Posted On:07 January 2010 at 12:00am
I was born in Chandigarh and thus the
name Gurmeet! My dad was in the army and so I got a chance to roam the
entire country with him. I've studied in Srinagar, Jammu, Jabalpur,
Badhgar...Yes, I have travelled to a lot of places. While my dad served
the country, I studied in the army school in various cities and
towns he would be placed in. My childhood was totally army based, somehow
since class 2 I had a desperate attraction towards the field of acting. When asked
by my class teacher back then, what I want to grow up to be, many laughed
off my 'hero' answer but I actually did have the determination and passion
to become one someday. I would take part in class dramas and skits.
I knew I had to work for it very hard, having an army background and
that too a zero-filmy one. So I did my bit like learning dance, participating
in stage performances, acting-theater classes etc. Then I came to the
city of dreams-Mumbai for my studies, along with which I enrolled myself
at Shiamak Davar's dance institute. I learnt dance there for a couple
of months after which I left the city of Mumbai. Soon I came back having realized that if I would try my luck in the acting industry after completing
my studies, at around 25-26 years of age, then it might become really
late. And entering, getting used to the new environment, earning a name
and fame it all takes time! So might as well start as soon as possible,
obviously studying simultaneously as well. So I did an acting course
in Mumbai. I was on my own here although always had my dad's support.
It all started with a very nominal amount of income. I stayed with a
few of my friends in a small flat. They helped me a lot and soon I got
my portfolio done. I took up a few small roles, did some episodes which
were not very contentful but my motive to do them anyway was to gain
some understanding, than none at all! I was offered music videos and
took them up as well. I had done some serials here and there after which
I met a girl called Debina Bonnerjee.
In 2004, there was a
Sahara Bollywood star contest held, where actors from all over the country
were auditioned, and the winner would obviously be well promoted. Debina
came in from Kolkata and me from Mumbai. Only 15 were shortlisted and
the two of us belonged to this shortlisted lot. We were held up at a
5-star hotel here in Mumbai. We never really had any kind of conversation
actually. It was only confined to the eye sight! Yes, once in a while
joking around or just a simple hi-hello was exchanged but nothing beyond.
Then one day, we were all sitting for dinner in the hotel where Debina
was seated next to me. I casually asked her where she's from and where
she stayed before entering into this contest. She replied Adarshnagar
and I faked that I was from there too and how we must get married! I
told her I would talk to her parents for her hand and we would live
happily ever after in Adarshnagar! And truthfully this was all said
with non seriousness at all! I guess it turned out to be one of those
things that we just happen to say and turn true
After the contest, Debina bought a
flat and we had a common friend from the contest, thus meeting and keeping
in touch was always on even post the contest. Time past and very soon
we realized we were smitten by each other! We struggled together though
I was not as financially strong as her. But Debina was always my pillar
of support... she was my family! She held my hand when times were rough
and always pushed me forward when I would slacken. Fortunately I always
groomed myself and worked on my acting, action and dance skills. Because
this industry has cut throat competition and I believe what leaves a remarkable
impression behind is impactful acting, not just plain acting. So my
self-preparation was progressing. Debina was familiar and experienced
with the South industry and had done good work there. She introduced
me to a director from there who offered me a villain's role in a 3-D
serial while Debina was the actress. "Mayavi"
(the 3-D serial) was well received especially in South India. There
was the 'Seoul festival'
for 3-D movies where our serial was screened. It was a hit and we even
bagged an award for it after which it was even shown at Mumbai. Suddenly
I felt from within that now I was prepared for films and I should start
trying for them. That is when Subhash Ghaiji's Mukta Arts was making
a film in Goa. It was a one month shoot. I was shortlisted and wrapped
that up soon. But unfortunately like the many films in Bollywood, this one
too is over delayed for release but will hopefully come onto the big screen some
day! Soon I was then offered a role in "Ramayan".
A lot of people
told me how I should or shouldn't do it since its mythology! But I've
always maintained in all my interviews too, how I'm eager to do something
different and not ordinary. In this industry that is what works and
long lasts! So I thought trying for "Ramayan" would be something
hatke! I went for the auditions, and got selected for Ram's role!
