Bengaluru boy makes it big in B-Town

Priyanshu Painyuli

Priyanshu Painyuli has been making his presence felt in all mainstream forms of visual entertainment. Having starred in ‘Rock On 2’, ‘Bhavesh Joshi Superhero’and the web series ‘Bang Baaja Baaraat’, he will now be seen in ‘Upstarts’, a Netflix original which talks about the journey of three young college graduates into the manic world of startups in India. 
Taking a breather in between signing more films and awaiting the release of some other projects on OTT platforms, he talks to Showtime about his journey in tinsel town.

How did you prepare for your role in ‘Upstarts’?
The techie-turned-director Udai Singh Pawar comes from the IT sector background. He taught us some of the technical aspects of the tech startup ecosystem.
I wanted to understand how CEOs work; not just what happens inside offices but what goes behind it, the 
craziness involved and how it affects interpersonal relationships. I travelled to Bengaluru and met some top people from ‘Ola’, ‘Urban Ladder’ and ‘RedBus’. This gave me an idea of the struggle involved in becoming a successful entrepreneur.
I also put on some weight to look my part. I am not saying that there aren’t skinny entrepreneurs but mostly, sitting at your desk for the better part of the day does take a toll on your physical health. 

What was the most difficult part of playing your character Kapil?
He is very high on energy while I am a laid back person in real life. The challenge was for me to get into that zone but it wasn’t difficult as such; roles like these are the fun part of being an actor.

Years ago, you had set up a production company with some friends in Bengaluru. How come you shifted to acting?
I have always loved acting, even before this company was formed. I studied filmmaking and my tryst with the camera started when I started doing theatre, in Bengaluru itself. It wasn’t large scale — I did some roles here and there — but the more I acted, the more I got hooked onto it.
I am also a big fan of watching movies. The concept of many people coming together to tell one story seems fascinating. 

We heard you used to make short films...
I still like making short films, it’s my favourite format. Whenever I am not acting, I get together with some of my friends from the industry and we work on some projects. In fact, one of my films was part of the Vienna Short Film Festival, 2019.

If you were behind the camera, how did you get noticed in the film industry?
Theatre helped me get a break. I worked with Rajit Kapur and Shernaz Patel in their production company ‘Rage’, one of the most popular ones in Mumbai. I was initially doing backstage work but my first break on stage happened in Rajit’s play ‘Mahua’. Then I met others in the circuit, did some more plays and started getting noticed by casting directors.

So that’s how movies happened...
Yes. Many of the associates of casting directors come from a theatre background. They recommended my name to their seniors and I got called for auditions.  I must have given 300 auditions. All of them said they liked my work but I didn’t fit the part I was trying for. 
By the way, I love giving auditions, even today. I tell others, don’t think about whether you will get the role or not. Think of it as a workshop where you get to practice your craft. 
After many trials, I landed ‘Rock On 2’ and ‘Bang Baaja Baaraat’.

One thing you don’t like about being an actor?
I don’t like getting pictures clicked or dressing up for events. But you have to do this, dress up, behave in a certain manner and smile for cameras, even if you don’t want to. It’s another act that we have to put up. 

There seems to be a clash between digital content and films these days. Do you have a favourite?
I want to do both. Films have a different personality and charm while web series reach millions of people at the same time. For example, ‘Upstarts’ is releasing in 119 countries. You get responses from across the world. I was once offered free treatment by a doctor in Taiwan because his son saw ‘Bhavesh Joshi’ in Chinese.

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