Vikrant Massey: ‘OTT platforms are not only a boon for actors, but for all storytellers and the audience’

By Neeru Saluja

He’s the most versatile OTT actor who has officially taken over our screens. With his natural onscreen persona, actor Vikrant Massey brings a wave of sensitivity to his roles leaving the audience wanting for more.

Vikrant Massey has carved a niche for himself with his extensive work across all mediums – theatre, television, films, short films and web series. The actor started his journey in films with Vikramaditya Motwane’s Lootera and has given critically applauded performances in A Death in the Gunj, Lipstick Under My Burkha, Chhapaak, Mirzapur, Cargo and most recently Haseen Dilruba.

We will next see him in ‘Love Hostel’, where a star-crossed couple (Vikrant Massey and Sanya Malhotra) are made to pay the price of falling in love outside their society and family’s construct, making them vulnerable to hate crimes and honour killings. The movie also features actor Bobby Deol as a ruthless mercenary on the hunt for these two lovers.

Excerpts from our interview with Massey ahead of the release of Love Hostel on ZEE5 Global.

It’s a pleasure to talk to you again. The last time we talked was for 14 Phere. You have been wowing the audience with your performances, the most recently in Haseen Dilruba. Now we are eagerly waiting for your performance in Love Hostel. What’s your role in this crime thriller?  

Thank you so much for your kind words. My character is called Ashu. On the face of it, he looks like a regular guy from North India. But when you start scratching the surface, you see that this boy has a lot more than what it appears to be. This guy is madly in love with Jyoti, played by Sanya Malhotra. This film is about two star crossed lovers who are on the run. It’s about their survival and an edge of the seat thriller hoping and praying that these two will make it on the other side. It’s an interesting take on a modern love story.

Then why is it called Love Hostel – what does the title mean?

Our film is fictionalised on this concept of safe houses which you can find in North India where two consenting adults end up marrying beyond the consent of the family. The Indian government provides them safe houses. Our story begins from there and that’s why it is called ‘Love Hostel’.

You share screen with an intriguing cast. How was it working with Sanya Malhotra and Bobby Deol?

It was fantastic working with both as I admire their work. I have been a fan boy of Bobby Sir all my life, grew up watching his films and sharing screen space with him was a great experience. Sanya is one actor whom I have always aspired to work with. I’m glad that this finally happened. I have learned a lot from her and she has brought out the best out of me. Sanya is definitely one of the best co-actors I have worked with. I though really wish I had few more scenes with Bobby Sir, but nevertheless, I’ll wait for another time.   

Vikrant, you come from a breed of actors that have been ruling the OTT platforms. Would you consider this as a boon for actors like you who are an outsider to the industry?

It’s not only a boon for actors but a boon for all forms of storytellers – be it writers, producers, directors or even technicians. For the last two years because of OTT platforms there is no dearth of work and there is so much content floating around. Because of that, in Mumbai when you step out of your house and meet people within your fraternity, you realise everyone is so busy. This is a great opportunity and I see it as a boon. Not only for people getting employed, but for the audience also because the consumption patterns of the audience has changed and they have so much to choose from.

That is so true, we are now spoilt with choices. But how are actors managing so many films in a year?

I don’t know about other actors but I can talk for myself. A lot also depends on the production budget for your film and what scale the film is shot. The kind of films I prefer to do are mid budget films. There is little margin for error. You spend 60 days shooting for a film and roll out 4-5 films a year. That’s the plan but you know what COVID has done to us in the past two years, there is massive unpredictability. It’s better not to schedule the year and take one day at a time.

Be it the kind-hearted Rana in Dil Dhadakne Do; bullied Shutu in A Death in the Gunj; activist Amol in Chhapaak or the reluctant gangster Bublu Pandit in Mirzapur — you have always struck the right chord. While selecting your films, do scripts choose you or you choose your scripts?

It’s both the ways around. There are times when a script finds you. For example, Haseen Dilruba chose me. Then there are sometimes you choose a script. So it’s a mixed bag.

Vikrant, when I interviewed you last time you came across as a keen observer. Is that true and how does the skill help you as an actor?

I would like to believe that I’m a keen observer. I really have this inherent knack to be that fly on the wall and observe things. Also consciously or subconsciously, it has become a part of my life. It started off as I’m not a trained actor so I try to observe life and human behaviour in general. It assists me in my acting journey to understand the characters I play.

How would you trace your progression from supporting roles to leading actor in the last two years?

It is very fulfilling, to be honest. I’m not in a position to sit back and evaluate or rank myself but overall, I’m very grateful and thankful for the life that I am leading right now. Also thankful to the audience for being so patient and consistent with me in my journey. There is definitely a sense of responsibility creeping in which hopefully makes me perform better and entertain them with films that will be worth their time and money.

On a closing note, would you like to say something to your fans down under?

Thank you for always helping us to reach out to people down under. This is my second interview with The Indian Down Under and it’s always a pleasure talking to you. Thanks for all the love. Please watch Love Hostel, let us know what you think about it and tag us on social media.

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