As “Issaq” hits theatres, actor Prateik talks about his character and what went into its making

Bollywood, it seems, can’t get enough of Romeo and Juliet. Although adapted as recently as Ishaqzaade last year, it hasn’t stopped director Manish Tiwary from trying his hand at the story of the tragic lovers. The film, which released this Friday, stars Prateik and newcomer Amyra Dastur in the leading roles and is set in Varanasi.

Prateik, who began on a high with critically acclaimed, albeit supporting, roles in Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na and Dhobi Ghat, has received a lukewarm response to his turn as lone hero in films like My Friend Pinto and Ekk Deewana Tha. “Ups and downs come and go, but if you just love your job I don’t think you worry too much about results,” says a fidgety Prateik.

He hopes Issaq will turn things around. “I play Romeo. My character’s name is Rahul Mishra, he is a Banarasi gunda and his family runs the sand mining mafia. He is the son of the family, and so had to pick up guns and violence at a very young age. And since a very young age he has had a love-hate relationship with his dad, which is the source of a lot of anger in him…He is a womaniser as well, and suddenly Juliet (Bachchi, played by Amyra Dastur) comes into his life. She belongs to a rival gangster family as well,” he says.

To prepare for the role, he spent “three to four months working on getting the Banarasi dialect and diction. Since its Romeo and Juliet, we also had to work a lot on the chemistry as well.”

Additionally, Prateik took lessons in parkour for the agility that the character demanded. “I needed to look like a one man army, so I took the suggestion to the director and we built my body in a certain way,” he adds.

The director’s follow-up effort to Dil Dosti Etc adds a few more characters to the already populous cast of the original play. Apart from Prateik and Amyra, the film features Prashant Narayanan as a Naxal leader; Ravi Kishan and Makrand Deshpande also have prominent roles.

Prateik is impressed with the director’s handling of the play. “I’ve watched his work earlier; also, he is a Cambridge pass-out. So his intellect level is pretty high, and he’s got amazing vision. I think if you are in the hands of someone like that, you feel kind of safe. He came up with the script, I didn’t want to think too much into it. I read it, I liked the twists he put into the story and the characters and I just wanted to get on with it as soon as I could.”

Prateik’s next is a psychological thriller. “It’s something I’ve never done before, so I am very excited about it. I am content crazy and just trying to explore myself as an actor as much as I can.”