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Gulshan Devaiah: Shah Rukh Khan creates memories with people- Cinema express

Gulshan Devaiah: Shah Rukh Khan creates memories with people  

Gulshan Devaiah talks about being a troll on social media, his first meeting with SRK, and whether Guns & Gulaabs is getting a second season


Published: 13th September 2023

It has been the year of Gulshan Devaiah. The actor left a soft-imprint with his portrayal of Devilal, a conscientious cop, in the otherwise bleak world of Dahaad. Next was the goldenly goofy, Chaar-Cut Atmaram, the mysterious contract killer in Raj & DK’s crime comedy series Guns & Gulaabs. Squeezed in the middle was Devaiah’s only theatrical release this year, 8 A.M. Metro, in which he played a sensitive man coping with a tragedy. Devaiah is an actor who immortalises his characters (is Atmaram alive?) but off screen, amid his satirical takes, he is also known to speak his mind on social media. Going by the handle “SuperGullu” on X, Devaiah says that his online persona is an “extension of himself.” “I don’t want to monetise it,” he tells us.

We speak to the actor about what the industry taught him over the years, how he once got trolled by a Kangana Ranaut fan and if there is going to be a second season for Guns & Gulaabs.


Why “SuperGullu”?

It is my alter ego. I call myself that. But the name was actually given to me by a student when I used to teach fashion at a college in Bangalore. He was a student of graphic design and I used to help him out with projects and stuff. I don’t remember what, but I did something creative with a project and he called me “Super Gullu”. I was like ‘Ok, that is something interesting’. Then the name just stuck around in my head. Even my email id has Super Gullu in it (laughs).

Your profile description on X has a film dialogue…

Oh yes. It’s “Mera sense of humour bohot achcha hai. Aapko dheere dheere pata chal jayega (My sense of humour is very good. Slowly, slowly you will realise).” It’s Kangana (Ranaut’s) dialogue from Queen (2013). I guess I put it because I laugh at my own jokes, just how Kangana does in the film.

Do you like Kangana Ranaut as an actor?

Lately, I haven’t seen much. I guess the last film I saw of hers was Judgementall Hai Kya (2019). I loved her performance in Queen. She was also great in Tanu Weds Manu (2011). Her acting was both a good performance and also entertaining.

And off screen? You seem like a person who would disagree with her point of view

On social media, I only troll people I know. I have met Kangana a few times but I don’t know her that well. I guess disagreements can be there. I haven’t taken her name but I have disagreed with some things she has said in the past. I even got trolled for it. I remember when Thalaivi (2021) released I commented something about why she should be doing the Tamil dubbing for the film also. One of her fans wrote to me something like “your film’s collection can’t even match the parking collection of the theatre in which Kangana’s film releases.” I was floored by this comment (laughs). Matlab beizzati bhi kari toh itne style se (He put me down with such swag).

Does social media trolling affect you?

Sometimes it does get overbearing. Especially at the time of the (Covid-19) lockdown. People didn’t have much to do but to spew venom online. Social media wasn’t a conducive environment for discussion and debate and people were arguing only to put each other down. I mean it’s ok to have differing opinions. Even I want my notions to be challenged. How can anybody think that they know everything? There can always be a dignified way to oppose. But social media can be a vicious cycle. You say something and the other person opposes you and so on and so forth. I feel for some people online, there will be no existence if there is no opposition.

You recently disagreed with Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s viewpoint on depression being a rich man’s disease. When you argue with industry people online, do you feel awkward meeting them later in person? Do you think it hurts your chances of working with them?

I have remained civil while disagreeing with people. So, I don’t feel awkward as such. I don’t think I will be awkward in front of Nawaz bhai. If this topic comes up, I would be fine having a discussion with him. I don’t want to think too much about giving opinions online. What is living if I have to live in so much fear? If I keep thinking what people think, what will people think?

To me, you seem like an actor who does everything slowly and nicely. It’s almost Zen. Were you always like this or is it an acquired calm?

I remember as a child I was very restless. My father used to call me the “little worm” because I never sat in one place. I had a lot of energy. But once I came to Mumbai, I realised I needed some calm in my life or else I’ll get tired soon. I needed to preserve my energy to focus it in the right direction. Some people have the ideology of ‘I’ll rest after I am dead’, but for me thehraav (calm) is more important. Moreover, the film industry is very subjective. Just being good is not good enough. You have to be great. But more than that, you have to be smart if you have to leave a lasting impression on people.

Smart as in?

There are a lot of things. I’ll give you an example, there is nobody who has met Shah Rukh Khan and doesn’t have a story to tell of him. When Shah Rukh meets anyone, he creates a memory with them. Even I have such a memory. When I first met him, he was gracious enough to drive my car from the parking lot. Now I don’t know if it is some sort of strategy or his natural behaviour but that is something everybody should learn. I observe these qualities in people and try to imbibe them.

Let’s talk about Chaar-cut Atmaram, what did you think of the character when you were first presented with him?

I remember Raj (Nidimoru) had called me to read the script. I asked him if it was a villain-type character. He said yes. I told him, I was steering away from antagonist roles after Commando 3 (2019). I knew if I read the script, I wouldn’t be able to avoid doing the character. I still read it and as expected, I liked it. Then I called Raj and said, “it’s good but am I in season 2?” He said, "Yes, yes.”

So, there is a season 2 of Guns & Gulaabs...

No, no, I just asked Raj at the time about my character (laughs). I don’t know if there is a season 2 or not, Netflix and Raj & DK have to think about that.

I remember you once said that you hide behind your characters. Is it still true?

No. I am happy with who I am now, so I don’t need to hide. I remember during Shaitan (2011), I was comfortable with doing the performance and playing the character but not with doing promotions as Gulshan. But then I realised I needed to change. I thought, if I am not happy with Gulshan how will others be?

Are you comfortable with film promotions now?

Yes, very. It is a different kind of performance for me (laughs).

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