Meeting friends over a cup of chai is something I love to do. After ages I met one such dear friend of mine Yuvraaj Parashar who recently starred in Dunno Y2. Today in Chai With Shai, Yuvraaj bares himself and talks about his life, struggles, movies etc. Here is an excerpt of our conversation that highlights the victory of an underdog.
How did your journey with Bollywood start?
I am from a small town – Agra. My journey was not very easy. Basically I am a dancer and used to dance from my childhood. Whenever I used to go for shows, people around used to tell me to become an actor. I got encouraged by them and started dreaming of becoming an actor. In fact when I came to Mumbai, I didn’t even know where to go and how to start my career. I went around knocking the doors of many casting agencies and production houses and people used to shoo me off saying I can never make it. Those were depressing times. I used to come back to my room, look at my shields and trophies and question my talent. I often thought were these trophies given to me for my talent all a fallacy? However, I shook myself up and decided that I will definitely prove everyone wrong and achieve my dream of being an actor.
How did your family react to your decision to pursue acting and Bollywood?
My family always encouraged my decision however, initially my father was not in favour but seeing my determination he also gave in.
You said you are a dancer and since childhood you have been dancing. So have you taken any formal training in dancing?
I have taken training in Kathak and Salsa but not for Bollywood dancing. From the age of 3 or 4 I have been dancing.
If Remo D’souza offers you ABCD 3 would you do it?
Of course! I am waiting for that day (smiles).
Have you approached any director for work?
I have in my initial days but I was always rejected saying who told you, you can dance or act? But then today by God’s grace I am an actor and am doing some meaningful roles.
You have been surrounded by controversies ever since you became a part of Bollywood. However, you have always stood strong and faced them patiently, what gives you so much strength?
I get my strength from my God. The strength comes within me. Also my family. Any controversy, any bad situation then always stood by me and that gave me strength to face such situations in life (smiles).
(Laughs) Yes, touchwood!
I had read somewhere that your family disowned you for signing Dunno Y. How far is it true?
It is true but not after signing Dunno Y but when the movie was made and we were promoting it. My family obviously didn’t know what movie I had signed so they didn’t object to it then. But when the movie was getting promoted on TV and the posters were put up, people in Agra who knew my family starting talking bad about me and my choice of movie. They told my parents that I am doing some porn movie and the posters showed me standing naked. My parents were affected with those talks and stopped talking to me, especially my father, close to two years.
Then how did things sort out between you and your family?
I was in regular touch with my mother but dad was not talking to me. Zeenatji (Aman) came to know about it and she was sweet enough to talk to my parents and make them understand that if the movie was bad would people like her, Helenji and Kabir Bediji work in it? Would a legend like Lataji sing for the movie? Better sense prevailed and soon things were normal between us. Today my parents are my biggest supporter (laughs). They are proud of me today and when Dunno Y2 released my father called up each and every person he knew telling them that ‘my son’s’ second movie has released (laughs).
How did Dunno Y1 happen?
Kapil and I used to go to the same dance classes and slowly we became friends. During our conversations he told me about Dunno Y and how he was looking for an actor. When he asked me if I would be interested, I said why not and that’s how things fell in place and Dunno Y1 got made.
Did you have any apprehensions playing a gay man on-screen?
No. I loved the subject. The character was interesting and therefore I went with it. I never wanted to do conventional movies where I had a couple of songs, few fight sequences, dance around the trees etc.
I understand you had to go through a lot of struggle before and after Dunno Y1 was made. How did you sail through that period?
Before the movie I had to go through the normal struggling period however, after the movie was made and released, I went through the worst phase of my life. You might not know that I also became a partner in the movie. I had invested in the movie when it was completed and ready for release. I lost a lot of money when the movie didn’t get a proper release nor did it do well during its theatrical run. All those luxuries and comfort I had before I invested in the movie ran out. There were days when I did not eat and was in depression for a long time. When I look back I feel all those experiences only made me strong and determined to make it big in the industry.
Did the attitude of the industry people change after Dunno Y1 bagged many international awards and recognition?
Yes it did but then I believe people who judge you on the basis of a success or a failure are not the right people to be with. I like to keep myself far away from such people.
The songs are very melodious especially the songs sung by Lataji and Salma Agha. How did you convince Lataji to come out of her hibernation?
