tv & movies

‘Biggest challenge for any actor who come from outside is…’

‘…is to crack the first project.’
‘If you become popular from that, it’s a win-win.’

Even with his limited body of work, Priyanshu Painyuli has positioned himself as an exciting new talent.

Be it the shy Robin in Mirzapur 2 or a supportive husband in Rashmi Rocket or an evil drug lord in the Chris Hemsworth-starrer Extraction, the actor has left an impact on audiences.

He is currently super excited about his collaboration with Vishal Bhardwaj on his new show Charlie Chopra & The Mystery of Solang Valley.

“Doing Extraction made me feel like, ‘Oh, now I have people who know me in different countries.’ I get fan messages from Spain, Mexico and the US. I have got stopped at immigration and asked, ‘Are you that Amir Asif (from Extraction)? I had not expected that so early in my career, but that’s what OTT does,” Priyanshu tells Mayur Sanap/ “He’s got so much happening in his head, but has this calm and soothing personality.”

How did you get on board for Charlie Chopra?

Getting the opportunity to work with Vishal Bhardwaj sir was a dream come true moment for me.

I have been watching his cinema since my school and college days.

When I started acting in theatre, I thought if I get to work with him, that would be great.

He is like a one man army, with the kind of writing, music and everything that he does.

This is an Agatha Christie adaptation, and I am sharing screen space with this wonderful ensemble of Naseer (Naseeruddin Shah) sir, Ratna (Pathak Shah) ma’am, Neena (Gupta) ma’am, Gulshan Grover sir, Lara Dutta, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Paoli Dam, Wamiqa (Gabbi).

I play Sitaram Bisht, who is so colourful. There are so many shades to him.

Were you nervous about working alongside such legendary actors?

You feel nervous on Day One or Two.

It was fascinating to see Gulshan Grover sir, he is such a beautiful human being. When you meet him, you realise he is not the ‘bad man’ he always projected on screen (Laughs).

Neena Gupta is such a warm person. She cooked food for us when we were in Manali.

I remember being very nervous with Naseer sir when I had a scene with him.

But all the senior actors were just so warm and cordial, and made you feel so comfortable.

What did you learn from Vishal Bhardwaj?

I have been a fan of him always. With him, I realised that you don’t have to prepare a lot.

As actors, we do a lot of workshops, lots of technical learning and read books about acting.

When we prepare so much, we’re not allowing ourselves to blend in with what the director is saying or what’s happening with the other co-actors or just the environment around us.

This time I played a different ballgame.

I just got my character, accent, speech and the dialogue right, and just followed what Vishal sir was saying.

He is a genius, doing small things that really add to the scenes.

I told him I am very jealous of the way he thinks. He’s got so much happening in his head, but has this calm and soothing personality.

The show goes with a tagline, ‘Everybody has a secret’ Tell us Priyanshu’s secret.

This is not a secret, but yeah, I love sleeping and can sleep anywhere, anytime, be it in a bus, train or an auditorium! (Laughs)

Even if there’s noise outside, I can pass out for 20 minutes.

You are an outsider and slowly carved a space for yourself in the industry. Did you have it tough all these years?

The biggest challenge for any actor, especially for those who come from outside, is to crack the first project.

If you become popular from that, it’s a win-win. But it comes with a lot of luck and many things together.

After Bhavesh Joshi, every step took me to the next one. And at every level, the challenges keep increasing. There is a certain level of pressure but I want to take it easy.

I came here with an intention of why I want to do this, and I want to stay here for longer.

I am happy with roles offered to me, and audiences have loved my work in Rashmi Rocket, U-Turn... So I think I am on the right path.

With Extraction, I want to explore internationally.

Here, I would like to do a commercial masala film or a rom-com.

How did Extraction benefit you in terms of work opportunities?

Doing Extraction made me feel like, ‘Oh, now I have people who know me in different countries.’

I get fan messages from Spain, Mexico and the US. I had not expected that so early in my career, but that’s what OTT does.

You’re expanding your wings to many, many, countries.

As a Netflix film, Extraction was one of the highest viewed films at that time.

I had a lovely experience when I went to Spain this year. I was in a small town, and this guard of a restaurant walks up to me and speaks in broken English, then shows me my photograph from Google.

He recognised me as an actor from India, and I was confused about what (film) he saw me in.

That recognition really feels good. It also means that you have played the part strongly so that other people remember you.

I have got stopped at immigration (in airports), and asked, ‘Are you that Amir Asif (from Extraction)?’ And I said, ‘Oh yes.’ (Laughs)

Tell us what’s happening with your next project, Pippa.

I have little idea about it because I am busy shooting back-to-back projects.

Last heard, it was still stuck in post-production. They are still cooking it because it is a very special film.

It features war sequences that I haven’t seen before here.

The story is about three siblings: Ishaan (Khatter), Mrunal (Thakur) and me. It is going to be a special film.

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