About Gaurav Paswala
How many times will you meet someone working in films and is someone you often see on TV to be like the friend you hang out with at 2 in the morning, talking about life and just being yourself? We’re guessing not many and that too is a lot. But City Tadka had a contradictory experience while chatting up with the budding face in Bollywood and Gujarati Film Industry and star of the hit Gujarati film Je Pan Kahish E Sachuj Kahish – Gaurav Paswala. The conversation flew by effortless and interesting and we managed to get some tidbits from his life to share with our audience.
A total Surti of course, tell us how was your childhood and how was growing up in Surat?
Yes of course, a total Surti sans the gaalis, it was as normal as of any other average guy in the city. Eventful school life in Shardayatan & TNTV, an interesting college life in SPB, playing cricket whenever we could and spending time on video games whenever I could. So yes, as ordinary as it gets. The only thing different was that I was an extremely shy kid. I couldn’t speak to a large number of people and you would be my enemy if you put me in the spotlight where everyone would just stare at me. Of course I have overcome that to quite an extent but I still am fundamentally a quiet guy who likes to keep to himself and not be the talk of the party. And it works for me, so that’s alright I guess. Something that still keeps me sane.
As normal as it gets we assess. So how did acting come into the picture?
Growing up, it sure was a passing thought but obviously growing up in a typical middle-class Gujarati family, your parents wouldn’t even take you seriously if you mentioned something unconventional like that. Which is what happened. I mean, even when I asked them seriously they made me ask an astrologer and of course, he said I would get into the business of iron. (unanimous chuckling)
Acting came to me after I moved to Sydney to pursue my masters. Did some work in accounting and advertising but I guess I always felt that I was meant for something else. That’s how acting started. I joined an acting school in Sydney, started to see that shape up within me and decided that this is what I am meant for. And that’s how it all began.
“If you are on one branch, you have to leave that branch to get to the other one. You cannot hang onto both.”
Tell us about your experiences after you moved to Mumbai. How was the infamous “struggle” before getting the big break?
Moving to Mumbai was probably one of the hardest times of my life. I mean I am not even kidding, I am scared of people in Mumbai. I mean don’t get me wrong, I love the city and am grateful for everything it has given me, but at the same time I am terrified of it. Especially in a field like this. I mean I always say – Acting can either make you or break you. And I am glad I am going strong even now.
But yes definitely, a whole lot of struggle, going broke multiple times – even after I started getting good work, staying in a place shared with more than 10 guys – so yes, I have been through all that. I mean I have even served tea and biscuits to people while I did theatre work in the city, where I never even got paid for the work I did – I mean 200 rupees for a play after almost a year worth of work. So yeah, no smooth road was paved for me. Have been to hundreds of auditions and doing ads here and there, especially after I moved to Mumbai to seriously pursue acting after I went to Sydney again and somehow tried to survive before the big break actually happened.
All these things definitely take a toll on you. How did you go through that phase?
Yes, of course it does. You start hating your life and yourself. Start to question yourself and get into a bad phase. Went through a lot of stuff emotionally as well. One good thing that came out of it was that I was supposed to go back to Sydney as my residency was expiring and a friend helped me get in touch with a radio station in Sydney. And I am so glad I did as I got a job of RJing there. I mean you can imagine the joy – for a guy who has studied in Gujarati Medium to get a job in the biggest Hindi Radio Station in Australia. I was over the moon. After a long time of self-doubt and ill-treatment, getting something like that surely was a breath of fresh air.
And the big break finally happened. Tell us about that
I would give the credit of that to my decision of leaving my comfort zone. Being in Sydney was comfortable, but I knew I had to leave this branch to hop onto the other one. And that’s how I decided to get back to Mumbai. Again in that practical, maniacal life. And one day, it changed. I have always gotten by with random opportunities flowing in and never had a set plan and the same thing happened here. I tagged along with a friend for his audition as we were going to go for lunch later and bagged the role myself. Opportunities have flown in from unexpected directions and life has been taking turns in unknown directions on its own. And that’s how I got 6-5=2.
