Vicky Kaushal talks about playing Udham Singh, and why New York and Varanasi are his favourite cities
Now that borders are gradually opening up, we chat with the Bollywood actor about where work has taken him and why he loves travelling
A cursory look at Vicky Kaushal’s Instagram page gives one an idea of the actor’s eclectic travel expeditions. Like his range of roles (which can’t be categorised under one genre), Vicky’s travel experiences are diverse. Whether for film shoots, advertising campaigns or personal trips, the actor has travelled from India to countries such as Russia, Serbia, America, Germany, Ireland, the UK and UAE. Within India too, the artiste has starred in movies shot in cities such as Amritsar and Varanasi. All of this has made Vicky the perfect poster boy for travel campaigns. Last year, just before the first lockdown, the actor was signed on by Hilton for one of their campaigns which was shot in Bengaluru. Now that borders are gradually opening up, we chat with the actor about where work has taken him and why he loves travelling.
Man on the move
His recent release, Sardar Udham, is a film that not only explores Indian freedom fighter, Udham Singh, as a revolutionary, but it also looks at his journey as a traveller from pre-independent India to the UK and other countries. Shoojit Sircar, the director of the movie, says, “In today’s time we talk of globetrotters, but in that era, Udham Singh travelled across the world and was a globetrotter in the truest sense.” Thanks to this movie, Vicky travelled to different parts of the world in 2019 before the pandemic, and it was then that he discovered something new about himself. “I have fallen in love with travelling. I wasn’t much of a traveller earlier, but because of my work I travel so much that I have started enjoying it,” says the actor.
Vicky’s on-screen evolution from the young Udham to a mature revolutionary has received immense praise. “I saw my character, Udham Singh, as a pure soul. Anyone would have been deeply impacted by the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, but Udham was so pure that he kept the pain and angst of the tragedy in his heart for 21 years. Yet, he wasn’t a person who was filled with hatred, he was clear about who he resented. He despised the Britishers who represented the idea of colonialism and imperialism. He believed no human being should go through such a tragedy, and he wanted a global platform to show the world what was happening in India,” explains Vicky who shot for the movie not only in India but also in countries like Ireland, Germany and the UK.
His earlier films too have given Vicky the opportunity to explore some of the most vibrant cities of the world. The actor says this has helped him grow as a performer and also as an individual. “I feel it’s important to travel. It helps you evolve as a human being. You meet new people, learn new languages, explore new cultures, new places and experience new temperatures. I have shot at places where the temperature was -10 degrees and at places where it was 30 degrees. A few people are born wanderers but my love for travelling developed while shooting for films,” explains the actor.
The other unforgettable experience, Vicky shares, was when he shot for Sanju. It was the first time that he travelled to New York. “New York one of my favourite destinations. I just fell in love with it. I am from Mumbai, a city that never sleeps and which is always alive, and New York is similar. I also got to meet many of my friends from college who are now working there,” he recollects.
Though born and raised in Mumbai, Vicky spent most of his summers in Punjab where his family is from. Hence, when shooting for Manmarziyaan in Amritsar, it was a homecoming of sorts for the actor. When they weren’t shooting, he explored the city through food. “Kesar Da Dhaba is my favourite place. I even visited the kitchen and saw how the team works nonstop. Bon’s Adda, right next to the airport, is amazing for waffles,” he enthuses. While he has travelled to exotic destinations, and has explored new cultures and met people from different backgrounds, Vicky says one city that he loves to revisit is Varanasi. The actor had shot in this holy city for his debut movie Masaan. “Two places I feel a connection within India are Punjab and Varanasi. I love Varanasi. That place has so much history. The spirituality, the food, the people and their warmth are few things that keep pulling me back to that city,” offers the actor. Though he may be a globetrotter, he says that he would love to spend more time with his family. “My idea of an ideal holiday is to be with my family,” he concludes.
Sardar Udham is streaming on Amazon Prime Video
All set to fly!
What essentials do you pack in your handbag?
My phone charger, my speaker and headphones. I love watching movies, so my iPad is always with me.
What is your ideal airport look?
After you are snapped at the airport, you still have to travel, right (laughs). So I usually choose either joggers or ripped denims. Ripped denims are the most dependable for me. I also love wearing cargos because then I can put my headphones, passport, wallet and phone in one pocket each, especially because these things need to be handy. I also keep a pullover because it tends to get cold in airport lounges and in flights.
What would you wear to a beach, for a city tour and for a night out?
For the beach, I will opt for trunks so that I am free to get into the water. For a tour of the city, it depends on the weather. I love to walk a lot, so I will probably wear linen trousers, a loose white cotton shirt and slip-ons. For a night out, I will choose something in black like a knitted full-sleeve t-shirt that fits well, and a leather jacket, with denim trousers and boots.
Which destination is on your bucket list?
I am waiting to go to Bhutan. I have read so much about it, about its greenery and tranquility. I really want to experience that.
What draws you to a place?
The location. For example Bhutan’s greenery. Then the cuisine, culture, history and its people. But most importantly, the pictures that I see on the Internet help me decide.
What do you look for when you choose a hotel to stay?
Their credibility and people’s reviews. And since I am a fitness enthusiast, I prefer hotels with a gym.