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Aakash Dahiya of Delhi Crime 2: “Audiences are upset with the character that I play, but happy with

This interview was first published in Cine Blitz by the same author.


Actor AAKASH DAHIYA, best known for his role of Googly in Chillar Party (2011) is getting interesting reviews for his latest release Delhi Crime 2 in which he plays a grey character. Aakash in an exclusive candid conversation with SAMEER SALUNKHE talks about his journey from doing theatre in Delhi to becoming part of an Emmy Award Winning series.


How are the audiences responding to Delhi Crime 2 and your character in it?


Well, the response to the series has been really good. People that I know have liked the series and I have been receiving messages on my social media accounts as well. As far as my character in the series is concerned, the response has been a mix of love-hate. People are upset about why Devinder is troubling Neeti (Rasika Dugal) so much. But they have liked my performances as an actor.


Which is a good place to be in as an actor, no?


Yes. Because characters that are only good are not interesting to play or watch. Flawed characters are exciting to play and watch. I am happy that I’ve been able to project what the writers had written for the character of Devinder.


Delhi Crime season 1 only showed glimpses of Devinder and Neeti’s relationship. How is the relationship explored in season 2?


In the first season, we had only two scenes together. In the first scene, Neeti and Devinder meet at a park as set up by their families for arranged marriage. Devinder is from the Indian Army and Neeti is from Delhi Police. She asks him what he wants to know about her to which he says nothing. She says that she doesn’t know anything about him. To which he says that they are going to spend their life together so there’s plenty of time to know each other.

In the second scene, Devinder asks Neeti why she was not picking up the call. She says that she couldn’t pick up because she was busy at work. So, there were glimpses that this might become a turbulent relationship.


How did you get this role?


I have known the series creator Richie Mehta for a long time since he made a film titled Siddharth (2013). I did casting for that film. The shoot was almost over. And around that time protests were happening seeking justice in Nirbhaya Rape Case. I was involved in those protests and candle marches. One day, Richie also came along with me. And three years later, I got a call from him saying, “I’m making a series titled Delhi Crime and I want you to play a role in one of the sub-plots.”


Richie gave me a thread about what he wanted to say about the reasons behind this relationship falling apart. He didn’t ask me for an audition. I think he had already decided that he wanted me to play Devinder.


You mentioned casting. Did you enter this industry as a casting director?


I come from Delhi. I did theatre for 7 years in Delhi before I came to Mumbai. My Guru is Surender Sharma Ji. Mukesh Bhai (casting director Mukesh Chhabra) was also in his group. So, we both knew each other. Mukesh Bhai’s first film was also with Richie, titled Amal (2007) starring Naseeruddin Shah.


Mukesh Bhai got the casting job for Bobby Bedi’s Mahabharat. He asked me, “Casting karoge?” I asked, “Paise aayenge?” You know, because our families want to see us earning some money from the work that we do. He said, “Paise dheere-dheere aayenge.” So, that’s how casting started. Then we moved to Mumbai. We did casting for films like Gangs of Wasseypur, Chillar Party, Rockstar and Highway. While casting, I got opportunities to act as well.


Did your role in Chillar Party give you visibility? Because that film got a lot of appreciation.


I got a lot of visibility because of Chillar Party. Chillar Party for the kids of that generation is what Mr. India is to our generation. Many youngsters who watched that film when they were kids still call me Googly when they spot me.


Are you focused on acting only or do you still do casting?


I haven’t done casting for the past 4-5 years. But because Mukesh and I are friends, I visit his office sometimes. It is a lovely process to grow as an actor too. Because when I go there, the casting assistants ask me if I know any actor that would fit for the roles they’re casting for. I give them recommendations. If I come across a promising actor, I make sure that I recommend him/her to my friends who are casting directors. But mostly, these days I have been writing and acting.


How has life changed from the time you entered this industry to now?


I think I have become a bit lazy. I guess when you get some comfort, that junoon of being a go-getter fades out a little. You know, when you’re doing theatre in the early days, you want to do everything. Later on, you start to take it easy.


Other than that, there’s been a drastic change. Back then, Mukesh, I and some other guys would stay together in a small room with the hope that somehow, we will be able to achieve our goals. Now, I live on my own in a 2BHK flat. That comfort feels good. And when a project like Delhi Crime comes your way, you get up again, breaking the shackles of laziness and go back to work. You need to get that junoon back and give your everything, otherwise your performance will look incomplete on screen.


You mentioned that you write. A writer and an actor are working 24×7. So, what is your process when you’re not facing the camera?


Dimaag toh chalta rehta hai. I meet people. I observe people. I watch a lot of interviews. The stories emerge from your surroundings only. I keep making notes. I try to know more about the subjects that I am planning to write about.


In the social media age where everyone is trying to promote themselves, how do you use social media as a tool?


I like to express what I am feeling or thinking, whether it’s a photograph or a thought that I post on social media. But then my well-wishers from the industry suggest that I should be and should not be posting certain things because I am an actor. They suggest that I post more about the films and series that I am doing. Toh bada asamanjas sa feel hota hai. I am a human being before I am an actor or anything else.


You see, earlier when there was no social media or technology, whatever people thought or felt, they’d write it down on a piece of paper and the generations that followed, read it. The literature written centuries ago is still being read. But in today’s times, you have to go according to the algorithms of social media apps. Because the Janata is there, and their thinking is varied. You have to be mindful of that. I’m still trying to figure out social media. But one thing is sure I won’t change the person that I am just to ‘fit in’.


What can you share about your upcoming releases?


I have recently played a character named Kisna in a yet untitled series. It was a challenging part for me to play and grow as an actor with an ensemble cast of dhurandhar actors and director Raaj Amit Kumar. It is the most fulfilling acting experience that I have ever had.

In another series titled Dhanbaad, I am playing a Sutradhar of the story. I had a lot of fun playing that character as the story navigates through him. I am currently shooting for a series titled Rafoo Chakkar. I’m playing a lawyer in that series. It was tough to get the mannerisms and technicalities of acting in a courtroom drama. But it was great fun.


What type of roles do you want to play in the future?


I want to play all sorts of roles. The only condition that I have is that the story should mean something. I would love to do commercials films too. But I’m more inclined towards subject-oriented films/series. I’ll tell you one incident about Irrfan Bhai (late actor Irrfan Khan). Once, Irrfan Bhai, actor Jaideep Ahlawat and I were shooting somewhere. Irrfan Bhai kept his arms on our shoulders and said, “A story is like a mother who gives birth to its characters.” His eyes turned moist while saying that. I have always kept that moment in my mind, and I try to be part of stories that have something to say.

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