What an interesting story that is. Ups and Downs have been your everyday company. But it’s great to see you’ve flourished in the way you have. Tell us your experience of Je Pan Kahish E Sachuj Kahish
Gujarati films were not in the picture at all when I started this. This was only possible because of Naitik Raval, who has directed the film. He is a good friend and we share a similar thinking so I could connect with him and he could understand my point of view. This film especially appealed to me because it gave me an opportunity to present a modern-age average, Gujarati guy who is smart, funny in the right places and just a normal guy and not like how Gujarati guys are typically presented in Gujarati films. I kind of felt like a moral obligation to do this part right. I hate that Gujarati guys are portrayed in a wrong way when we are so much more than that. That’s the reason why I did this film and the fact that Naitik understood this.
It was a great experience altogether. We had a great cast and crew, all hard working and a lot of fun to work with. And when we got the great responses that we did, it obviously felt great. And we were nominated for some categories in Gujarati Iconic Film Awards and won the Best Film Jury Award – so pretty excited about that.
“Don’t take Surat for granted. You don’t know the value of it until you leave it.”
It’s so good to see this coming-of-age mentality and the fact that a lot of actors are now looking at it in a modern way. So tell us about your future projects. Any interesting work coming up?
Yes. I have a film coming up with Mudassar Aziz and has Aftab Shivdasani and Zarina Wahab in the cast. It would be out in 2017 and another movie coming out which is right now in the editing process. I also have a Hollywood movie coming up where I will be sharing the screen with Dev Patel, Anupam Kher and Armie Hammer. So pretty excited for that. That one will also be coming out sometime in 2017. Lots of interesting work coming my way it’s a good time in my life. Looking forward to the year.
And tell us about how your life has changed after all this and how you handle attention – especially female attention.
It’s very easy getting carried away, so I make it a point to never treat anyone bad or have people treat me special just because I am an actor. Everyone is equal and the fact that I am an actor does not make me superior to anyone. Fame is just the byproduct of my job. But like everyone’s work, it’s my work. And to answer your question, yes there’s some attention (saying it as coyly as he could) from females and a few males. I just am polite and grateful towards whatever they have to say and that’s about it.
Tell us a bit about your family and your life now in Surat. Your memories of this place and your special moments with Surti Food.
My mum – Oh she has been my biggest support. And whenever I am out of Surat, I miss it terribly. Whenever I come here, I get excited when the station is about to arrive. Being a Surti, food comes hand in hand. Memories of Sainath Dosa, Lochas and Center Point’s sandwich come to mind right now. Deep down I am still that fat boy inside. I snack on it sometimes but you can’t afford food like this everyday being in the field I am in. I love tea a lot and never thought I would be into this lifestyle and now I drink Black Coffee like it’s nothing.
And of course when you live alone, you know the value of your home and your family and now I feel a lot more loving and attached towards them. I have a few close friends and that’s who I hang out with. I make sure that my life here is as normal as it was back then.
Your parting thoughts? Tell us who is Gaurav Paswala if we haven’t managed to know that from our conversation. And your message to the people reading this.
No parting thoughts as such. It’s great to have spoken to you guys and all the conversation we had. I really like name City Tadka – it is very catchy and interesting. And to answer your question, well, Gaurav is your boy next door kinda guy, the most non-actor actor you will find, a shy guy – I mean shy enough that I never even had the courage to talk to my childhood crush who was in my school, I could never find the courage to tell her I liked her. (saying in a bemused tone) So yeah, basically just a normal guy. And my message to everyone would be to make sure you complete your education and take a whole lot of world experience before you get into anything. It has helped me in my life and will surely help everyone. And yaar, nothing else. Surat is the best city and Surtis are definitely the best. I don’t need to tell them anything. Just keep the city clean and don’t take it for granted. You’ll know its value when you leave it.
What a wonderful time we had discussing his journey and his life! An absolute delight to talk to and someone who we surely know will make it big. City Tadka wishes Mr Paswala all the happiness and success in life and hopes he gets where he wants to and comes sees us soon again.
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