I was extremely happy! I asked Debina too to try out the auditions and
she bagged the role of Sita! When we announced this to all our friends
and family, they were very surprised and couldn't stop congratulating
us! Because being in a relationship for four years, and then playing
such a holy couple on-screen, was quite a 'mythological' coincidence!
I was very, very happy! More so with the reviews I got. Many of the
fans said they began watching the show after seeing Ram. It was a moment
of pride for me...I would be spotted and called out as 'Ram'! The show
had earned me so much fame and love! But obviously an actor would want
to be known for his own name.
Then came along 'Pati, Patni aur Woh'! The timing couldn't have been better. It was a totally different concept. The remaining sections of the audience who probably didn't watch 'Ramayan' watched this reality show and here too Debina and I were so well-received, that we garnered the highest number of votes! After 'Ramayan' our world did change but after 'Pati Patni aur Woh', it leaped forward and positively even more! Fans would yell out 'Guru' on seeing me because of Debina calling me that on the show. It felt wonderful. More so since they never hesitated in approaching me. I think they sensed the no-attitude in me and felt familiar. So after this show, we were finally known by our real names and we continue talking to our fans as friends whenever we meet them. It's very informal and homely.
This has been my struggle so far. I'm
content with how things have worked for Debina and me. Now the struggle
is on for our marriage! We cannot wait to walk the seven rounds and
even tried for this year but there are certain things we both need to
still work on. Once those have been completed, along with discussing
matters with our respective families, we will confirm a date soon for
this year itself!
Posted in: Journey
Posted On:07 January 2010 at 12:00am
I'm from Kolkata! I had no dreams
of becoming an actress or model or doctor or engineer. Then in 1994
when Sushmita Sen won the Miss Universe, I remember was in class four
or five. Her victory was well promoted all over in children magazines,
posters, news papers and so on. After seeing them, I thought that if
one Bengali can win a crown, why can't one more? So that's when
I nurtured the thought of being the next one, but never had the courage
to tell my parents about quitting studies and entering the modeling
world. I did groom myself as I grew up with looking after my skin and
fitness, keeping up to the latest fashion trends, etc. I even worked
at my studies simultaneously. My parents told me that if I would be
good at something, they wouldn't ever turn me down from whatever I
wanted to do. So to get their approval for modeling, I pushed myself
up from a below average student to a rank holder! Then is when I considered
telling my parents about my inclination. So one day I casually told
my parents while reading the advertisement from the news paper about
the Ms. Calcutta contest. My mom said a no, but my dad agreed which
I least expected! My mom had to give in
I participated and reached the final
20. But I was out in the first round. Instead of going home, I sat through
it till the end just to see what the winner had in her that I lacked.
It wasn't taken by me in a defeated way, but in a healthy way. Then
after that I took part in other contests like Lakme which I won, and
so did Reshmi Ghosh. She was already an established model then. I took
part in the Ms. Calcutta contest again next year and won that one!
Then is when I regained my confidence and made sure I only went up from there. I don't take defeat at face value but instead as learning experience. Along with all this I pursued my studies as my family is filled with graduates and I of course didn't want to be the odd one out! My family is a very literate family. After graduating, I told my parents I wanted to try my luck in Mumbai. My father supported me and I'm sure without my family's good wishes, I wouldn't have got anywhere. I came to Mumbai with just one suitcase. Before coming here, I gave my entry for the Ms. Bollywood Contest organized by Sahara and was called to Mumbai. Then is when I first saw this city. Through this contest is when I met Gurmeet. Then I came back to Calcutta but wished for Mumbai again. So from the 30 people I knew via the contest, I only called the close ones before coming. I had called Gurmeet who was excited and said he would come receive me at the airport but didn't show up! Thank God to be on the safer side, I had also called another friend of mine...She did come and I stayed in with her for a week before becoming a PG and then bought my own flat. One early morning I was walking through Juhu and a director from the South came up to me showing me my picture, asking if that was me. I said yes! He asked me why I didn't write my contact number on it and didn‚‚t go for the auditions he had held for the past four days! I told him I didn't mind auditioning now and did at someone's office that I knew. He liked my audition and said he must cast me in his film. It was an Anandiyadi production, the house that boasts of Gemini and Sun TV in the South. This I had no clue about! He auditioned me for the second lead but ended giving me first lead. I didn't quite show any excitement thinking things are final only when proved final! He told me I'd be over the moon after 15 days when I would be sent the contract. Then is when I was excited and had a very good time shooting. We had a big banner, great music and dance, some of the best locations in the south like the Ramuji Film City...So that's how my journey in the south began. I immediately signed my next film with Shivraj Kumar in Kannada and another in Tamil with Captian Vijaykanth. Serials weren't really on my mind as of then!
