Tanuj Virwani is best known for his role as “Vayu” from the Emmy Nominated series Inside Edge. Starting off as an assistant director in 2013 to landing a lead role in a movie with Sunny Leone- Tanuj has built his achievements over hardships. Today, the star is spending his quarantine directing a film at home, entirely on his iPhone-10. Luckily, Storiyaan got a chance to have a chat with him about his work, artistry, and geekiness for action-figures. Read his interview to know more.
Questions and answers
Can you talk to us about the first time you realized that you wanted to act?
I always thought I would end up doing something related to films or something creative. But at that time in college, I was this fat kid with a bit of a stammer. I was an introvert with a hell lot of confidence issues. It never really occurred to me that I might be an actor. I thought I would be backstage, behind the camera or things like these. My mother was quite taken aback when I first mentioned to her that I wanted to act. Years later, when I look back, I understand that my love for acting just paved its way in my life.
We have heard that you love culinary art, and you have made sushi before? Is cooking one of your hobbies?
Yes, I have always loved cooking, but I cannot claim to have made the sushi since it is time-consuming and challenging to make. But I know the process of making it, and I can tell you how it is made as I have watched a lot of cookery videos. I do cook from time to time, enough to survive, and it’s very therapeutic, especially in this self-isolation period. I don’t follow any recipes because I think if you have a knack for cooking, you already know the basics. Luckily one of my friends has this organic farm kind of thing, so I often sneak to his farm to get my ingredients. It is a lot of fun!
Can you tell us, how are you spending your quarantine?
The 15th (March) was the last day when I had shot, and I haven’t left my house since then. This is something that I have not done my entire life. So the first few days were the hardest, where I was wondering all the time what I should do. It is like our life has come to a stop, and someone has pushed the pause button. After a few days, I realized this is going to take a while, so I made a proper schedule. I do a bit of research, meetings and work along with yoga and exercise. I have always loved playing cricket, so I play a lot of in-house cricket. I have one of my boys (staff member) who stays at my place. It is very important to practice a healthy lifestyle and meditate as a lot is going around in the world, and it’s a very uncertain time which can tend to take one’s mental health on a toll. Apart from that, I have been reading books, writing, watching shows, spending time with my family and my dogs. That’s all the things I do to keep myself busy.
Talking about your movies, one of your videos with Sunny Leone- One Night Stand had created quite a buzz. What is your take on the film?
I find the title of the movie a little misleading as it has Sunny Leone, and people thought that it is going to be just another raunchy film. A female directed the movie, and there wasn’t any male gazing happening on the set, so that was a good part. The film had a message in it. If a man cheats, it is not a big deal, but when a woman does the same thing, she is kind of objectified, which is not cool. That was the attempt, to pass on the message that whether you are a man or a woman, the rules should be the same. That was the reason I agreed to do the movie as it had a strong message. But if I were to do the same movie now, my performance would have been a lot different as I have become a little more subtle and mature and have grown as an actor.
We cannot move further without asking you about Inside Edge. It’s been a huge hit. Can you give us insights about how it was shooting for the same?
It was pretty amazing. Words are not enough to describe how being a part of it has changed my life. I have always loved two things in my life: one is acting, and the other happens to be cricket. With Inside Edge, I get to do both of these things, and I am very grateful for that. Season 2 did really well, and we have completed shooting for season 3 too.
In Season 2 of Inside Edge, your character Vayu turned out to be pretty gripping. How did you carry the responsibility of portraying Vayu in Season 2?
For me, it was a unique experience because when you do a movie, it is a very one-and-done thing, whereas it is not the same with the series. You have a small gap before the second or the third season. I have been getting a lot of positive criticism from my friends and audience, which has immensely helped me improve. I have known Vayu in the most profound sense now. I always try to follow my director as well as listen to my instinct while portraying a character.
Can you tell us about your experience of shooting for season 3 of Inside Edge?
It was thrilling as all of us were feeling every emotion of the character we played. To be honest, we weren’t actually shooting, we were playing cricket with season balls, and real players were present on the set with crickets boots and all of that. It was important for the cricket to look real and legit and we have tried our best to make it look like that in all of the seasons.
You transitioned very quickly from the big screen to the digital medium. What are the perks of working in the digital medium?
It was not a conscious effort actually to switch to the web. I was offered Inside Edge the day we had wrapped up shooting for One Night Stand. The timing was good, and Inside Edge opened a lot of avenues for me. Web series always have a lot of perks to offer, as I said. You have a lot of time to revisit your character, review, and add more layers to it when you play it in the next season. It is beautiful as it helps you grow as a person and better your art of acting.
The series Code with Jennifer Winget released this January. Can you tell us more about your projects in the pipeline?
The first season of Code M did well, so we are now coming up with the second season. I can’t tell when it is releasing as it is very uncertain considering the pandemic. I have got an exciting mix of projects that are in the pipeline for this year. An amazon series Kamatipura is coming soon where for the first time, I am playing an out and out villain on screen. Apart from that, I have got a cameo on this Netflix series with a fascinating concept called, Masaba, Masaba- which stars Masaba Gupta. Another well-mounted show that I am shooting for is Cartel, which has got a lot of people, and I am very excited. We are still in the middle of shooting for it.
What is the one element of acting according to you an actor should never miss out on?
For me, the key is to not get typecast in a role and do a lot of experimentation with your character because when you portray yourself in multiple genres, it keeps your audience hooked as they don’t get bored of seeing you.
We have heard that you are a huge geek when it comes to your collection of statues and action-figures of the hundreds of characters & superheroes- Stallone, Predator, Dinosaurs, etc. When did you develop the itch for all of it?
So I have been an avid collector of all these statues and figures, and it started since 2005. My collection has got a mixture of different movies, comics, series, characters, dinosaurs, predators, aliens, marvel, DC. It is something very personal to me, and I am very passionate about it as I am a child at heart. This has always given me a different kind of happiness, and a lot of people also have such habits of collecting stuff, which is in fact, a good thing.
How do you stand called and steady at your hard times? What is the secret that helps you keep moving?
So I work in a very unpredictable industry where the highs are very high, and the lows are extremely low. In my bad days, I try to speak to myself and people close to me. There is this one advice that my mother gave me, which has helped me a lot. She told me that you should never take the success to your head and your failures to your heart. When things go wrong, I try to keep myself calm because I know that it is just a phase in life, which has to pass. You always have a good side and a bad side, and it is always up to you which side you feed. We have to come to terms with accepting yourself and make peace with it. If there is something we get to learn is to trust the universe and everything that it has given you.
What inspires you, both: in your craft and life in general?
When I watch any extraordinary performance, be it a movie or any craft, I get inspired and motivated to do better in my life. So that is where lies my inspiration to inspire!