OTT platforms today are superstars of entertainment, touching previously uncharted territories. A big portion of their popularity can be credited to the fact that it has paved the way for many new faces who bring fresh perspectives. One shining star of the OTT world is Gulshan Devaiah. Even though Mr. Devaiah made his debut on the silver screen with Anurag Kashyap’s ‘The Girl In Yellow Boots,’ he is increasingly stealing the limelight in OTT shows. His latest projects Dahaad and Guns & Gulaab have showered him with accolades and for the right reasons. In this week’s SN Spotlight, we put the spotlight on the man of the hour. Presenting an interview that left us in splits both while recording and writing.
SN: Tell us about your Instagram bio
Gulshan: My Instagram bio came from my Twitter bio. I used to make clothes and I’d like to think I was very good at it so ‘the retired black belt in ladies tailoring’ part. A couple of years ago I dressed a certain way for an event. There’s this guy I know, Saurabh, who’s a graphic artist, he left a comment on the picture saying ‘Versova ka Versace.’ I live in Versova and it was a kind of flashy outfit that I was wearing so I kind of liked it and thought this is going to be my style now. I have adopted the name Versova ka Versace.
SN: Your style is commendable. Do you step out of your comfort zone while styling or is this your comfort?
Gulshan: I am quite comfortable. I think comfort is a state of mind. It can be different for different people. Some people are really comfortable wearing four-inch heels. They find a way to get comfortable, it could mean they just sit down all the time.
I like to wear my own clothes. I do work with stylists sometimes but mostly you see me wearing my own clothes that came from my wardrobe because that’s the point of fashion for me. Slowly, my sense of style is evolving. There are so many local brands now that make such cool stuff. I keep collecting the stuff that I really like and once I am done with it I pass it on to other people who can use these things.
SN: Your Instagram is full of colours and prints, we loved it! Tell us about your feed a little.
Gulshan: I don’t curate my feed at all because. We all go through a lot of emotions and I think my social media should be an extension of me. I don’t really look to monetise my feed. I use it to publicise my work and myself but it’s not really monetised. That’s why you’ll find all kinds of stuff on my feed.
SN: Hats are a constant accessory for most of your outfits. Tell us about your liking for them.
Gulshan: I think I am kind of into hats. I went through a phase when I would wear hats through all of my looks and then I just stopped and grew out of it. A few months back I was in London and I went to a hat shop and found some really cool hats and got back into this liking. It’s an expensive hobby though :/
SN: What do you think about GenZ fashion and are there any particular things you like from their fashion ensemble?
Gulshan: I am GenX. I’ve seen the 80s and 90s and their grunge looks and the rock n roll looks. In the 90s the relaxed-fit cargo pants were a thing and now these pants are a GenZ thing. The whole worn-out look has now become the vintage fashion and is desired. I have some Bob Marley T-shirts that I bought in 1994. If I sell them today, I can make some pretty big bucks and buy a motorbike. The fashion is relaxed, the music is like you’re hearing in the distance, and there’s this whole tripped-out feeling, the way people are right now and I am very curious to see where this will go.
SN: You were a theatre artist. How much did it help you to become an actor?
Gulshan: Theatre is my teacher. I never got the opportunity to go to drama or acting school, so I had to find ways to learn. I was pretty active on stage since I was a young kid in school but I seriously started focusing on the craft from the year 2000-2001 when I started doing theatre in Bangalore.
I started with some wonderful people who taught me a lot. They would teach me about the craft and gave me lots of books to read. Since there was a lack of education and training in acting, I used this opportunity to learn as much as possible. With the trial and error method, I kept things that worked for me and left other things out.
Theatre is a very important part of my life because it gave me the opportunity to learn acting and it created opportunities to perform and practise my craft. If theatre wasn’t there, I wouldn’t have had a sound understanding of the craft.
SN: How did the shift happen from fashion to cinema?
Gulshan: It had to happen. After working for 8 years I found some inspiration and courage to make it happen. Acting was something I really wanted to do since I was a young boy but I never gave it a shot.
In 2008 I moved to Mumbai from Bangalore and luckily for me things fell into place and I was able to pursue my childhood dream. I can’t believe it sometimes that I am a professional actor.
SN: In Guns N Gulaab you’ve portrayed the character of a villain. Who’s your favourite villain?
Gulshan: I don’t if I have a favourite. I have a lot of actors whom I really admire and whose performances I’ve really enjoyed. There’s Daniel Day Lewis who plays the character Plainview in ‘There will be Blood’ and there’s Javier Bardem’s performance as Anton Chigurh in ‘No Country for Old Men.’ that I really enjoyed. In fact, Anton was an early inspiration for me while creating Atmaram.
SN: Each character teaches you something, right? What did you learn from Chaar Cut Atmaram?
Gulshan: You have to keep using lubricating eye drops for your eyes because your eyes dry up wearing lenses and it gets very difficult to take the lenses off. It’s a valuable lesson. You thought it would be some philosophy but these are life lessons. One should be very practical in life.
SN: What next for you both off-screen and on-screen?
Gulshan: I have another interview so that’s off-screen. (laughing). On-screen, I just finished shooting for Ulajh which has a whole bunch of wonderful actors. I will soon start filming a family comedy-drama. Duranga season 2 will be released soon.
SN: We have seen you in various roles and all are different from each other. What are the roles you want to do in the future?
Gulshan: Thank you for noticing. I don’t have any preconceived ideas as to what kind of roles I’d like to do. I really enjoy acting, building characters, being creative and creating this illusion of being somebody else. I try to do different work but when you ask me what I want to do next, I honestly don’t know. There’s no wishlist of directors or stories or characters because I think this limits me. Then I am only thinking about these characters and not allowing pleasant surprises to happen to me.
SN: Does your social media influence your career in any manner?
Gulshan: Sure! A lot of people say such good things about me and sometimes some people do ‘gaali-galoch’ also which I think is fine. It keeps the balance. Sometimes they challenge my views, which I think is good. All the appreciation and criticism are right there for you to see. I think it is important for one to be as sincere and as honest as possible.
SN: Do you think actors are paying a lot of heed to social media?
Gulshan: Many actors have monetised their social media and it’s fine. I don’t want to monetise my social media and that’s me. When I was a kid I dreamed about being in films, I did not dream about being in ads and selling products. I know one can monetise it but it does not excite me. For other people who want to do it, it’s perfectly fair. Who am I to pass any judgement?
Gulshan Devaiah is truly an entertainer. Even during the interview his exceptional skills and ability could not be hidden behind the curtains. His artistic demeanour, his undeniable charm and his expressive face shone brighter than studio lights. His spontaneity and sportive nature can be seen during our fun ‘Behind the feed’ game where he gave some impeccable responses and narrated fun stories. Gulshan Devaiah gives us the main character feels and we are here for it.