Vicky Kaushal’s is the quintessential journey of a common boy who works hard to live his monumental movie-star dreams. From being an assistant director on the sets of Gangs of Wasseypur, he went on to portray a memorable small-town boy, Deepak Kumar, in Masaan. The rest, as they say, is history. On a short weekend getaway from the City of Dreams, Kaushal spoke to us about his journey, love for travel, bucket-list destinations and more. By Kumar Shree
Photographer Rahul Jhangiani
Styling Amandeep Kaur
Assistant Stylist Ria Rawlani
Fashion Intern Mahek Sanghvi
Hair Shuaib for Team Hakim’s Aalim
Makeup Anil Sable
Producer Imran Khatri Productions
Location The Machan, Lonavala
Auto Partner Volkswagen Tiguan
It’s a misty day in Lonavala. The cool breeze carries a chill on its back, while the rain plays peek-a-boo. The day is punctuated with stretches of noisy downpours and silent stillness. We are perched at an eco-resort called The Machan – A Tree House Resort in Lonavala. It is here and on the Mumbai-Lonavala highway that Bollywood heartthrob Vicky Kaushal revs up the all-new Volkswagen Tiguan and chats with us on his many journeys, including the journey within.
Tell us about your acting journey so far.
My journey has been beautiful. I’ve learned a lot and got to work with some of the finest people in the industry. Sometimes, I feel I’m getting more than I dreamed of. This motivates me to keep pushing my own boundaries and to keep giving my best, because when you receive love from the audience, which I have received quite a bit, it puts you in a positive space.
Some might say that you have transitioned from being an actor to a star. What all has changed?
More people know my name, more people take selfies. I’m getting to work with bigger directors and bigger producers on bigger films. The love that I’m receiving is rising exponentially.
A character that’s close to your heart and why?
All the characters that I’ve played are close to my heart, because you give a part of yourself to every character, and the character too gives a part of itself to you. I guess playing Deepak in Masaan will always be special because certain things [about that role] changed my life for good.
What’s the equation between your travel and work?
I think travelling goes in sync with my work because every new person that I meet and every new experience that I have makes my database as an actor richer. As actors, we believe that none of our experiences go to waste. Travelling enables us to meet new people, see new cultures, discover new dialects, new experiences—good, bad, ugly, fantastic—all of these are useful to us. Travelling is one of the best things to do for your own evolution.
How do you explore a place while on a shoot?
Sometimes, when we travel for work, we don’t actually get to see the place or the culture. For example, I had first gone to Benares as an assistant director on Gangs of Wasseypur, but I was so engrossed in my job that I didn’t get to see or live Benares. But for Masaan, I had to play the Benaresi boy, so I went there three weeks before my job started, and during that time, I lived and breathed Benares.
What do you like to do on a holiday such as this?
Holidays are therapeutic for me. It’s never about checking a to-do list; it’s about embracing the people and their culture, and just spending time at a destination. Getting lost in a place is my way of picking its real essence. I could be walking miles, sitting at random coffee shops, meeting new people, talking to them, and walking miles again; or I could go to popular places like everyone else. A holiday, for me, is not going to the place with a certain agenda.
Five destinations that you’d love to visit?
Bhutan for its clean air, London because I’ve never been there, New York, a safari in Africa as I want to spend some time in the jungle, and Leh-Ladakh, because whoever comes from there paints it as the most beautiful place on this planet.
What has been your most memorable holiday so far?
A month-long trip to New York for my birthday. All my engineering friends from college work there. After having worked for years, you crave to hang out with your old friends. They know you not for the actor you are, but for the person you are. They pamper you so much it heals your soul.
Your favourite destination?
New York City—because of my friends, the city’s vibe, its cuisine, and its cosmopolitan nature. The place never sleeps. The streets, the roads, and the avenues—I just love walking on them. New York has good food, good people, and is a very welcoming, buzzing city.
Where do you usually go for a weekend getaway?
Somewhere close, maybe Panvel or Lonavala. I like to do that especially during rains, because you feel like stepping out of the city for a day or two. Lonavala has some really good properties—I’ve come here (The Machan) for the first time and I love it. I’d love to come back.
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done?
I’m really scared of deep water bodies. In my first film, Masaan, I had to do a major sequence diving into the River Ganga, that too in the night. It was very scary for me. I was in the middle of the river for about four hours while they shot that sequence.
Where are you heading next, and what are you most excited about?
I don’t know where I’m travelling next for a vacation, but workwise, I’m travelling to St Petersburg in Russia for a two-month schedule for my upcoming film, Sardar Udham Singh, directed by Shoojit Sircar. I’ll be there during November and December, and I’ve heard it’s freezing—the temperature dips to -25 to -30 degrees Celsius, which I have never experienced in my life. Also, I’ve never seen snowfall!
A memorable moment on the road?
While I was working as an assistant director on Gangs of Wasseypur, we were travelling from Benares to Bihar. There was a certain patch of the route that we were crossing in the night—we had been instructed not to stop at all because it was known for dacoit attacks. But the driver was so sleepy that he refused to drive on after 2 am. We found a small shack in the middle of nowhere—with no people or even a light bulb inside. We spent the entire night there in constant fear that somebody would come and loot us. It was an exciting night.
How do you like to unwind when not on a shoot?
By sleeping as much as I can, whenever I get time. Secondly, by spending time with my family and old friends, who have known me since before I became an actor. I hang out with them; I go to watch movies and plays. There’s this rule in the family that we’ll take at least one family trip in a year. I’ve also made a personal rule—to plan one trip for myself in a year, either solo or with friends.
A fan interaction that has stayed with you?
I met a very sweet girl at a Melbourne hotel. I was sitting in the restaurant for my breakfast when she saw me, came up to me, and just started crying. It was a first for me— someone was so happy just to see me that she started crying. I was not prepared for that, and I didn’t know what to do. We spoke and clicked selfies in the end.
What do you love most about Mumbai?
I’ve been born and raised in the city— there’s Mumbai in my blood. I love that this city embraces everyone who comes to it, it has a big heart, it never sleeps, it’s always buzzing, and it is always ready to help—no matter what time it is. Be it rains, floods, or accidents, people always turn up to help one another.
Three of your favourite travel movies?
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Dil Chahta Hai, and Hangover.
Favourite Cuisine Mexican
Favourite City New York
Type of Travel Slow Travel
Year-End Vacay (Ideal) Bhutan or Ladakh
Year-End Vacay (Reality, 2019) Russia, for a film shoot.