’s it. I want to be challenged. I don’t have any plans as such.
My career best work so far has to be Blackmail and Apharan.
You have a great physique and height. Do you consider that as a plus point as an actor?
It can be a plus point where my height suits what I need to do. It can also be a negative factor if it does not work. I am a very large man. So I cannot play just anyone.
Which according to you has been your best work so far?
I think Blackmail and Apharan will be it.
How does it feel when you are admired and loved by fans?
It feels very nice, but odd. I don’t get a big head, as my wife and sisters keep me on level ground. They don’t let my ego get too inflated.
What has been the ‘eureka’ moment in your life so far?
Meeting my wife was pretty much the eureka moment in my life.
Your message to all the people who have loved watching Apharan will be….
Bless you all very much. I hope to keep you happy.