Shedding the tag wouldn’t be simple, says actor Pratik Gandhi who performed Harshad Mehta in Rip-off 1992


or Pratik Gandhi, Scam 1992 cannot really be called beginner’s luck, for this actor is already an established name in Gujarati theatre and cinema. But with his first mainstream act, he’s turned the story of infamous Harshad Mehta exactly as its maker Hansal Mehta envisaged – neither that of a hero nor a villain.

The process, however, left Pratik a changed man. He gained and lost loads of weight among other things. “Somehow the unit was never happy with my weight gain, even after 18 kilos, they barely accepted it,” laughs Pratik, basking in the glory of the feedback. Shabana Azmi called the feat, ‘Á star is born’. Humbled and honoured, Pratik says, “When we worked on the series, I knew that this was going to be one project that I would be immensely proud of. But so much love would come my way, that too from the stalwarts of the industry, audience all across India and also from abroad, was beyond my dreams. It is simply overwhelming.”

Pratik Gandhi

Working with Mehta was a dream come true for Pratik. “I auditioned for the series, but I later learnt that Mehta sir never even looked at the audition tapes. He had seen two of my Gujarati films and a play, and that bagged me the coveted project.”

The months that followed on sets were just about hard work. “In 1992, I was in school. I did hear about Harshad Mehta and one of my cousins lost some money in the stock market, but I knew little about it. I spent time with jobbers from the 80s and 90s to get the true picture and learn the financial jargon. The script with 550 pages was like a thesis.”

After completing the shooting on March 5, Pratik lost 12 kilos out of the 18 kilos he had gained for the role. Now, the actor in him knows that shedding the tag wouldn’t be easy. “Shredding the extra weight is the first step towards getting a new look, and to hopefully create euphoria towards a new character that I play,” says Pratik, who is inundated with offers.

His first Hindi film as a lead is almost ready for release. “Bhavai is a social satire and is very interesting,” he says. This actor from Surat, who is still an engineer and has worked with multinationals, hopes to bring out the Gujarati entrepreneur in him too, as he toys with a few start-up ideas. With Gujarati films like Bey Yaar, Mohan’s Masala, and Wrong Side Raju (it won the National Award for Best Gujarati Film) to his credit, Pratik has theatre experience too, “The two mediums are pretty different. While in theatre, the audience becomes a part of the performance with their energy and instant response, cinema is a one-way medium. Also, in theatre one lives the character for say 2-3 hours. Scam 1992 was my first web series and the shoot that lasted months had a different feel. Be it stage or screen, the process of acting for me stays the same.”

Playing the ‘first financial scammer of India’ never posed a dilemma for Pratik, who looks forward to playing more such grey shades. “There is more to play in a complex character, something that I totally enjoy doing,” says Pratik, aiming at more memorable characters to be brought out on celluloid.

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