Successive hits and a National Award later, actor Vicky Kaushal vividly remembers his time as a newcomer four years ago and says he owes his career to first-time directors.
The actor, who was first noticed in the then debutant director Neeraj Ghaywan's 2015 social drama "Masaan", said every film is a new project for both the actor and the filmmaker.
He later collaborated with a string of new directing talent like Mozez Singh for "Zubaan", Anand Tiwari for "Love Per Square Foot", and Aditya Dhar for "Uri: The Surgical Strike", for which the actor earned the best actor National Award.
"I owe my career to debutant directors, so I'm quite used to working with first timers. I just read the script and if I am sold on that, I meet the director to understand his vision. If I sense clarity and vision there, that's what I am sold to.
"I was also a newcomer at one point of time, I'm only four years old here. I am no veteran. Every film is a new film. I am as new as the director for that film and story. We have to work with that spirit. I tried to bring out the same fire in every film that I had in my first film," Vicky told PTI in an interview here.
But the 31-year-old actor is more excited about working with a new director as they bring a "scared energy" to the film sets.
With his upcoming horror film "Bhoot: The Haunted Ship" too, Vicky is joining hands with debutant director Bhanu Pratap Singh, who served as assistant director on "Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania" (2014).
"There is a different sort of enthusiasm which comes on board. That energy is not an energy which takes things for granted. It's a scared energy and that brings out something special," he said.
The actor has always maintained he is no horror buff but it was the story, based on a true incident of a stranded cargo ship at Juhu Beach, that found him.
He said unlike "Sanju" where he needed to learn a dialect for the character or "Uri" which demanded physical transformation, essaying the role of Prithvi was a pretty much a straight line.
"It was more about adapting to the new grammar. It was something I was not so prepared for. I had underestimated the horror genre before doing this film quite a lot. In horror, timing has to be correct, everything has to fall in the right place at the right time, all departments work in sync to make that one shot," he added.
Vicky said the team has attempted to present the horror genre in its truest form -- with jump scares and atmospherics.
"'Bhoot' is not just about jump scares but it is also about the mood that keeps you on your toes when you watch it. We have tried to stay true to the genre. There are no unnecessary subplots.
"We have not tried to lure the audience with making a nice musical album where people are like 'let's go to watch the songs' or turning into a romantic horror or horror comedy. They have been made over the years." Asked his first memory of a horror film, Vicky remembered how scared he was after watching Ram Gopal Varma's "Raat".
"I don't remember what I saw but I remember being very scared for days altogether. I used to be scared thinking that Revathy ma'am, with those glassy eyes, will come out of anywhere. It is only after I grew up, I realised that she wore lenses," he recalled. The actor has played diverse roles in his Bollywood career, but he said there is a "certain awareness" that one has to be careful while playing real-life characters, a number of which are lined up in his future filmography.
He is set to play Udham Singh in Shoojit Sircar's biopic on the revolutionary, Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in Karan Johar's period drama "Takht" and 1971 war hero Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw in Meghna Gulzar's "Sam".
"You follow the vision of the writer and director but while playing a real character, you can't take a lot of liberties. Some of the characters that I will be playing next, they were real people who existed at one point of time and you can't change history. Aurangzeb has been documented in texts and Udham Singh has been more like a legend.
"But people are much more aware about Sam Manekshaw. There are videos of the man, a more recent figure. I feel more responsible towards playing him. Every person has a 'sur' (tone) so besides how he looked, walked and talked, I have to get that right. Out of all the true life characters that I am playing, Manekshaw scares me the most," he said.
Last two years have been a game changer for Vicky and the actor is in no mood to slow down.
"I have spent my initial days so freely... Only knocking on so many doors, trying to make it to the offices to convince people that I want to be an actor. Now that God is giving me this.
"I'm not getting time to sleep and sit with my family but my hunger has not gone, I've become more hungry. I have spent enough time wanting this and now that it has come, I really want more of this," he said.
The actor will start prepping for "Takht" after "Bhoot" hits the screens.
Also starring Bhumi Pednekar and Ashutosh Rana, the film is slated to be released on Friday.