The start-up people: on 'Upstarts', the recent Netflix release

Priyanshu Painyuli on bringing to life the crazy energy that drives this world, in his latest Netflix film

October 18, 2019 02:36 pm | Updated 03:02 pm IST

Straight out of college, Priyanshu Painyuli got his first taste of ‘start-up culture’ when he founded Capture Crew Productions in Bengaluru with five friends. While he moved out of the business to pursue a career in acting soon after, the experience of kick-starting the production house came in handy when Netflix offered him the recently-released, Upstarts .

Directed by Udai Singh Pawar, the film — also starring Eijaaz Khan, Sheetal Thakur, Rajeev Siddhartha and Swati Semwal — charts the journey of three friends who want to set up a company that helps change the world. Painyuli plays Kapil, a young man from a small town who volunteers at an NGO on weekends. Along with his friends Yash (Chandrachoor Raj) and Vinay (Shadab Kamal), Kapil starts a company to deliver medicines to those in need. “It is a rag-to-riches story, but with many struggles. Even as their company fails and succeeds, there are disagreements on how to run a multimillion dollar company,” says Painyuli.

Bollywood dreams

Though he had an idea of how the start-up ecosystem works, once the actor signed up for the role, he met with CEOs of companies like Ola and Urban Ladder, and entrepreneurs whose companies went bust, to understand what drives them. “The one thing that’s common to both those who made it and those who didn’t, was their go-getting attitude. The energy you experience in that world is crazy. Even if the world doesn’t believe in you, you have to keep believing in yourself and your idea.”

For Painyuli, 30, the struggle to find a foothold in Bollywood is not very different from the start-up world. “Entrepreneurs keep falling down, getting up and trying again, which is what happens with actors as well,” says the Bhavesh Joshi Superhero actor who prefers using the word ‘process’ to describe his journey in Bollywood, rather than ‘struggle’. Born in Bengaluru (into an Army family), his parents thought he would be keen on the IT industry. But he fell in love with performing at a young age. “During my years at the Army Public School and then at Christ College, I was more interested in dance and drama. Post college, I joined SAE (School of Audio Engineering) to study digital filmmaking and then moved to Mumbai,” explains the actor, who has worked on Rajit Kapoor’s theatre productions and Vaibhavi Merchant’s musical extravaganza, Taj Express .

Career breakthrough

After small roles in films like Rock On 2 and a Pepsi commercial with MS Dhoni, Painyuli’s big screen breakthrough came in 2018 with director Vikramaditya Motwane’s vigilante thriller, Bhavesh Joshi . The film didn’t make much of a dent at the box office but received rave reviews and ever since, he has directed and starred in the short film He & She , and has also been a part of the web show, Soulmates (Season 2). “My mantra is ‘whether it’s small or big, just keep doing something content driven that people will watch and like’.” It is clearly serving him well.

Upstarts is now streaming on Netflix

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