Vivaan Shah, the son of legendary star-parents Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah, comes from a family renowned for their remarkable contributions to Bollywood and theatre.
Vivaan made his film debut in 7 Khoon Maaf alongside established actors such as Priyanka Chopra, John Abraham, and Konkana Sen Sharma.
In the film, he portrayed the character Arun Kumar, a forensic pathologist married to Konkana Sen Sharma’s character. Working with established actors like them boosted his confidence and helped him gain exposure, ultimately leading to an opportunity with director, writer, and producer Vishal Bhardwaj. His association with Bhardwaj further expanded his horizons as an actor and opened doors for him, including a role in acclaimed Bollywood film director Farah Khan’s Happy New Year.
While he has given many satisfactory performances throughout his career, some of his favourite films include Bombay Velvet, Laali Ki Shaadi Mein Laaddoo, Ae Kash Hum, Kabaad: The Gold Coin, Gulli-Danda, the web series A Suitable Boy, among others. These films have been directed by internationally renowned filmmakers such as Farah Khan, Mira Nair, Seema Pahwa, Manish Harishankar, Varadraj Swami, Sonali Datti, and Akshaya Datti.
In his new movie Coat, Vivaan plays the role of Madho, the son of a pig farmer. The film explores the hardships that lower-caste people face due to the caste system in India.
In an exclusive interview with Patriot, Vivaan speaks about his films and shares his journey so far.
Q: Tell us something about Coat. What kind of role are you playing in the film?
A: I am playing the lead role as Madho, who is a son of a poor farmer and not respected in the village. Madho is from a lower-caste background who is not able to afford new clothes and yet wants to wear an imported coat.
It is the kind of Bollywood film which showcases the harsh realities of families and also that the caste system in India still exists.
The film’s trailer was released on April 14, which happens to be the birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar. Ambedkar, since he also belonged to the untouchable caste, preferred to wear a coat [as a form of political resistance]. So, the story makes a touching point.
I would say that my role as Madho has become my favourite role among all the roles I have done so far. I have worked very hard for it and I hope the audience loves it as well.
Q: You have worked with famous filmmakers such as Farah Khan, Mira Nair, among others, and now Sonali Datti Deshmukh. Who is your favourite one?
A: Yes, I have worked with all these famous film-makers and I respect Farah Khan a lot. On the other hand, Mira Nair and Sonali Rattan Deshmukh are also talented and creative. I enjoyed working with them too. So, it is difficult to name only one.
Q: Would you like to share your experience working with Sanjay Mishra and Sonali Jha?
A: Yes, I love working with Sanjay Mishra. He is a great actor and he helps me with dialogues among other things. Sonali Jha, too, is a good actress. Both of them are supportive and I love them.
Q: How do you like working with actress and director Seema Pahwa in Gulli Danda?
A: Gulli Danda is a serious subject in childhood. Boys play with this and I like this subject.
Gulli Danda is a loved sport for children. Mostly, boys play it and I liked the subject. Seema is a good actress and director as well. I enjoy her style of direction. So, working with her film makes me feel more comfortable.
Q: Who is your favourite Bollywood actor?
A: I like Shah Rukh Khan. He is a great human being and I respect him a lot. I have worked with him and I would love to work with him again.
Q: What is your stance on the current debate on nepotism? Do you think being born into a family of actors makes things easy?
A: Being born into a family of actors does provide certain advantages, and it can be seen as a positive point. Many directors or producers may be familiar with me due to my parents, which means I may not have to face the same struggles as those from outside the industry. However, I feel bad whenever I witness instances where actors from outside the industry become victims of nepotism. It hurts me a lot.
Moreover, there are people who spread rumours about Bollywood; they should help others to get work rather than help themselves to become successful.
Q: A lot of content on OTT platforms could be deemed as “vulgar’ that uses language not preferred by many and may affect children and teenagers. What do you think about it?
A: You are right. I have often seen this and people should be careful and responsible and not add vulgar or bold stuff or gali galoch (obscene language) unnecessarily. They should know their responsibility towards society.
For instance, in Manto, directed by Nandita Das, she portrayed things with authenticity and they could be deemed as vulgar (they are not).
This is the practice that should be followed. The problem starts when the directors try to become too commercial.
Q: Besides acting, you are also a writer who has written a book. How do you manage it?
A: Acting and writing share a strong connection. Both are needed for filmmaking; actors only deliver the dialogues that writers provide. They are just two mediums of the same creative process. So, time is not a problem and anyway, I always find time for my passion.
Q: Any memories of Delhi you would like to share with our readers?
A: Yes, I studied in Delhi at St Stephen’s College and then I shifted to Bombay. I have many friends in Delhi. It is an interesting place. I am not fluent in Punjabi, which is widely spoken in Delhi. But I know Gujarati.
Q: Best shopping place in Delhi?
A: Bahrisons for books and Khan Market.
Q: Any upcoming film projects?
A: I am currently working on five to six films, each with its unique storyline and setting. One particular project, Charlie Chopra, is a web-series where my entire family is involved in acting. Additionally, I am also part of a film that revolves around a medical subject, where I portray the role of a medical doctor. The shoots for these projects take place in both Mumbai and Lucknow.