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#KetchupTalks: In Conversation with Vivek Madaan about Special Ops 1.5 and his journey so far

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Sakshi Sharma
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Vivek Madaan


Vivek Madaan works in both industries, OTT and TV, he opens up about Special Ops 1.5 and upcoming projects like Aranyak, and Runway 34 (Mayday).

Vivek Madaan is a well-known actor that you might've seen on TV and films and now on OTT platforms too. He's versatile, talented, and dedicated to his craft and is majorly known for his amazing performance in projects like Talaash, Kasganj, and a few others. He was a part of the recently released, Special OPS starring Kay Kay Menon on Dinsey+ Hotstar. He has also worked in the Netflix series, Aranyak starring Raveen Tandon which is scheduled to release on the platform on December 10, and he has also worked with Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgn, and Rakul Preet in Runway 34(Mayday). We got a chance to interact with Vivek and here's what he has to say!

Recently, we saw your work in Special Ops 1.5. How was your experience of working with a talented actor like Kay Kay Menon and associating with director Neeraj Pandey?

Talking about Neeraj Pandey, Vivek says, "I shall proudly wear it like a badge of honor for life, that after hundreds of men were rejected, the Universe finally blessed me through Neeraj Sir, approving me for the part of this suave and sophisticated antagonist, Sankalp Chaudhary! Neeraj Sir seems a little reserved in person, but when he is on set in the director’s mode, he's full-throttle ‘pedal to the metal’. He is with the DOP, the Steadicam operators, and in the action with you all the time with such laser-sharp focus. And mind you, NOTHING escapes this Hawkeye. He's fastidious, super meticulous, and very particular. I haven't ever seen such clinical precision and rapt concentration in the midst of such complex camera moves. So, all one has to do is just obey his instructions to the ‘T’ with implicit faith in the outcome. For the first time ever I never bothered with viewing the playback of takes. I had respectfully 'surrendered' to the vision of this brilliant man! For an 'outsider' to have come so far and so soon, he’s not even 50, is an accomplishment very few in the business can even speak of. And for that, you have to be blazingly talented at your craft. It was an absolute privilege to work on Special Ops 1.5 with Neeraj Sir at the helm."

Talking about Kay Kay Menon, Vivek says "KK Sahab is a man of few words and mild-mannered. He preserves all his bravura for the screen. To hold his ferociously intense gaze in the climatic face-off we have is not easy. Here is a man I have long admired in several electrifying performances over the years. Like Eklavya in the bushes, several aspirants like me have learned immensely by watching his consistently fantastic work. Had yearned to work with him and it finally happened ‘up, close and personal’ in Special Ops 1.5. It has been a dream come true."

Can you tell us a bit more about your upcoming projects, Aranyak and Runway 34(Mayday)?

Talking about Aranyak, Vivek says, "It's a key character. It's in stark contrast to what you may have seen of me in Special Ops 1.5. While Sankalp Choudhary was this international wheeler-dealer with panache, in Aranyak it’s a complete turnaround and a dipolar opposite end of the spectrum, where I'm playing a small town ordinary, unkempt hillbilly. A male chauvinist, who is resentful of his wife. Raveena is playing a well-respected cop and wears the pants in the house too. He is terribly disillusioned by the fact that becoming a police officer was a career path charted out for him by his father, played by Ashutosh Rana, but has not lived up to his father's expectations and lives a rather mundane existence. To see his wife in a position of authority and earning the respect of his father and the townsfolk further fuels his disdain towards her."

Talking about Runway 34 (Mayday), Vivek says, "For obvious reasons, I cannot talk about the plotline too much, but I can safely say that I play Ajay Sir’s bad-boy buddy in the movie, and who’s essentially responsible for triggering a chain of events that ‘causes’ the main drama in the movie."

How is it working with actors like Amitabh Bacchan, Raveena Tandon, and Ajay Devgn?

Talking about Amitabh Bachchan, Vivek says, "There are so many things to learn from this giant in the business. To see someone who still works with such professionalism, punctuality and dedication is a humbling experience."

Talking about Raveena Tandon, Vivek says, "Raveena’s humility and unassuming nature make her a joy to be around on the set. We had some really intense scenes together, but she is inherently charming and immediately puts you at ease. In spite of the rigors of the shooting conditions, we breezed through the tough shoot in the winters with strict COVID-19 protocols, all thanks to her affability and sheer professionalism."

Talking about Ajay Devgn, Vivek says, "Ajay Sir is like a big brother. He has the formidable presence of a drill sergeant in the barracks, but with a velvet glove. He works with absolute discipline and military precision as a director. He was multi-tasking as the leading man, producer, and director on this one and he makes it look so easy and very very cool."

If we asked you about your most memorable scene from any of your projects, which one will it be and why?

My climactic scene with Aamir Khan in Reema Kagti’s ‘Talaash’. I had the good fortune of playing DCP Manish Awasthi, a superior ranking officer to Aamir Khan’s character, Aamir Sir played a PI in the movie. It was my first ever scene with a megastar and I was unsure of what to expect. Albeit I am much younger than him, he had handpicked me to play his senior officer and he always rehearsed diligently, behaved appropriately as per his character and rank of the role, and not once as this industry heavyweight. That reflects upon how sincere he is in his approach towards his work and with objectivity and humility. He wears his stardom very lightly and he is genuinely a warm person and very down to earth.

Since you're working with an OTT platform and you have also worked in TV, what is it that each platform provides that the other doesn't?

Every medium has a different set of challenges. To put it simply, ads are 100 m sprint, movies, and OTT a marathon run and TV soaps are a decathlon race and actors are emotional athletes. Different kinds of preparation are required for different races. TV is the boot camp for testing your mettle as an actor. We shoot really long scenes & pages and pages of dialogues at a frenzied pace in organized chaos. It trains you to stretch your limits and if fortune favors you someday to land up in movies and OTT, you realize that you're so ready for the big game. It prepares you and toughens you up as an actor. After having endured the grind of television work, everything on films and OTT feels like a walk in the park. OTT and films are a director’s medium. You need to deliver the goods in a designed set of circumstances ‘moment to moment’ implementing upon the director’s vision. It’s your job as an actor to be adaptable to such changing environments.

Since we're almost at the end of the year, how has 2021 been for you?

I've been very very fortunate to have worked through the pandemic in ad films, doing voice-over work and then 2021-2022 is an exciting lineup of prestigious projects on OTT and features, both. 'Aranyak’ is releasing on Netflix shortly, ‘Breaking’ with Endemol Shine, Family Man duo Raj and DK’s next ‘Sunny’ for Amazon Prime. I am a part of Ajay Devgn’s Runway 34(Mayday) and also an upcoming spy thriller with Reliance Entertainment.

We're eagerly waiting to watch Vivek Madaan in Aranyak, Breaking, Sunny, and of course Runway 34 (Mayday)!

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