Gurmeet Choudhary started his acting career when he was 17 years old. Hailing from an army background, however, was a deterrent for him, as entering the field of acting was not well encouraged. But Gurmeet had eyes only in acting career and despite not finding the support he needed, Gurmeet decided to choose acting as his career. He began with the television, using it as a stepping stone. At an event held at Mumbai recently, the actor opened out to us about his life and passions.
Though not from a filmy background, Gurmeet was always confident of achieving his dreams. He left home in 2003, hoping to pursue a crash course, in acting, in Mumbai. He then went on to model in ads and made cameo appearances in prime-time and regional television. In fact, his portrayals of a negative character in Mayavi, a 3-D Tamil show in 2006, won him much appreciation. Then, in 2008, he managed to grab the lead role of Lord Rama in the TV series Ramayana, for which he also won the ‘Most Promising New Talent of Tomorrow Award’. On the sets of the Ramayana, Gurmeet met his wife Debina Bonnerjee. The love was almost instant, and the two got married in a private ceremony on 15 February 2011. “It’s been about five years now, but nothing has changed in our relationship. We are still the same old buddies, still fighting over petty matters,” says Gurmeet with chuckle. Gurmeet has worked hard, giving compelling performances in both Geet Hui Sabse Parayi (as Maan Singh Khurana) and Punar Vivah (as Yash Suraj Pratap Sindhia), shows that made him a household name. He also stood out in many reality series on television, finishing as the winner in Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa Season 5, and the runner-up for Nach Baliye 6 and Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi Season 5. He was the second runner-up in the reality show I can do that. The actor got his first big Bollywood break when Mahesh Bhatt offered him the lead role in his production Khamoshiyan.
THE LEARNING CURVE
Gurmeet looks back on how much he used to yearn to become an actor. “When I was in Class 1, my class teacher asked all of us in the lass about our career aspirations, and I stood up and announced that I wanted to be a hero,” reminisces the actor with a smile. “So I really began dreaming of becoming an actor from a very young age. Of course, today I am proud that I was able to achieve that childhood dream especially because I was not one of those kids who got his parents’ support to realise my career aspirations.” But Gurmeet knew even back then that a daring pursuance of his dreams was not sufficient to realize his goal. “I began by trying to understand the technicalities of facing the camera, even as I learnt to polish my acting skills,” says Gurmeet. His learning pads were small TV roles and ad films. “While I wanted to lap up all the opportunities coming my way, I also knew I had to learn as much as I could from these small roles because it was possible that my lack of experience could lead to failure in the long run. So I decided to begin with small roles or just one episode in any of the ongoing popular soap operas.” And those cameo appearances paid off for Gurmeet and helped him sharpen his craft, especially in Bollywood. When he talks of his success and popularity, Gurmeet is rather certain who he owes it to. “I had once met the legendary director/ producer, late Yash Chopraji when he was shooting for Veer Zaara,” says Gurmeet. “It was he who guided me at a time when I really need it and helped me chart my path. To begin with, he had predicted how big television would grow in the next four years. ‘If you manage to become a superstar on TV, then you will automatically get film offers,’ he had told me. I took his advice and put my heart and soul in TV. Luckily, I began getting noticed by film producers and was signed up for films.”
LUCKY BY CHOICE
Gurmeet has been choosy about the movies he wanted to be a part of. “Though I kept getting many offers while doing television, I was certain I wanted to start off with a big banner,” he says. “So even if I may have had 10 highly remunerative projects at hand, I chose only one among them. I am seriously hoping that selectiveness will help my career graph the way I’d like it to.” Gurmeet got his first big break— just as he had wished for—through Khamoshiyan, a film produced by Mahesh Bhatt and directed by Karan Darra, under the banner of Vishesh Films. The film soon earned him the fascination of girls all over the nation, who were swooning over his chiselled body. “I think playing Jaidev Dhanrajgir in Khamoshiyan came extremely naturally to me,” Gurmeet says. “I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working in the film and was thrilled when Bhatt sahib told me how impressed he was that I had done my homework before delivering my shots. For instance, my role in the movie had a couple of scenes with me on a wheel chair. To get into the skin of the character I had actually bought a wheel chair. I also worked on my looks, costumes and body language for the scenes.”
When it comes to television, Gurmeet says he prefers doing reality shows over daily soap operas. “The TV series have engaged a lot of female audience, but reality shows also attract young male viewers,” he explains. “Also, I prefer doing shows where I am able to learn something new and exhibit my talent. As an actor, I want all age-groups to recognise me. To this end, reality shows help me engage with a larger audience.” And the actor loves to experiment. “All my shows on television have been different from each other,” says Gurmeet. “I have also made drastic changes in my looks for all my characters. I want to offer variety to my audience.” However, Gurmeet’s priority now is to gain experience in the film industry. “I believe it’s the right time for me to experiment and learn, and I am ready to lap up anything nice that comes my way,” he says. “That being said, going by the reality dance shows I have been on, I think I can safely assume that I can dance. I have a black belt in martial arts, so I am sure I can perform well as an action hero. And then I have been blessed with a lot of love for my portrayals as a romantic hero as well as an angry young man. So, I would ideally want to do commercial films where I am able to utilise all my qualities.” In fact, the fit actor works on his body, diet and looks to perfectly fit the character he plays. “Even if I am shooting round the clock, I try to squeeze half an hour from my busy schedule for a workout,” he adds.
NEVER SAY NEVER
So are the rumours about his returning to television true? “At the moment, I won’t say that I will never work for TV in future,” he clarifies. “My TV audiences have given me all the recognition that helped me reach where I am today. It would be tough to take time out for a soap opera, but other than that, I would definitely continue doing something interesting for the audience.” The actor, who was recently seen in a reality TV show I Can Do That, the Indian adaptation of an American small screen series of the same name, shared screen space with the likes of Farhan Akhtar and other celebrities from different walks of life. “It’s the best reality show I have done so far. However, it was also challenging because it came when I was shooting outdoors for another forthcoming film. So the crew of this show had to come on my sets to teach me the acts I had to perform,” says the actor. “It was hectic, but interesting as I got to learn something new.” As for competition, Gurmeet believes in working and competing with oneself. “When you do that, you don’t think about the rest of the world. In our industry, we have huge actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan and others who we learn and get inspired from,” he says. “That being said, I’m not into any kind of competition. I only rely on my passion to grow better and deliver quality work to my audience.”
My fitness regime: Gymnastics (one hour) and kick-boxing (two hours) every day.
My favourite piece of clothing in my wardrobe: Track pants with plain tees
Comfort food: Sushi
Where I see myself in the next five years: In a sea-facing bungalow, and being counted amongst the top five superstars
My secret for healthy living: Following a good diet
I’m waiting to work with: Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Deepika Padukone
My free-time indulgence: Watching motivational videos of martial arts, gymnastics, etc.
Three things I can’t live without: My family, Debina and workout
My favourite sports person: Sachin Tendulkar