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“It is not possible to make a living out of doing theatre” – Raaghav Chanana

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As an actor and a director, Raaghav Chanana has expressed his creativity on different mediums. After being a part of several prestigious theatre productions and playing a pivotal role in ’24: India’, the TV show, he is all set to explore the big screen with his new film ‘M Cream’. In this interview, the actor talks about his upcoming release, the difference between theatre and films, interest in direction and his role in the soon-to-be-aired ’24: India – Season 2′.

Tell us something about your character in the film ‘M Cream’.
I play a character called Niz. He is a photographer. The character was described to me by Agneya (Singh, director) as someone who stays in the college for a longer period than he has to. He is a very chilled out, playful and a spontaneous person. He has this one mantra – live and let live. That drew me towards the character. Honestly, on paper. It is not a very well written character and you might have sensed from the trailer that the film does not revolve around this character. He is not the protagonist. For me, the challenge was to add layers to the character and make him more interesting than he seemed to be on the paper.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwn7Ytj5zA8

You have worked in theatre, television and are now doing films. Which medium, as an actor, do you find to be the most fulfilling one?
For any actor, theatre is always the most fulfilling medium. In our country, no actor can survive by working only in theatres. I did theatre in London when I was 20 and I was earning exactly how much, perhaps, an investment banker would be earning. In the West, theatre gets a lot of importance. There are buildings which are dedicated to theatre, these are places where only theatre productions are organized. Things are different here. We do not have specific venues to organize plays. We do not have just English language theatres in India. There are plays in different languages and because of this the audience gets fragmented. It is not possible to make a living out of doing theatre. Also, I get bored very easily. I cannot keep playing the same role every day. I remember I performed in a play in London for ten weeks and I got thoroughly bored. I would love to do a play and then, move on to the next one. But, that is not how things work. You have to run a play for weeks or months at a stretch. I did ’24: India’ recently and it is not much different from a film. It is shot like a film. We have to deliver a specific number of episodes in a given period of time. So, they pack in a lot more content. In theatre, you are left loose for three hours. Film and television have a lot of technicalities. The camera angles, shot sizes etc. are taken into account and there are retakes as well. That is why they say that it is not an actor’s but an editor’s medium. Nothing can beat theatre. When you are performing, you get an immediate response from the audience. The sense of being alive on stage is very much palpable in theatre. You know that your audience is looking at you and they are waiting to see what you do next. These moments are very special and films will never give you that.

You were part of the first season of ’24 India’. Now with the second season of the show approaching, what can we look forward from the show and the character that you play?
The name of my character is Prithvi Singhania. Aditya Singhania is the Prime Minister of the country and Prithvi is like his rock. He is that solid support system. Prithvi is a seasoned politician who knows that you have to bend certain rules whereas Aditya is an ideal politician. Prithvi brings that element of practicality in Aditya’s life. He knows how to help Aditya navigate through certain situations. In the first season, he was constantly doubted by several characters. By the end of the season one, the character was proven to be innocent. Now, Mrs. Singhania is put out of the power circuit and Prithvi has got closer to Aditya. The sense of power has really pumped into Prithvi’s character. He is able to talk sternly to certain people and is surer about himself as a person. In this season, you will get to see the tension between the two characters, Naina Singhania and Prithvi. There is a twist on the personal front of the character which emerges in this season. You will have to watch the show to find that out.

Apart from being a prolific actor, you have dabbled in direction and have helmed several theatre productions. Do you have any plans of directing a film?
I would love to direct a film one day. I was feeling quite disillusioned from acting for some time. I was wondering what I really care about as a person. When I am on the sets, I am interested in the entire production process. The director looks at everything, right from the performances to the storytelling. I am actually very interested in telling the story. As a director, you have absolute control over how you want to tell the story. As a creative person, this is something I would love to explore but I cannot do that right now. I am also busy as an entrepreneur and in the process of putting together a start-up. I cannot really talk about it at the moment but I am doing something in the technology space.

Do you have any other project in the pipeline?
‘M Cream’ is releasing this Friday. Anil Sir has organized a special screening for the first episode of ’24 – Season 2′. It is the start-up that has taken over my life at the moment.. Apart from ’24’, I am channelizing all my energies towards the start-up.

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