The Kanpur born Gaurav Bajaj speaks to Madhur Tankha about how his hard work in the advertisement world paid dividends

He might be making fleeting appearances in television advertisements but Gaurav Bajaj has become a celebrity in his 60 seconds of fame. Now the 20-plus artiste is all set to make his first appearance on the big screen in a Bollywood film.

The Kanpur born and brought up lad says people have preconceived notion that parents in small towns are conservative. “My middle class parents didn’t stand in my way of trying my luck in the film industry. I realised my true calling when an acquaintance appeared in a commercial. In 2005 I started off my career in modelling in ads as it was seen as a fast track to get into Bollywood. It increased my job profile. My interest in commercials grew gradually and I realised that ads were getting me recognition from Bollywood directors on the look out for new faces.”

All the hard work in the advertisement world paid dividends when Gaurav got selected to play a meaningful role in “Kirkit”. The youngster’s talent was noticed by Southern music director Shashi Preetam who thought he fitted the bill for a character in his film.

“Revolving around a group of youngsters who decide to settle their differences with a cricket match, the film is a satirical view on how the common man is getting cheated in the name of business ventures. I am playing Salim, a short-tempered Hyderabadi brat, who thinks no end of himself. He wants to get into property and real estate business. Being an incorrigible liar, he fools people by claiming that he is a descendant of a famous Nawab family.”

Contrary to his nature in real life, Gaurav enjoyed playing the reel character as it challenged his acting skills and gave him a chance to stand out among the vast star cast. “The film is about to release this June and would be his debut film. In Hyderabad, I visited Charminar and Irani cafes to observe people, their mannerisms, body language and how they conversed with one another. Besides keenly noticing their dress style, I even interacted with some of them and jotted down their phone numbers. Later, I conversed with them in Hyderabadi accent on the phone to improve my diction.” To get into the skin of his character, Gaurav religiously attended a weeklong workshop in the Southern city. “Finally my Hyderabadi accent improved by leaps and bounds.” Shedding light on his off-screen chemistry with the evergreen Jackie Shroff in the film, the young actor says it was a learning experience as Jaggu Dada is a chilled out guy on the sets. “Jackie never threw starry tantrums on the sets. He was always willing to lend us a helping hand if we faced problems over certain scenes. Despite being such a big star he continues to remain down to earth. Other stars include Sanjay Kapoor, Gulshan Grover and Johnny Lever.” This fledgling actor sees his mentor in superstar Shah Rukh Khan and feels to accomplish so much in such a small time for the superstar was truly extraordinary. “It is a feat I hope to achieve some day. Shah Rukh is the most convincing in today’s generation of actors. I hold him in high esteem because of his mastery over his craft. Even if I can achieve 20 per cent of his potential then I will be able to make it in the industry. Although films with romantic genre suit him, he showed that he can ever do justice in a serious role in ‘Chak De’. In ‘Darr’ he played an obsessed lover. The mark of a good actor is to make you believe in make-believe.” I even appeared in a video song “Aawan Ni Aawan,” adds Gaurav, who also featured in a video album of UK-based singer Jassi Sidhu.

Shedding light on his other upcoming film “Phir Kabhi”, Gaurav it is about moral values. “It shows how three generation of couples treat each other. Scheduled to release later this year, the film stars Dimple Kapadia, Mithun Chakraborty, Gulshan Grover and Neha Jhulka. In this film I am playing the lead role,” says Gaurav, who has done a number of commercials with Bollywood filmmakers like Pradeep Sarkar and Shaad Ali. Gaurav’s other projects include Fox Star Studio India’s “Vroom” and a film directed by Savon Tascano, who was the chief assistant director to Sanjay Gadhvi, of “Dhoom” fame.