He has spent a decade in the entertainment industry and yet, when you speak to Anuj Sachdeva, you realise he has the excitement and the zeal of a newcomer who wants to explore different kind of things as an artiste. His journey in the dance reality show ‘Nach Baliye 9’, in which he participated with his ex-girlfriend, was short-lived but there are rumours that they will be back as wild-card entries. In this interview, he speaks about his long and eventful journey in the industry, why ‘Nach Baliye 9’ was a special experience for him, the reason behind working on the web space being his priority, how his bond with Urvashi Dholakia has evolved over the years and more.
You have spent a decade in the entertainment industry. I remember watching you in two of your first stints on television – ‘Roadies Season 3’ and ‘Sabki Laadli Bebo’.
Yes, it all started with ‘Roadies Season 3’. At that time, the show was not as popular as it went on to become in the subsequent seasons. I also participated in Grasim Mr. India Pageant. Then, my acting debut happened with ‘Sabki Laadli Bebo’.
They say, you cannot be friends with your ex. You clearly do not believe in that as you participated with your ex-girlfriend Urvashi Dholakia in ‘Nach Baliye 9’.
Yes, I do not believe in that notion. Actually, it all depends on how the two people involved in it deal with it. Obviously, there is a little awkwardness once the relationship ends but if you must be mature enough to realise that you cannot let go of a person just because you are in a relationship with them anymore. I have always admired Urvashi for being a mature and sensible person and I am glad we have continued to be friends all these years.
What was you first reaction when the show was offered to you?
Both of were apprehensive for a while and were not sure if we should take up the offer. The reason was that we did not speak about our relationship when we were together. There was a time when Urvashi was dealing with a lot of things and did not have any emotional support in her life. I liked her as a person and wanted to be there for her. One night, she called me at around 2-3 am as she was going through some crisis and I immediately reached out to her. We just got into a relationship without thinking very deeply about it. Even when we were in a relationship, we were more like friends than lovers. After being together for a few years, we parted ways amicably. At that time, I was in my early 20s, had just come to Mumbai and was just trying to get a foothold in the industry. My priority was my career. I had done a footwear designing course and was supposed to join my father’s footwear business in Delhi. My dad trained me very hard. I have even swiped the floors of our showroom. He made me go through that because he had gone through a lot of struggle in life before he achieved something and knew that unless I went through a bit of difficulty myself, I would never learn. I struggled a lot after coming to Mumbai but never borrowed money from my parents. Urvashi was very supportive to me during that period. I am just glad I have a wonderful human being like her as my friend. A lot of times, people get married but indulge in extra-marital affairs. I have always been an honest person. Marriage is a very sacred entity for me and I wanted to be completely ready before I committed myself to somebody.
How would you describe your equation with Urvashi now?
It has been the same actually. I respected her as much when we were in a relationship as I respect her today. Respect is the most important thing in all kinds of relationship. I promised Urvashi that I would always be there for her. I think I have managed to live up to that promise. I had never worked with her, so doing ‘Nach Baliye’ was also a great opportunity to finally be able to be with her in a professional, work-based setup.
You are a trained dancer. That must have worked as an asset for you while doing the show,
Yes, I have learnt hip-hop, salsa and a few other forms of dance as well. I do not really consider myself to be a dancer as I never did it professionally. Main sirf shaadiyon mein naachta tha (laughs). In the first episode, Raveena (Tandon) ma’am commented that I looked a little uncomfortable. Urvashi is a trained dancer too but there was a gap in between. I think our performance got better with every episode.
You started out with television, did films and have now done web shows too. Is there a medium that you prefer working in over the others?
Every medium has its own beauty. I want to try out different just things not just as an actor but as a human being. I am not a born actor. I participated in a pageant, did modelling and gradually moved into acting. So, every process taught me something. I was always fascinated by ads, especially the ones which had stories. I, along with Anushka Sharma, have been associated with Nivea for with years. After a point, I decide to become selective because people started saying I was getting over-exposed in ads. Every medium offers a different experience and I am glad that I got to work in all of them.
Your dad was quite supportive of you when you told him that you want to become an actor.
I come from a conservative family in Delhi. I am also the only son of my parents. I told him I want to go to Mumbai for ten days and see if things work out for me in the industry. Ten days have now turned into ten years. They were happy to see me grow in my profession. I had left behind my family business and it was important for me to prove myself.
You seem to be more active in the web space. You have done ‘The Reunion’, ’Breathe’ and ‘Bin Bulaaye Mehmaan’. Was that a conscious decision?
Yes, it was a conscious move. There was a time when people were getting stereotyped as TV actors and were not getting work on other platforms. When the web space came into being, I was really excited to see the kind of content being made there and wanted to work in it. Apart from acting in a couple of fiction shows, I also did a talk show. In television, you get regular work. That does not happen in the web space as there are breaks between different shows. But then, unlike television, there is no monotony in the digital space.
Do you think there is a possibility of web taking over network television?
Yes, there is a possibility of web taking over television. I think the traditional way of watching television ended long back. Things have become very easy today. We grew up in a time when we had to go to the terrace of our homes to fix the antenna. Technology has changed things drastically.
You are not very active on social media.
When ‘Love Shagun’ was about to release, I was asked to open an Instagram account to promote the film. I have not been very active on social media but I try to be more active now. Personally, I think your work should speak for yourself. I find it disturbing to see some people getting addicted to their smartphones. Doing anything in excess is harmful.
These days, you hear about people getting work because of the number of followers they have on social media.
You are absolutely right! These days, the first thing you are asked is that how many followers you have. Even non-actors get important roles in films and shows just because they are popular on social media.
What are you doing next?
‘Nach Baliye 9’ was taking up all my time but now, that my journey on the show is over, I can get back to doing assignments. I always wanted to add the title of dancer in my life. I am glad I managed to do that finally. Somebody had told me once that I had two left feet. Although he said in jest, I took it to my heart and wanted to prove to the world that I can dance as well. At this moment, I am looking forward to do some interesting work in the web. When I did films, I gave a lot of time but they were not marketed well and I did not really benefit from them. Web shows are a much safer bet as compared to films.