I would give all credit to Kapil (laughs). When we approached Lataji, she loved the story and the song, and she came on board. In fact apart from the Dunno Y series she has not sung for anyone and we consider it as a blessing (smiles).
Whom can you say are your friends in this industry?
Kapil Sharma and also his father Mr. K.C. Sharma. I share a very beautiful and warm relationship even with our age difference. He is a very positive person and always tell me if God has brought you to this industry then he will help you sail through.
Who conceptualized and designed the innovative posters of Dunno Y2?
(Laughs) It was a team decision.
Come on someone would have suggested it right?
Yes (laughs). It was my idea (smiles). We wanted to do something quirky to get our movie noticed and say that they want to see it…
…and it did work (smiles)
Thank you (smiles)
Any funny events that happened during the filming of Dunno Y2?
There is this scene where we are in a dance club and my character had to make Kapil’s character jealous as we are having some friction between us. So I had to approach this junior artist and kiss him, and to my surprise that actor actually smooched me and I was taken aback (laughs).
Have men hit on you?
Yes many a time but now I know how to handle it (laughs).
When Dunno y1 released 377 act was abolished and now when Dunno Y2 has released the act is back on. What is your take on this act?
I feel this is not justified and 377 should be permanently scrapped. Because you cannot punish someone for falling in love. Moreover, this act was introduced by British and even after independence we are still following the acts left behind by them. My last word on it, abolish 377 permanently (smiles).
If you look at Hollywood, there are movies made for every kind of audience eg: rom-com, action, porn, gay themed movies, historical etc. Why is it that we don’t see that kind of experiments being done in India?
I feel we should also make movies for each kind of audience because whoever wants to see a movie will definitely see his kind of movie. Like during our promotions we put up a post that said “Agar PK dekhke tu Alien nahi bana toh Dunno Y dekhkar tu gay nahi banega.”
Yes I have seen that post and had also shared it (laughs).
Agar movies dekhke log waise ban gaye toh we would have seen so many doctors and lawyers and criminals everywhere. So I feel as creative people we should strive to make movies that will appeal to everyone.
Gay characters are often used as an object to raise laughter in Indian movies, what’s your take on it?
It is totally unjustified. There are so many straight acting gay men, not every gay guy is feminine. So stereotyping people in movies is not good. Audience should see Dunno Y2 to understand what I am talking about (winks).
How did the Norwegien collaboration happen and what was the idea behind hiring a co-director – Tonje Gjevjon along with Sanjay Sharma?
They saw Dunno Y1 in a film festival held in Israel and approached us. We worked on the story together and Sanjayji always knew that it is a collaborative movie and he was okay with it. The entire shoot went up
Both movies had some great songs, so who chose the music?
Nikhil Kamath is the whole and sole person who should get all the credit. Not only the songs he has done a fantastic job with the background music too.
Great! Okay, Yuvi it’s time for some fun. Are you ready?
Fun??? (raises eyebrows)
(Laughs) Relax, I am going to ask you some questions and you have to give me some quirky replies. Done?
Phewww! Go ahead shoot (laughs).
What is your wildest fantasy?
What??? (laughs uncontrollably) I have never thought of this.
Give a thought and answer (laughs)
Okay… let me think (pauses and then starts laughing). Going on a date with Madhuri Dixit… is this good enough?
You are giving me this answer to please me (laughs).
(Joins laughter) Nothing like that.
Your dream date
Nice (smiles). Future Ahead?
I am part of a musical play Hyacinth directed by Sandip Soparkar and there are few movies that are in planning stage.
You suck at this, let’s play rapid fire, okay?
One person you want to romantically pair up on-screen other than Kapil for Dunno Y3?
The hottest male star in Bollywood?
Your dream role?
Shah Rukh’s role in Devdas.
Favorite movie in Hollywood with a LGBT theme?
One night stand or dinner date?
Dinner Date (giggles).
Does size matter?
Depends what size are you referring to (bites tongue).
Hmm… Should I elaborate?
No! No! (laughs).
Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Salman with shirt or without?
Who among the current actors you feel would have suited the role of Ashley and Aryan other than you and Kapil?
Ashley – Ranbir Kapoor Aryan – Varun Dhawan.
Wow what a choice! (Laughs) Hollywood or Bollywood?
Of course Bollywood!
Your favorite author?
Of course you!
You definitely made my day (winks). It was such a pleasure to catch up with you Yuvi, all the best for your future endeavours.