Meet Sumeet Vyas, The Quintessential Boy Next Door
Strictly speaking, he calls Jodhpur his hometown, but the 34-year-old, who has been living in Mumbai for the last three decades, feels fondly for the maximum city. The City of Dreams must feel the same way about him; it has clearly given him its blessings. In other words, he is here to stay. His future looks bright and sparkly (like a star?) in the entertainment capital of the country.
Sumeet Vyas may have only recently made his Bollywood debut as a protagonist in Ribbon late last year — where he finely held his own opposite Kalki Koechlin — but he is already a familiar face, thanks to his outings on stage, television, web and the big screen. If one had to pinpoint a turning point, it would be India’s very first web series, 2014’s Permanent Roommates, which made Sumeet a household name almost overnight. But, even in smaller roles, he has been memorable, and his work in films like English Vinglish (2012) and Parched (2016) has not gone unnoticed.
On pursuing acting as a career, Sumeet quips, “I realised at a very young age that I’m an excellent liar, and that I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that people believed all my stories.” He notes that he found his calling when he went to watch a play, at Prithvi Theatre at the age of 17. We tell him that we dig his screen presence as well as the tension-packed scenes between Koechlin and him in Ribbon, only to have the well-mannered young man brush the compliment aside lightly. He doesn’t get “this chemistry business”, he says, attributing it to “being present in the scene” and having a certain amount of trust in the co-actor.
What draws Sumeet to a project? “The script — and the people involved in it. I want to be a part of projects where people are itching to tell that story…and not because it is a great package or business proposal.” On his next, Veere Di Wedding (VDW), slated for a May release, he says, “Doing VDW was a little unnerving in the beginning as the scale is huge, and I was working with one of the biggest stars of our country. But Kareena (Kapoor Khan) is an absolute treat to work with. And once you are in character, you forget about everything else. The only problem is that she’s distractingly gorgeous!”
Excerpts from an interview….
“I would like to count English Vinglish (2012) as my first real break. I went, auditioned for the part, and forgot about it. A couple of months later they called back, saying, ‘You’ve been selected!’ Then they said that we’ll be shooting in New York, and that got me really excited! Although my part (Salman Khan, a Pakistani taxi driver) was liked, no one knew who I was, and most casting directors thought I was a Pakistani actor. So, I didn’t get any work after the release of the film!”
“I’ve been acting since 2000, but it’s only now that people have sort of warmed up to me. I’ve done it all — theatre, TV, films, ad films, writing, directing. But I still feel like it’s just begun. I still feel a little tingle in my stomach before I step on stage or hear the director call out, ‘Action!’ And I hope that I have that even after I gain lots of experience.”
“Permanent Roommates changed my life. It kinda opened a new chapter in the field of entertainment in India. It was the first web series ever made in the country and it still is the most-watched Indian web series. The reason it became so popular is because it was perhaps the most contemporary and realistic love story of its time. Not all love stories have to have a Romeo and Juliet kind of a storyline. Mostly couples have very unceremonious conflicts, about who’ll turn the fan on once they are both settled into bed or how long you have to be on your knees while proposing to your girl (’cause it hurts if the moment lasts too long…no matter how romantic it is)…. I don’t think doing films is a step up from web series. And I feel the web series is a fairly new format in India; give it a few years and it’ll be bigger than any other medium there is today.”
“Kareena (Kapoor Khan) is a superstar and she’s a thorough professional. VDW is a very special film and I’m really looking forward to seeing the final product…. I knew Kalki since before I started acting in TV or films. We belong to the theatre community. Ribbon is a very different film. It was shot in a more docudrama-ish format, with long takes and no cuts, hence it was a very different kind of an experience.”
- Favourite actors “Javier Bardem, Emma Stone.”
- Dream collaboration “If I could, I would love to collaborate with Woody Allen in my lifetime. Because he’s told every story that I could possibly imagine. I’ve seen all his films. Also Alejandro González Iñárritu. He’s special, and it’d be a dream come true if I get to work with him.”
- Favourite film “Secret Superstar and Ribbon (both 2017).”
- Favourite web series “Black Mirror and Voot Original’s Stupid Man Smart Phone.”
- Go-to TV show “I don’t watch TV.”
- A role you’d give an arm and a leg for? “The title role in Shahid (2013)…Rajkummar Rao is just brilliant as the titular character.”