Meanwhile I kept meeting Gurmeet often. His friend and my flat mate were dating. The four of us had met through the Sahara Contest. One day I told Gurmeet how his friend was taking advantage of his friendship and used him only for transportation because they were at Bandra and we at Oshiwara. Gurmeet would drop him back home at two and three in the morning! So basically Gurmeet and I started with my care and concern for him. I felt the need to protect him. I don't like nonsense of this sort and cannot stand wrong. I got out of that PG flat and Gurmeet drove me around on his bike to find me another place to live. We found me a flat and since then, we understood each other and our needs very well. We had no friends except each other and from then on, our comfort levels been fantastic. Around then I got a 3-D serial offer. But I was not keen on serials. However, Gurmeet auditioned and took it up. It was his first break! He was to fly to Bangalore for the shoot but just two days before had caught malaria! He was very upset since he wanted to do this project very badly. I even went to drop him to the airport for his flight in the morning but he was just not in the state to go. So I contacted the serial team and vouched for Gurmeet reaching there by the evening flight. I got him home and after following his medications and injections, he flew in the evening, reached there in the chilling winter weather, gave his shot, called me and said that he was fine! I was so proud of him! It was wonderful to have him do what his heart wanted to do, even though his brain and body were not in sync. Gurmeet's determination helped him. One week after the shoot, he told me how good the project was and the team, cast and crew too. It was 3-D on Television for the first time in Asia, history by itself! He insisted I try out for it so I did. Unfortunately the girl who had shot for a week was replaced by me! I do feel guilty at times but then again, if you want something, you must go for it. I‚‚m very glad I did it. This project even went for the Seon Film Festival and won the first prize in the foreign film category. This project proved better for Gurmeet. He not only played the negative role, but also the parallel lead. The places we shot at were not well equipped and in remote villages. Gurmeet did all the stunts without a stunt man and did a fabulous job! He left his impressions in everyone's heart as a good and fun human being, as well as a talented actor with tremendous potential.
After that is when "Ramayan"
happened to us. Guru tried for the auditions and asked me too. So once
again I followed him and we were to play Ram and Sita. In the first
week itself, the production house got many calls on how Gurmeet was
so widely and happily accepted as Ram. This had set a high expectation
on me to play Sita as well, if not better. The script writers had modified
Sita‚‚s role and added fire and justice into her personality to make
it more relatable to today‚‚s woman. They were all impressed as to
how naturally it came from within for me. There were times when I would
get so engrossed into my role that I would cry on the injustice Sita
would have to bear! I started feeling very strongly for my role. Once
I thought I needed psychiatric help, I was so into my character! I remember
how on the last day I cried rivers without any glycerin help! It was
a big deal for me, because being able to touch the audience is hard
enough, but to move your colleagues, who know you are acting as they
are at the same too, is harder or maybe hardest! During my last shot,
as all of us were viewing it, many of my costars cried, including Gurmeet!
It was a special episode for me and made me realize how many people
I might have touched. After that 'Pati Patni aur Woh' came by which
Gurmeet and I both thought was perfect for us to get out of the mythological
characters' moulds, set free and get ourselves identified as and by
our real names. Now I'm working on myself, ready for more interesting
and diverse projects, as challenging as can be
Posted in: Journey
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