Though his first film did not do anything to propel his career forward in tinsel town, model turned actor Gaurav Arora has his hopes pined on ‘Raaz Reboot’, the fourth installment in the much successful horror franchise. Set on a much bigger scale than his debut film, the film has him featuring alongside Emraan Hashmi and Kannada actress Kriti Kharbanda. In this interview, Gaurav, who hails from a small town in Madhya Pradesh, talks about his expectations from his second film, getting into the film industry and making the transition from modelling to acting.
Though your first film ‘Love Games’ was backed by big banners like Vishesh Films and T-Series, it opened to a lukewarm response. Your second film is a part of a highly successful franchise, has been mounted on a large scale and has a major star like Emraan Hashmi featuring in it. Do you expect it to do the trick for you?
We had a lot of expectations from ‘Love Games’ but I guess, somewhere we went wrong with the execution and that is, probably, the reason why the film did not work. Of course, ‘Raaz’ is a big franchise and ‘Raaz 3’ had earned more than 80 crores at the box office. I believe ‘Raaz’ brought the horror genre into the mainstream space. Earlier people were apprehensive about watching horror films as they were mostly low budget, B grade stuff but ‘Raaz’ upped the game for this genre and gave it a major boost. The brand name is there and the presence of a star like Emraan adds a lot of value to the film. The music is doing very well and I feel people are looking forward to watch the film. As a newcomer, it is definitely a big platform for me to showcase my talent.
How was the experience of working with Vikram Bhatt on the two films?
It was a great experience. I was offered ‘Raaz Reboot’ while shooting for ‘Love Games’. On the fourth day of the shoot, I was informed that I will be a part of the film. Without even seeing me on the big screen or knowing about the fate of my first film, they offered me my first film. Vikram Sir is my mentor. He held my hand and introduced me to the entire process of filmmaking. I have done a lot of theatre before but there is a difference between the two mediums. He told me that you might be a good actor but I have to teach you the language of cinema.
You grew up in a small town in Madhya Pradesh. Was it difficult to make inroads into the glamour industry?
It was a difficult and a long process for sure. It took me ten years to get my first film. The problem was that I did not how to get in touch with people from the industry. Someone like (Mahesh) Bhatt Saab must be getting a hundred calls from aspiring actors every day, so I had no idea how to actually meet such people. I came from a small town and being an outsider, I did not know anyone in the industry or in Mumbai. It was difficult but looking at the things I achieved in the process, I think it was worth it.
You carved out a successful career as a model but getting into films took some time. You were almost shortlisted for ‘Aashiqui 2’ and a couple of other big projects but things never worked out. How would you describe your journey from modelling to acting?
While I was in college, I realized that I wanted to get into films. At that time, a lot of models like Bipasha Basu, Dino Morea, Arjun Rampal and John Abraham were making a foray into films. So, I thought modelling was the stepping stone to getting into films. I came to Mumbai to do an acting course. During that time, I started grooming myself and tried to understand how the industry functions. I jumped into modelling to make a name for myself, so that I can, eventually, get into films. Apart from taking up modelling assignments, I participated in acting workshops and did theatre for two years. When I felt that I was ready to get into films, I started meeting people and auditioning for films. You go through a lot of rejections and low points in your life but all of it is worth it if you manage to achieve your dreams.
The equation shared by the three actors in ‘Raaz Reboot’ seems somewhat similar to the one in ‘Raaz – The Mystery Continues’. From what one has seen in the promos, your character has certain similarities to the one played by Adhyayan Suman in ‘Raaz – The Mystery Continues’.
There is no similarity between the two characters. ‘Raaz Reboot’ is a completely different film. The character that I play is called Rehaan Khanna. He is a very intense person and there are grey shades to his character. He does not talk much and communicates through his eyes. Rehaan and Shaina (Kriti Kharbanda) meet in Romania, fall in love, get married and have to go to Mumbai for some reason. When they come back to Romania, they come across certain secrets that were buried there and which, now, are affecting their lives.
The film has been shot in Romania and the landscape of the city seems to be complementing the space the film is set in. Is the setting integral to the plot of the film?
When Vikram Sir decided to reboot or reinvent the franchise, he realized that he had to take a step forward and hence, the film has to have an edge over the earlier installments in terms of the visuals and the narrative. He wanted the characters to be in a place which is slightly deserted and conveys a sense of desolation. He has used a lot of snow in the film. The temperature was around minus 18 degrees there. We shot in the Dictator’s palace in Romania. Even the hallways in the palace added so much value to the scenes. The location is like a character in the film and it evokes fear in your mind.
You have a three film deal with Vishesh Films. Has the third film already been decided?
The third film has not been decided so far. We are looking forward to see how ‘Raaz Reboot’ fares and then, they will take a call on the third film I will be doing. I have been going through a couple of scripts but there is nothing that I have taken a liking to so far. Once the film releases, I will be in a better position to talk about my future endeavours.