Upen Patel: I am choosy as I have certain responsibilities as an actor!
Upen Patel has been in this industry for over a decade. He began his career with modeling, switched to films (36 CHINATOWN, ONE TWO THREE, NAMASTEY LONDON and others) and later he was seen in television shows like BIGG BOSS and more. But for quite some time Upen was missing from the big screen. After a long hiatus he was seen in Suneel Darshan’s EK HASEENA THI EK DEEWANA THA recently.
Despite having a different diction, he has managed to get his footing in Bollywood. Upen has always been choosy about his choice of films and believes that it’s his responsibility to work in films that audience can connect. Not coming from a filmy background, he knows his struggle and appreciated it well.
In conversation with Upen as he speaks about his10 years of journey in Bollywood and what sets him apart from others and more.
Excerpts from the interview:
Your role in EK HASEENA THI EK DEEWANA THA fetched you positive response. What you have to say about it?
I'm really overwhelmed with the critical appreciation I've received and very grateful. My hard work, honesty and my performance has paid off. As an actor you always hope people can relate to your work and feel what u emote so the reactions and acceptance from the critics is a great feeling.
You have completed a decade how do you see your journey in Bollywood? And now with your latest release do you feel you are getting your due in the industry?
I'm very lucky being an outsider and having worked with some of the biggest names in the industry. I know my journey is slow but steady, but that's by choice. I want to do films that showcase my abilities and I feel I'm starting to receive my dues especially last year with Shanker's south film I, where I was also nominated for my performance and now with EK HASEENA THI EK DEEWANA THA the critics have appreciated my acting but I know there is much more to me and I hope more filmmakers step forward and believe in me.
Why have you been choosy about your projects?
I have been choosy because as actor you have certain responsibilities for the audience and of course myself as an artist. It's important to be part of cinema that reaches the audience and allows you to connect with them and have faith in you and your choices.
What kind of roles you are looking forward to do?
Honestly, I love acting. It's my passion so I want to be part of cinema that people enjoy and remember and which allows me to perform. I'm open to all genres of roles.
'Nepotism is prevalent'
Do you feel that films have the potential to bring in social change?
Of course they do. Cinema is a great medium to bring awareness to meaningful social subjects and educate people on the changing society.
How important is to have a Godfather in the industry?
No idea. I'm here standing on my own two feet trying to create my path and with the blessings of the audience I'm finding my way.
Do you think Nepotism is prevalent in Bollywood?
I think it's prevalent in all industries. I have a friend whose dad is a top lawyer and today he is also a top lawyer working in the family business which his farther created 30 years back with access to huge cases due to his father's reputation. So it exists, everywhere.
How much looks matter for a good role?
I think looks are not as important any more as content is king but this is a visual medium so you need to become the character. Not all roles need six packs.
Where other actors do PR of themselves, we don’t see you doing much publicity?
I don't know what others do or how they handle their careers but I don't even have a manager and believe me my work will talk and skill sets will be displayed on screen and today I'm reaping the benefits of my last performance.
Five qualities that make you have an edge over others?
I only have one. They can be more talented, better looking, better dancers but they can't work for me. I won't stop till I drop.
The best part about being in this profession?
Cinema makes you immortal. Even when I'm gone, cinema will keep me alive. That thought makes me smile.
One film which inspired you to become an actor?
No film, just luck by chance. I was a top model who got an opportunity and found his calling.
'With sacrifice comes opportunity'
Your dream role?
I am still searching for it.
According to you what is more important in a film - its director, script or the actor?
Script is the foundation but to make a great film you need a combination of all.
One thing that you would like to imbibe from each of the three Khans.
Aamir Khan’s story selection skills, Shah Rukh Khan’s diction and Salman Khan’s persona.
One Khan with whom you would like to swap your life?
None. I love my life and my mother who has gifted me this life. I only want to be her son and no one else's.
If not an actor then what you would have been?
I would be a wannabe actor (laughs)
One thing that you will refrain from doing onscreen?
Nothing. I'm a surrender to the script and my director.
How much comfortable you are doing bold scenes and lip-locks on screen?
I'm fine with it as long as it takes the movie forward.
What is that one thing you would never give-up for your profession and vice versa?
I've given up a lot to be in this profession. I left my family to come live in Mumbai, left my friends. With sacrifice comes opportunity. I embrace it.
Tell us about your struggle to become an actor?
I think as an actor it's important to struggle. I struggle now finding the right scripts or the right people to believe in me. The day I stop struggling that's that day I stop working. It's the process I live for.
With more number of women centric films being made now-a-days do you think it’s leaving a less scope for the male actors to be in the focus?
Not at all. Cinema is about story telling not gender oriented. There is scope for all in cinema.
From the current lot which actor inspires you the most?
No one inspires me but work inspires me. Me doing a honest job inspires me. Me growing as an actor inspires.