Do you feel nepotism exists in Gujarati cinema too?
First, we have to understand that nepotism and depression are two different things. Nepotism might cause depression. But it’s not the same. I think nepotism exists everywhere, when I say everywhere, it exists in hotels, it exists in insurance, banking, airlines, politics, cricket, sports, Bollywood, Hollywood, Tollywood, Dollywood anything you say. Nepotism is everywhere. What happens here is, if you are a businessman’s child, once you grow up, you will handle your dad’s business. Even if your secretary or your assistant is smarter than you, you being the son will run the business no matter what. Nepotism exists in Gujarati cinema too. There is nothing wrong with it. Because it’s the part and parcel of the trade, one needs to learn how to deal with it and find their own identity.
Have you been a victim of nepotism ever? How do you think the issue can be handled?
I have had experiences like that a lot of times. In this industry, when we have to do a role, either you have to do it or someone else will. Now, if you don’t get the role, you are going to be very upset but that doesn’t mean only that particular role was meant for you. There are more which come your way. So, I think when I was the victim of nepotism, I had to just think positive of myself and say that maybe this was not for me, never meant for me and it didn’t come to me. You have to move on. Handling the situation will happen at the right time.
I think people should be very fair to the talents that have come and put faith and trust in the new talents. Film industry is a public domain just because it is made for the public but it’s not like that even for the selection of CEOs and boards of directors in big companies. Their selection is done by the company MD, so it is the same as in the film industry. Actors are picked mostly by producers and directors. But just because the film industry is an open market, people speak anything they want and think is their right to say. Be it politics, cricket or films, people speak anything as it’s a public domain and is part of people as well. For example, Cricket is a game played on behalf of India, so definitely, everyone has the right to speak about the team selection and individual players too. Talking about politicians, they provide public services, but film is not for public services, film is a business and is a private business. They don’t put a gun on the audience’s head and say that you have to watch this. So, anybody can watch and ignore it. For example, we have Aditya Chopra who is the biggest producer in the country. Uday Chopra also tried acting but never succeeded. So, there’s nothing like nepotism is ruining things and it should be handled by itself. It’s all in the hands of the audience to make stars.
Do you feel depression is a serious mental health problem that needs to be handled with care?
I seriously believe and the whole world believes that asking this question about depression itself is a sensitive thing. My friends are suffering from depression and after Sushant, people are now more exposed to this topic. It is a very serious issue because from where we come, it is taught that one should not cry and one must always stay strong. But at one point in time, one needs to accept the fact and find a solution. It is a very sensitive issue because depression is the thought process that goes in your mind and because of that some kind of chemical imbalance happens. This is why a physiatrist treats it with tablets which keep people happy. Also, people are so busy these days that there is no time to pay attention to such issues but depression certainly needs to be handled with care because not only actors but also many other normal people too are suffering from this issue. Times are bad, both economically and mentally and having said that, we all must stand by each other and help each other out.
Have you ever felt so hopeless that you wanted to quit everything? How did you deal with it?
I have felt hopeless and I wanted to quit a couple of times. I was in depression after Holiday released, I even sold my motorcycle. And I still had to remain strong then. Every time I feel like quitting, I remember why I started all of this. If you have started with passion and love for art, then you must not quit. I asked myself why and the answer was: I came here because I wanted to do something, I love acting and that is the only reason why I am here. I did not start to become a billionaire. Of course, everybody wants to become a billionaire but the answer is you started because you love it. It’s a competition. There is always a gain or a loss. One must accept it and move on. At the same time, you also have to find out what your real happiness is. Do you think money and fame will give you happiness? Because as I grew up, I understood that happiness is dependent on a lot of other factors. Today, if my family is healthy and happy, that is a big thing. There are a lot of families and people out there who aren’t in the right place. So, you must think about what exactly makes you happy. Every time I felt like quitting, I always asked myself, ‘Why?’ and the answer to it was, ‘Because I love what I do’.