Actor Vardhan Puri realised his passion for cinema early in life. He acted in plays when he was just five and worked his way up and that included working as the junior-most assistant on film sets which required him to do odd jobs like serving tea and sweeping the floor. Later, he was featured in minor roles. His first role as a lead came in 2019 with the film Yeh Saali Aashiqui. His second is with director Vivek Agnihotri whose working title is The Last Show. Vardhan, who aims to do 500 films, is taking it slow and steady, enjoying every act, role and opportunity!
Film school started early
The grandson of legend Amrish Puri, Vardhan got the taste of world-class cinema pretty early in life. “My granddad’s bedroom had the perfect ambience to enjoy movies. We would watch a film together, analyse, and critique it.” It was the infectious energy of Amrish Puri that he still marvels at. “He worked long shifts but I never saw him looking tired or stressed. He was always enthusiastic about his lines and his scenes.” Comparisons with the veteran actor don’t bother him at all. “I do a different kind of work than what he did. And he always told me no two people are alike, I have to stay true to my craft and that’s all that matters.”
Having a clear vision
Unlike Puri senior, Vardhan’s parents were not associated with film production. His father enjoyed a career in the Merchant Navy, and mother is a doctor. Vardhan has full support of his family. “I distinctly recall the first time when I acted on stage. I was about 8, it was a small scene and one dialogue – my seniors told me how unnerving it could be with blinding lights and audience staring, but as I went on stage and said my line, I was not nervous but excited. I knew from that moment that I belonged on the stage and in front of the camera.”
His family has now turned producers, and together they want to tell stories that they feel about.
Ask him to choose the best from his grandfather, he rattles out names at supersonic speed – Manthan, Mandi, Party, Ardh Satya, Aakrosh, Vijeta— all are outstanding. And then there are popular favourites—Mr. India, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and Nagina. But if have to choose just one, then Virasat it is. The honesty that he brought to Bade Raja Thakur’s character was one stellar performance.
Entering the culinary world
The pandemic ruined Vardhan’s plans like everyone else’s. Had the shoots been on, he would have completed three films. But what cannot be challenged must be endured. “No doubt Covid-19 has been very unfortunate. As a defence mechanism I try to focus on what I gained through the lockdowns.”
Being locked up home was tough for him as he is a very active and social person. “I have only emerged stronger. I have become my best friend.” While he spent time catching up on cinema, doing workshops, writing scripts, he’s very proud of his culinary skill which he has developed during this time. “Before the first lockdown, I did not know the layout of our kitchen. I can make many Punjabi and Italian dishes. Now, I am exploring Chinese and Japanese cuisines.” The latest recipe that he has mastered is kadah parsad. “So pure is the process, no wonder nothing in the world tastes as good as kadah prasad.” Feeding friends and family makes him happy. “When I get requests to cook a particular dish, I am thrilled. Either I am a good chef or my family and friends are being supportive.”
When not acting, Vardhan likes to spend hours at the gym. “Exercise is like meditation.” Reading and watching films are another favourite. He makes a case for Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove. “The book is funny as well touching. Among the films that he has enjoyed, Joji is by far his favourite. “I am a fan of Malayalam cinema. Dileesh Pothan’s Joji with Fahadh Faasil, a take on Macbeth, is just outstanding.”
With two more films in his kitty, he is excited to bring some the stories he’s written on screen, hopefully soon!