His life story sounds straight from a Bollywood film. A small town boy with starry dreams in his eyes, a series of rejections in auditions but Gaurav Arora knew that acting was his first love. Eventually after years of being a supermodel he finally bagged his first Bollywood debut in the form of Vikram Bhatt's 'Love Games'. The film sank at the box office without any trace but for Gaurav, failure is a stepping stone to success.
He is now gearing for his second film 'Raaz Reboot' which has him sharing screen space with Emraan Hashmi and Kriti Kharbanda. Days before the film hits the silver screen the actor bares his heart in a candid chat with us at the Vishesh Films office.
Excerpts from the conversation-
Tell us something about your character in the film
A. I play a guy named Rehaan Khanna. It's a very intense character with lot of grey shades. He doesn't talk much and is an introvert. He speaks through his eyes. Basically my character Rehaan and Shaina (Kriti Kharbanda) meet in Romania, then they fall in love and get married and move to Mumbai. The film starts when from Mumbai they go back to Romania when Rehaan bags a job there. A lot of secrets lie in that place which are later revealed in the film. Emraan who plays Shaina's past comes back in her life. The best part of the film is that you will keep guessing the mystery till the end.
How was your working experience with Emraan Hashmi?
A.It was nice. I think we only shot for two-three days together but they were important scenes. He is very unlike of what you see him on on-screen. He is a gentleman, down to earth guy (smiles). He is very hard-working. Every time he came on the sets he knew his lines like a pro. He doesn't talk much.
How does it feel to be a part of 'Raaz' franchise?
A.When I was shooting for 'Love Games' Vikram Sir offered me this film on the fourth day of the shoot. Earlier in India people used to associate horror films with A-rated content unsuitable for kids but 'Raaz' is a franchise which brought this genre in the commercial mainstream zone. I was more than happy to be a part of a successful franchise like this. Since it already has an dedicated audience, it gives me a bigger platform as an actor. It gives me an opportunity to showcase my talent. People can decide if I deserve to be here or not.
Emraan has been a part of the previous two 'Raaz' films whereas you are the new addition. Does that add any kind of pressure of you?
A.I never thought of it that way. In fact when the director told me that Emraan was also a part, I felt that it would add a lot of value to the film. Already it's a big film and then you have a bigger actor like him, it adds more to the movie. I was more than happy to be a part of this film rather than being under pressure or anything like that.
You said your character has many shades to it. Was that a challenge for you?
A.In my debut film 'Love Games' I played an extrovert, party animal with drug addiction. On the other hand in 'Raaz Reboot' my character is an absolute introvert who doesn't talk much and has grey shades. So somewhere as an actor it was a very good opportunity for me to switch over roles within four months. It's quite challenging to do a horror film. I had a great time shooting for it.
Can we say that you are drawn more towards dark characters?
A.No, it's nothing like that. I would love to do romantic roles too. What happens is that in the beginning it's not you who choose the films. It's the film that chooses you. So that's what is happening with me. But again at the same time when you go and watch 'Raaz Reboot' you will see that it's a great film for me to be a part of. It's not just horror. There is a very strong love story in it too. But I would love to do a rom-com or an action film. That's what an actor thrives upon.
Do you have any dream roles?
A.Many. Actually I would love to do a Top Gun someday or something like the 'Rocky' series.
Any directors in your wishlist?
A.That's a never-ending list. (laughs). I would love to work with Imtiaz Ali, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee, Mani Ratnam, Karan Johar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali..so I can go on and on.
People generally carry a certain perception about Bollywood horror films and very few ones live up to the mark at the box office. What's your take on it?
A.'Raaz' is a franchise that actually brought horror films on the map. Hollywood films like 'The Conjuring' and others have done so well in India. So there is a huge market for this genre. Film-makers and actors are a little apprehensive about this genre but I think it will slowly change with times.
Have you experienced paranormal activities in real life?
A.No, I haven't. But I don't mind experiencing it once. Though I don't believe in it much but I respect those who believe in it. But I would only believe in it if I experience it myself.
Your debut film 'Love Games' didn't leave up to the expectations. Did that demotivate you?
A.Of course it affected me because at the end of the day it was my first film. We all were expecting a lot from it but it didn't do well. So somewhere we were wrong in the execution. The audience is never wrong. So somewhere we did go wrong. Obviously it did hurt. But I had another film to fall back upon (Raaz Reboot) so this movie is very important for me. I hope it does well. (smiles)
So what kept you going in such hard times?
A.I have been here for about 10 years and have gone through a series of rejections. So I am used to it now. You have to go through all this to get to the point. You learn to value your success only after all the failures.
Your film is locking horns with Amitabh Bachchan-Taapsee Pannu starrer 'Pink' which is a social thriller. So how do you see the box office clash?
A.It's just two films coming on the same day. I have seen Fridays which had 5 to 7 films. If a film is good irrespective of the fact whether it's coming out with four other films or the way it is promoted or whatever, word-of-mouth is the best way to publicize today. If you make a good film it will do well whether it is a five hour or a two hour movie. Talking about 'Pink' I have a huge amount of respect for Bachchan Sir and I really hope that someday I get to work with him.
Any tip you would like to give to aspiring actors?
A.It's a very difficult thing to get into this industry. You have to be here only if you believe in yourself and you are passionate about films. Only then you should come for it otherwise it will make you cry and see the worst. If you believe in your dreams then nothing can stop you.
What's next in the pipeline?
A.I have a three film deal with Vishesh films. So there are a few things. We are working upon it. If this does well then there will be a lot more but everything depends on this film.
Would we get to see you on the small screen or web-series anytime soon?
A.I don't know ya. Right now I would love to do films and this is what I actually came for here in Mumbai. So I hope that this really works out. But if something nice is offered on small screen then why not. If the content is good then definitely I would love to do web-series too because it's got a huge audience today.