While most people are quick to lust after the glamour the profession of acting ostentatiously showcases, few choose to look at the hard work and toil demanded continuously and relentlessly from actors. The success stories are enviable and illustrious, but often, tales of glistening sweat and perseverance are left behind into the shadows cast by the bright shimmering glory of fame and adulation. The moments of thinning hope and mounting frustrations are as real as the moments of triumph and accolades. Gautam Rode is one such story. Success took it’s own sweet time to find it’s way to him and in the meanwhile he kept working hard, never losing hope. As much as he represents the charismatic allure of the industry ( thanks to his chiseled body and god gifted looks) , he also stands for the the other- less talked about- side of the job: That side which demonstrates that hard work has absolutely no substitute and faith never fails.
An actor who has been around for almost a decade, Gautam has emerged as one of the most loved faces on TV only recently, thanks to the immensely popular Saraswatichandra , the central character in the Star Plus show by the same name. Saras has somersaulted straight into the hearts all over the world since his conception on TV: And why not? He is sensitive to a fault, loves intensely and selflessly, can be the the proverbial knight in the shining armour in times of need & is simply a great guy to hang around with. But how often do we actually see the perfection from the pages transmitted onto the screen? Not often. A large part of the credit of making Saras so real and relatable goes to Gautam’s flawless portrayal. He makes him come alive on screen everyday with his subtle expressions, soulful eyes and impassioned face.
Enchanted by the character and moved by the toil that might have gone behind his portrayal, I caught up with this insanely busy guy and had a quick conversation. Read on to know his -straight from the heart- views on his work, his fame and his love for his fans.
D&D: You started your career as a TV model. what do you have to say about the present scenario concerning this particular profession?
GR: Unfortunately, TV modelling cannot be termed as an independent profession anymore. The scope for a model is pretty limited: Music videos don’t get made nowadays and the commercial space is dominated by actors, foreigners and cricketers. Today, if you are doing that kind of thing, it can at best be considered a ladder to another profession, which is acting, as it helps you get noticed and gives you an exposure to the cameras . But that’s that. As opposed to ramp modeling, which is getting huge day by day, TV modeling is almost dead.
D&D: Playing a character as intense as Saraswatichandra must get to you at some point. Do you find him taking you over outside your shooting hours ? Do you carry him back home in your thoughts?
GR: Well, In television we have to create 18-20 minutes of footage everyday, which means doing 8-10 scenes. (as opposed to 1-2 scenes per day in movies). That kind of work makes it mandatory for an actor to live his character. I have to get into the skin of Saras to live his emotions with him for 12-13 hours everyday. That is intense. But no, I do not carry him outside the sets. If I give a bad shot someday, then I do tend to think about it later in terms of how it could have been done in a better way.. but, touch wood, I have been lucky . Those bad days are rare..
D&D: Saraswatichandra is the pivotal character of the show. The show is named after him. Would you say it is a daring exception in an industry, which is generally seen as women- oriented ( most shows are made from a woman’s point of view , where women play the central character), or things are slowly changing in favor of the male actors?
GR: I played one other central character called Lucky in a series by the same name back in 2007 for StarPlus. It did not work as well. So it is definitely a good change that Saras, inspite of being a male central character, has appealed to all kinds of audiences. The love he gets is overwhelming. I think the idea of guys taking the center stage, is slowly being accepted, a fact which becomes more evident when you talk of shows like Devon ke Dev Mahadev or Madhubala. Also, as actors, today we have more genres to choose from: Mythology, fantasy, family shows, classic adaptations etc. So Indian TV is evolving that way and things are looking good for us.
GR: I like his intensity, his passion and his pure love for Kumud.These traits in him make it easy for me to play him as they are very identifiable. However, these same things make him tough to play at times too! For example, the last few episodes have been very emotional for him: There is a lot of crying and howling. Quite a few intense emotions to portray . Doing these scenes continuously makes you tired from inside. But all the trouble is forgotten, when I read messages and compliments about my work. The appreciation is what makes me feel content and happy. Everyone works for money, but being recognized and lauded for your work, is what makes it really worth it all at the end. The biggest let down for an actor is when he works long hours for 30 days a month but is not watched. In that way, Saraswatichandra has been a boon for me and I feel very thankful to everyone who watches it and gives me feedback.
