The movie, Class of ’83 that released on Netflix marked the launch of 5 new actors and we had a rather interesting conversation with one of them. Take a look at our tête-à-tête, with the talented new actor on the block – Hitesh Bhojraj.

Netflix recently released the film Class of ’83, a starring Bobby Deol. The OTT release is Produced by Shah Rukh Khan‘s Red Chillies Entertainment and also marks its third collaboration with the streaming platform. The movie was received well and besides Atul Sabharwal’s apt depiction of the 80s and all its elements. Netflix describes the film as – ‘A hero policeman shunted to a punishment posting as the Dean of the police academy decides to punish the corrupt bureaucracy and its criminal allies in return by training five lethal assassin policemen. But, like all good plans, it only works for a while until the fire that he has ignited threatens to burn his own house down.’ And just as the description suggests the movie is just as much about the five assassin policemen in training as it is about their Dean, played by Bobby. The movie has also been garnering attention as it marks the launch of Hitesh Bhojraj along with four other actors.

We recently had a conversation with Hitesh Bhojraj and here are some excerpts from it:

Coming from a theatre background, what made you take up acting in a film? How was the experience? How different is the acting for theatre vs. acting for a film? 

“Theatre is my first love and that will never change but taking up acting in films was my goal too. My experience was lovely; it was the first time I was creating a character for a camera. Before this, I have been doing ads, ads usually don’t have a graph, start middle and an end for characters per se, here there was a beautiful graph for Varde. Acting on stage versus acting in films is not very different from each other. The only difference I felt is that my performance in film is not completely in my hands whether it’s editing, director’s vision, etc, my final theatre performance is mostly under my control. Having said that the craft is finally called ‘Acting’ whether on stage or in front of the camera, I feel that there are differences but there are similarities too.”

 What made you sign Class of ’83? Did you like anything in particular when you first heard about it? 

“Mr. Abhimanyu Ray (casting director) was involved with the project when he says something I take it very seriously. He spoke to me very nicely just before the project started and he told me that something is coming up and I am fit for the character, it’s a cop so I should get into the look of the character, I had long curly hair so he asked me to cut my hair for the audition. He is one of the best casting directors that we have in the industry, when he says something I take it very seriously, he gave me my first few ads and I always love auditioning with him. When I got to know about my part in ‘Class of 83’, I saw that Inspector Vishnu Varde was a strong, aggressive and witty character. I loved the different scenes that we were auditioning for and it was very intriguing.”

Your first project as a film actor involves big names like Red Chillies Entertainment and Netflix. How is the experience of being introduced by one of the best in the industry? 

“This is what dreams are made of. Imagine a theatre actor who has been in the theatre industry for almost 8 years, played such different and vivid characters on stage, now is launched by Shahrukh Khan, and is one of the leads of a feature film produced by Red Chillies streaming on Netflix in 190 countries. I couldn’t have asked for a better start. My experience has been amazing and it’s ongoing, the love is going to keep coming as the film is on Netlflix and anyone can watch it anytime as per their convenience that’s the beauty of an OTT platform. There are still a lot of people who are watching it right now, even from the industry and calling me to congratulate me on my performance. It’s very humbling to receive so much love not only within the country but also across the borders.”

 The story is set in the ’80s and revolves around Mumbai Mafia, was there anything that was kept in mind specifically while shooting? 

“The story is a Cop-Drama and does not completely revolve around Mumbai Mafia as far as I think, it is about these 5 cadets who become their own personalities and become corrupt cops and their equation with each other, with the Dean and his equation with the system. The most important thing for me to keep in mind was that the script is my bible and I have to listen to Mr. Atul Sabharwal (director). He was very clear that I have to only stick to the script and the character that we had created. The director was present during the auditions, he was very certain about the character and had immense clarity. The character developed right from the audition stages and till the time we reached the shoot I knew exactly what my Director wanted from me. The prep provided to us by Red Chillies was our prep; we didn’t step out and do something on our own other than the fact that I was observing policemen on a daily basis, their body language, how they talk to each other, how they stand in front of seniors etc.”

 Any anecdote from shooting with Bobby Deol, or the film that is close to you? 

“Bobby Sir and I got into a competition of sorts, ‘Whose eye blinks while shooting a gun?’ He told me how he has learned from certain actors how to avoid blinking, I remember that after an action sequence we both ran towards the monitor and he wanted to check if I blinked my eyes. He was like, “Iski aankh blink hui ya nahi zoom karke check karo”. It was my first time that I was shooting a gun and even he was excited about that. Apart from this, he was really warm with all of us and I had some amazing conversations with him. 

 Tell us about your journey of transformation from being a theatre artist to a singer, voice-over artist to now as a film actor? What do you enjoy the most? 

“There is no transformation as such from being a theatre artist to a singer, a voice-over artist, or an actor. I will always be a theatre artist, singer and I will always do voice-overs. One transforms only when someone leaves one art form. I will always continue to do whatever I love to do. Since I was in class 4 I have had clarity when my teachers asked me, “What do you want to do in life? I said, “Mujhe Kishore Kumar ki tarah banna hai”. I want to be like him, not become him after all, I don’t believe in idolizing people in that manner because I think then you start imitating them. He was someone who could act, sing and dance and I wanted to do all of that, that is why I have done musicals and I was lucky to have gotten a chance to play some brilliant characters, sing and dance live on stage.”

He further added, “I enjoy that theatre gives you an immediate reaction and there’s less waiting over there for an actor, you get to a rehearsal and you rehearse, you are continuously working and you go do a show and then immediately you get your audience’s reaction. In films, it’s a bit different you have to be very patient, firstly to get the part you give your audition and you have to wait for the confirmation and then you go on the set there is a lot of waiting for the shot to be put up. Once the shoot is done you have to wait for the edit, finally the release, and then you will get the audience’s reaction. Even the wait has its own charm. On the other hand, I have been trained in singing when I was in school, after that – I got to train with some of the best people in the industry while I was doing musicals. I enjoy doing everything and I cannot pick one over the other.”

What are your upcoming projects? What has changed for you after the Class of ’83?

“I’m doing some theatre projects, ads, podcasts and voice-overs. The next film project would have to live up to my start; I have started with the Red Chillies and Netflix, such a meaty part, I am one of the leads in Class of ’83. My goal is to live up to what I have started with and not be in a hurry. It should justify my talent, it should also live up to my own standards that I set for myself. Hopefully, I’ll get to do many different and interesting characters. Maybe sing and dance too, if I can do it live on stage then why not on camera? I don’t know if things have changed, I haven’t changed, hopefully, the ‘struggler’ tag that actors get before they get their ‘big break’ will go away with this film, I really dislike that word, cause it’s permanently assigned to aspiring actors, I disagree with it. After the release I have been getting a lot of love from everyone through messages and calls not only from India but across borders, all over the world, in fact, some big names from the industry have been kind enough to call and congratulate. I have experienced this form of love in some way or the other during my musicals too, when I was performing ‘Gaston’ for Beauty and the Beast or ‘Genie’ in Aladdin, by god’s grace I have gotten a lot of love from the audiences for my performances on stage but with this film, the scale of my audience just got bigger.

If you still haven’t watched Class of ’83 starring, Hitesh Bhojraj, you can check it out on Netflix!

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