A couple of years Jaipur boy Aman Uppal arrived in Mumbai and today, as he admits himself, the city feels like home. In this interview, he talks about his new show ‘Only For Singles’, his journey in the world of showbiz so far, views on social issues, digital being a misunderstood medium and more.
‘Only For Singles’ is your second show. You had earlier done another show called ‘Cheers – Friend. Reunion. Goa’.
Yes, that was my first show. The show made me realise the freedom the digital space gives you. After that, I was more excited about doing projects on the web and I am glad ‘Only For Singles’ fell in my lap.
Are you from Mumbai?
I came here to do college and have been living here since then. I am from Jaipur. When you are in the north, you aim to get into Delhi University as that is the most reputed university out there. That was my goal too but destiny brought me here. I started doing professional theatre while I was in school. I was doing a play when one of my co-actors told me that colleges in Mumbai had begun their admission process. I was surprised as our board results had not yet been announced. Nevertheless, I started applying for colleges in Mumbai. A theatre director from Delhi, whom I was working with, told me if I want to become an actor, I must go to Mumbai. He stated that theatre is the best place for an actor to learn his craft but you cannot make a living out of it. I joined Xaviers College in Mumbai and started making rounds of auditions at the same time. This is how my journey in the city started. After living here for so many years, it feels like home.
Whenever a person, especially a young man or a woman, comes to the city they face a lot of difficulties while finding an accommodation. Did you have to go through any such difficulty when you moved to this city?
Yes, I had my share of troubles. When I would tell a broker or a landlord that my name is Aman, they would slyly enquire me about my surname to determine whether I am a Hindu or a Muslim. Thankfully, that did not happen too many times and after a while, I managed to find an accommodation for myself. I know a lot of my friends who have gone through bigger problems while looking for a house to rent or to buy. Why should somebody tell me what I should eat or whom can I bring home? I think we as a society are getting intolerant. And, this is not just happening in India. It is happening all across the world. Digitalisation has also contributed to this problem in a big way. Earlier, you had a handful of magazines and newspapers. There were people who made sure the content that reached out to the masses was appropriate and did not have any element that could create disturbance in the society. Now, anybody can say anything they wish to on social media. You can create fake profiles and then, hurl abuses at people and harm them in different ways. This is a very dangerous thing.
Does the show touch upon these issues?
Yes, we talk about these issues but in a subtle way. I play a Muslim character who finds it difficult to find accommodation. He is discriminated because of his religion. There is another character who is facing difficulties because he is an actor by profession.
You have done a couple of films too. Do you see any difference in the work culture while doing a film and shooting for a digital show?
There is no difference in the work culture as such. Digital has been a misunderstood medium till now. People think one can shoot anything on a phone and put it out there. The cost of shoot for a day is the same, no matter which medium it is. The effort is just the same across different mediums. There has to be an editor, cinematographer, lightmen, food etc. What digital has done is that it has enabled people to tell different kind of stories and experiment with a wide variety of subjects.
You have not done a television show till now. Are you open to working in that medium?
Earlier, I was reluctant towards doing television but now, I am okay with the idea of doing a TV show. One cannot deny the fact that television helps you gain financial stability. Years back, I had come to Mumbai on a short visit and my father took me to the set of a television show. I saw the writer writing the script on the set and then, passing it on to the actors. Then, I overheard a conversation between the producer and the director. The producer was telling him that they have got thirteen minutes of content and the rest, they will have to manage on the editing table as it is not possible to shoot anymore. I was appalled to see the way things were functioning there. I do not like to do things in a rush as it hampers the quality of the output.
What would be your advice to an aspiring actor be?
I will be very honest. It is very difficult to be an actor in this city as there is a lot of competition. The toughest part of being an actor is to keep your sanity intact. It is a job where you have to compete all the time. I meet people who tell me they want to become actors, so that they can become popular. I feel sad when I hear that. You should be in a profession for the right reason.
What are you doing next?
I have shot for a web show for Alt Balaji. It should start streaming in a couple of months.