D&D: So is he the most creatively satisfying role you have ever played?
GR: Well, as a complete package, I would say yes. But Lucky was a character I equally loved to play. Unfortunately, it lost out in terms of the reception it got. I feel very satisfied playing Saras, because he is being watched all over. I have been able to give this widely loved character a face, which is a huge achievement for an actor. On the other hand, doing Nach Baliye, which is another very popular show, I have also garnered a name for myself as Gautam Rode. So right now, I am getting to do the best of both fiction and the non fiction. As a TV actor, you can’t be in a better space than this and I am thankful to Starplus for giving me both the shows.
D&D: You talked about feeling truly satisfied when you hear good things from your audience. So let me ask you about the emerging trend of social networking, which lets you directly interact with your audience. As this is a scenario which is still new for the Indian TV industry, most actors are still getting used to it. How has your personal experience been in this regard, notably on Twitter?
GR: It’s been great. Starplus introduced me to Twitter back when I started doing the last season of Nach Baliye by getting an account made for me. When I actually started tweeting myself, honestly, the kind of response I got, was way beyond my comprehension and expectation. I think it’s an excellent medium to interact: The direct connection with your audience gives you a different kind of high. In one way, it’s very personal, at the same time, no one is interfering in your private space.For the initial two months, I tried to answer all questions and messages individually but after a while I couldn’t keep up with it. There are only limited hours in a day, you’ve got to work, work out, sleep , eat… there’s simply no time! I still try to stay connected by putting out a general tweet, which I don’t feel good about, as I would any day prefer to answer individually. But whenever I get some time, I try to catch up.
D&D: Do you think good looking actors have to face a bias regarding 1) roles being offered to them . 2) their acting skills, i.e, people tend not to look beyond the outer appearance?
GR: I don’t think so. The messages and tweets I get are mostly performance oriented. Scenes are discussed. The dialogues are recited word to word. The audience involvement with my every day performance is mind boggling. It motivates me all the more. Regarding roles being offered, I think it depends on the way you choose to maintain your personality. If you are a body builder you automatically limit yourself to certain roles. I mean, if you have a maintained a huge body frame which dominates your personality even in a normal everyday shirt, it’s natural to assume you can’t play a middle class office going normal guy. Having said that, looks can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. depending on the circumstances. But that stands true for everything. A guy who is not considered conventionally good looking may miss out on some roles as well. But everybody’s definition of beauty is personal. At the end it all depends on how you carry yourself and how you maintain you personality..
GR: What I have learnt from experience is that though luck is very important, there is no substitute for hard work. Not losing hope is crucial to success. If you know you have it in you, you should keep working, come what may. If you don’t give up through moments of struggle, whatever your goal is, God will see that you get it. I would like to think I am a living example. If you look at my career graph, I have had my share of hardships and it is only since last year, that recognition and adulation have started coming my way. Another important thing is to sense the timing. You have to be sensible enough to make the right decisions at the right time. For example, if you are not ready for doing films and you do it, you have to realize the failure resulted because of wrong timing and not because you didn’t have it in you. Believe in yourself and give your all to your work. The industry is full of examples of late bloomers: Saif, Arjun, Akshay..
D&D: What would you like to say to your fans, friends and admirers who are reading this interview?
GR: I work for you. Your feedback and appreciation is the fuel which runs my work engine. You give me the strength to work 30 days a month and still give every shot my best shot. When I read your FB messages, tweets or letters bout my work I feel alive and rejuvenated. It keeps me going. To me,the only thing that matters is to not let you down in any damn manner. I truly love you all and I am honestly overwhelmed with all the love. Thank you so much for watching my work. I will keep entertaining you to the best of my ability. God bless you guys.
Photo credit: Gautam Rode
Please don’t forget to read the witty Rapid Fire with Gautam here: http://dramasanddreams.com/2013/11/15/rapid-fire-with-gautam-rode/
- Gautam Rode prefers acting to hosting (vancouverdesi.com)
- Nach Baliye 6 – Hosted by Gautam Rode (Saraswatichandra) (teamgautamrode.wordpress.com)
- TeamGAUTAM Website Launch Pic Of Gautam Rode (teamgautamrode.wordpress.com)
- Drama reaches its peak in Star Plus’ Saraswatichandra (myfunzones.wordpress.com)