Sitting comfortably on his couch, 'One Night Stand' actor Tanuj Virwani welcomed me with a smile and was gracious and bindaas enough to answer all kind of questions- right from his own one nights stands to his family crisis.
Excerpts from the conversation-
Q. What's your opinion on one night stands?
A. I am absolutely fine with the concept of one night stands. I don't come from that school of thought where it is frown upon or looked down upon. I think it's fine as long as both the parties are on the same page. One should never lie to the person with whom you are going to have a one night stand. There should be no strings attached. Secondly make sure you are single. You should not break someone's heart or their home.
Q. Are these your thoughts only post doing this film?
A. No. Look we live in an age and time where people's perception about relationships have changed. There is a saying- 'You have to kiss many frogs before you find your prince'. But one should be careful not to break someone's heart in the entire process.
Q. The general promo shows that the film may or may not be a thriller but it has some kind of message. Is that true?
A. Yes. You are right.. it may or may not be a thriller but it definitely has a message. I think that it is very important in the garb of entertainment if we are able to give a positive message to the audience to show what we stand by. It's like this is what we want to tell you, whether you want to accept it or not that's your choice in the end. It is important to have a message but at the same thing it shouldn't be just forced into the film for the want of it. It should be organic. It's a simple thing. I mean if a guy has many affairs, he is called a stud. But if a woman were to indulge in that in our society then she is called a slut.
Q. What was your first reaction when a woman director (Jasmine D' Souza) approached you for this film?
A. When I went for the audition I wasn't told the name of the film and who my co-star was. All I was told that it's a reasonably big film. So I just went for the test. Once the director and producers finalized me, they revealed that the leading lady of the film will be Sunny Leone and the film's name is 'One Night Stand'. My first reaction was- "Is there anything for me to do in the film?" I then asked Jasmine for a short narration. And the producer was like you are quite a demanding newcomer (laughs). She then gave me a narration and then I realized that there's lot more to my role in the film. The main crux of the film is observing the relationship between these two people. The film revolves around how a one night stand affects all the equations in relationships.
Q. In real life, have you ever had a one night stand?
A. Arey, what kind of questions do you guys ask (laughs). Look, I have never been a 'doodh mein dhulaa hua bachcha'. I had been in college. I have had my fair share of good times and fun. So yes I may have had a couple of one night stands here and there. But at that time, it wasn't given a tag because it wasn't in vogue to say 'one night stand'.
Q. How did your mom react to the concept of the film?
A. She was a little taken back when she heard the name of the film. So I asked Jasmine to give her a narration and she was like- 'I think that this is a proper legit story and the makers are trying to convey a message. You have a good role in the film so you should take it up.' So she is definitely of the opinion that I should do this film.
Q. This film is quite different from what you have played in your previous flicks..
A. To be honest, you hope every film lives up to people's expectations, in your career. When I was promoting 'Purani Jeans' I hoped that would be the film. Today we are here talking about 'One Night Stand' and I hope that this is the film. But you cannot live without hope. All I can do is focus on the process and give it my best shot. First as an actor and now as a salesman of my film. Tomorrow if the audience deems it right it will do well. You can't put all your eggs in one basket. Obviously if this film does well then it will open up a lot of avenues for me. I don't think about the result. Instead I focus more on the process.
Q. Did you at any point of time asked Jasmine to tone down the intimate scenes?
A. Actually I think that it was the other way round. (laughs) On a serious note I think that there should be mutual trust between the directors and the actors especially when you are doing the bold scenes. Because if there is no trust you will be always uncomfortable and you can't lie in front of the camera. People will know that you are just faking it. It has to be realistic and at the same time look aesthetic and sensual. So Jasmine gave us a storyboard explaining each and every shot. It's very mechanical when you are doing it on sets.
Q. How was it working with Sunny Leone?
A. It was awesome working with her. I think she is my gracious and sweetest co-star till date. Earlier I was a bit apprehensive about working with a star that she is, but luckily everyone was treated on the same level. She is so patient, learns all her dialogues and comes on time on the sets. She would always respect the director. She proved to me exactly why she is so successful.
Q. What draws you to a film- script or the director?
A. Talking about 'One Night Stand' there were three things that drew me to the film. First of course was the content. I was like if it's a sleaze-fest that I am not doing it because there won't be anything for me to do in it. But 'One Night Stand' has a story with a message in it. That definitely attracted me towards the film.Secondly was my co-star. Unfortunately my first couple of films had relative newcomers who were also like me. So there wasn't much face value. People didn't recognize us. From a financial and box office point of view it is very difficult for us to get people in for the first day of the box office or the first Friday which is a very important thing. Sunny (Leone) is a saleable star and has a huge fan base. People wait for her films and songs. I was like if I can get people to watch my film courtesy someone who is already an established star, then who am I to complain? I am not a star right now. If I can ride on their stardom so that people come and hopefully appreciate my work in the film itself then there's nothing wrong in that. These are the important factors and thirdly I have a damn good role in the film. Don't go by the poster where you get to see only my back! (laughs). I can assure you that you would be seeing a lot more than just the back. There is a lot for me to do as an actor in this film. It's pretty exciting to play a character with shades of grey, almost like an anti-hero. I consider myself very fortunate.
Q. These days a lot of films have bold content. What's your take on it?
A. Films today are basically a reflection of the times that we live in. Back in the days when you wanted to show the hero and his heroine kissing then you would show two flowers. Then they got a little bolder where they would be shown just kissing next to the lip. The envelope was further pushed when Mallika Sherawat arrived in the industry and then there became a fad to put kissing scenes in a film. Today's generation has became very bindass. Sometimes when I go out in nightclubs and see the youngsters I feel so old.
Q. What do you have to say about the censorship prevailing these days?
A. I don't want to get into any trouble.(smiles) But I personally feel that it's about time they review the age and time that we live in because there is so much access online with the internet. I shudder to think that tomorrow when I get married and have children, how am I going to keep them away from all of these? Today everything is available at the click of a button.
Q. Who are you dating these days?
A. These days (laughs)..bas mein aur meri tanhai..I have lots of friends but I am not dating anyone.
Q. We had read about you and Akshara Haasan...
A. Even I read about that. After that I called her up and we started laughing over it. She then called up her sister Shruti (Haasan) and we all laughed. I think that we have never denied the fact that we are friends. I know that sounds very clinched in the industry. Honestly there is nothing more to it. I am married to my work.
Q. Your parents had some problem in their marital life sometime back. How did it affect you?
A. Everyone goes through ups and downs in their life personally, professionally and in every way. There is no point in pretending like nothing happened. Having said that there are two things that could have happened at that point. Either I would have just gone into a shell or I would have kept dignified silence not adding anything more to the circus that already had been created. There was a lot of emotions that I faced. I was confused, I was angry. Of course in such a case you can't take a stand. Your loyalties are divided equally. I love both my parents equally. It was at that time I was approached for 'One Night Stand'. So I decided to just take out all that and turn it into something positive. 'One Night Stand' is a very intense film that requited me to be in a certain state of mind. By the grace of God, touchwood, everything is now fine.
Q. What's your dream role?
A. I would like to do an Indianised version of 'Scarface'. I would also love to do any of those roles from 'Rang De Basanti' because for me that film is perfection.