They say one tends to learn with experience and with time!!
This is exactly what has moulded Shashank Vyas as an actor who is capable of proving his versatility every time he is handed over a delightful script.
Shashank is one of those lucky actors to have bagged a biggie in his very first project, a show as huge as Balika Vadhu. From being a nobody, his tenure with the show taught him all the nuances needed to become a good actor. Today, he is heralded for a man who looks at the quality of work rather than quantity.
In an exclusive conversation with IWMBuzz.com, Shashank Vyas talks about his first show Balika Vadhu, his learnings and achievements and on how it created a star profile for him.
Balika Vadhu is on air again…. Let your thoughts flow, please
If I look at my journey to date, and from the point, it all started for me, Balika Vadhu gives me nostalgic moments for sure. Coming from a small town to the city called Mumbai in the year 2009 and bagging the show in 2010 takes me back to the moments where I had no financial backup as well as a roof to live in. I have seen my struggling days and my life shaped up in a beautiful way with Balika Vadhu. From travelling in local trains not being allowed by my friend to stay with him, to spending weeks without a house to live in, to the life I have today, Balika Vadhu has given me a lot. Money can get over one day, but the learnings I have taken home through the show have been immense. It will be in me till the last breath of mine. I have worked with the show for 5 years, with actors like Surekha Sikriji, Smita Bansal, Anup Soni and others. I have told this many times, that the set of Balika Vadhu was not a workplace for me. It was a workshop for me. I have never gone to any kind of acting institute. I was paid to learn over there (smiles). Anything that comes to us for the first time in our lives stays forever and I am truly blessed that Balika Vadhu happened to me. I learned everything from acting, lighting, to camera angles, direction, writing, technical parts through this show.
What does this rerun mean to you and your family?
My family, especially my father is glued from 6 to 8 PM now to Balika Vadhu. Earlier, the slot used to air Ramayana and my father used to see it. Now it is Balika Vadhu for him. The show is like a star in my profile to keep it simple. I too diligently watch the show.
What is it that you liked the most in Balika Vadhu?
The best aspect was the messages that used to come after every episode. There was a voice-over which used to be inspirational at the end of every episode. It was a unique thing to do on TV at that point on time. Whenever I listen to the theme song of Balika Vadhu, it takes me back in time and makes me nostalgic.
Balika Vadhu is a benchmark show that came to you as your first. Does this aspect force you to think twice about the roles you accept?
Yes, my first show was Balika Vadhu. So after going through that level of creativity, direction, homework and learning, I find it tough to pick up my next. After graduating from Balika Vadhu, I have always been choosy to pick roles. My fans, family and friends get upset when I take time to get back on screen. That’s the entire journey of me and nobody will understand what I go through. The quality I have seen is very tough to replicate and that’s the truth. So it always gets difficult when I choose new work for myself. In the last nine years, I have done only three shows with Balika Vadhu, Jaana Na Dil Se Door and Roop – Mard Ka Naya Swaroop and a film project.
How has your vision changed with Balika Vadhu?
When I came to Mumbai and started my career in acting, I wanted to make money and get rich. But when I got Balika Vadhu and started acting with actors like Surekhaji, I understood the seriousness of acting. I got to know that there is more to the craft than just earning money. Money, fame, autographs, houses, cars, fans and followers can come and go, but the first and foremost thing to focus on is the craft. Till date, I follow this ideology. I believe in chasing excellence and good work, and not money. If you succeed in this, the money will come to you.
Is there anything in you that has remained constant from the days of Balika Vadhu?
Of course!! The focus that I gained through my learning during the Balika Vadhu days will always be with me. You cannot just be in front of the camera just for the sake of being an actor and because you are a good-looking guy. You need to focus and have an internal journey to succeed.
Elaborate one memorable experience that made you better in your craft while shooting for Balika Vadhu?
I used to get a lot of scoldings during the initial days of Balika Vadhu. I used to hear comments like ‘Kaun hai yeh’, ‘kaha se aaya’, ‘he cannot speak one single line’ etc. I used to ask myself only one question as to why I am receiving so much flak. My mother’s blessings made me better in my craft. I used to keep my mouth shut, just observe senior actors, take the corrections in good stead. I told myself to improve on my skills. I understood I was putting in too much in order to prove myself. Instead, I realized to keep it calm and as natural as possible as an actor. From that phase, I walked all the way through to complete five years with the show. I will not forget the day when the Director asked me after shooting a scene, whether he should go ahead with the shot or I would want a retake of it. That has been my journey as an actor with the show.
So have you come across nostalgic comments, now that the show is being rerun?
Yes, we have a WhatsApp group of Balika Vadhu even now, which has all actors, directors, dialogue writers and team members. We have had quite a lot of nostalgic thoughts shared there. There were many pictures being shared, and we even had chats of how people look different now when compared to that time.
What is coming next for you as an actor?
TV show offers keep coming, but the point is that I have been shooting for my film for the last few months. We have shot it in London and have 20 per cent of it left. We had planned to shoot it, but the lockdown has stopped the plan as of now. So once the lockdown will end, my priority will be to finish shooting for the film.
Right now, it is about being at home, making video calls, talking to friends and dear ones, watching Balika Vadhu, and also writing short stories.