It is afternoon time as I arrive for my interview with Upen Patel. Media personnel were jutting in and out of the conference room as Upen went through his routine. Some dozen of interviews later, I expected to find Upen a bit tired and may be tad disinterested. But that was not to be. Greeting me with a twinkle in his eyes, Upen looked fresh enough to start our interview but not before obliging a waiting photojournalist with some pictures. 10 seconds, 5 Gq style poses and Upen was good to go for our interview.
Ek Haseena Thi Ek Deewana Tha will see Upen in a role that he considers to be an extremely honest and sincere performance. ” I play someone who puts people before himself. He is protective about the people he loves. Sometimes this can go against him even though he means to do well. When you see this character, you will realise the graph of it is extremely interesting. From where he goes to being in love to sacrificing love to and accepting that it was never yours, he is someone who believes that if you love someone you just set them free and they will come back if they are meant to be yours. When you go with through that journey, you have a smile on your face and pain in your eyes. The movie is a romantic mystery and has my most honest performance. There is nothing fake about the tears or emotion I portray on screen. I lived with it for all the 50 days of our shoot.”
Upen who is teaming up with Suneel Darshan for the second time revealed that the association this time was no less joyous and a satisfying one.
“He is a calm personality,” said Upen and continued, “He has taught me a lot about cinema and not just as an actor. He is someone who believes that his values should reflects in his cinema. For him, his characters have to be good. They have to give hope to humanity. There is so much of stress in the outside world with peoople fighting and families fighting with each other. Darshan wants them to come and watch and believe in the power of love, believe in peace and in the goodness of things. Love is the most powerful emotion. You don’t mess with two things in a man’s life – his family and the woman he loves.”
For someone who has dabbled in different genres since his debut, Upen doesn’t perceive cinematic challenges as limited to only genres. It is a film’s script that excites and challenges him.
“More than genres, it is the writing that appeals to me. If it is written well, the character has a beautiful graph about it. I thought comedy would be hard but didn’t mind doing it because the writing was good. Whenever I sign a new movie, I get to learn a lot because they all have their hard and easy aspects but for me more than genre, it is beautiful stories that I want to be part of. When I see someone like an Aamir Khan doing a 3 Idiots and then a Dangal, his choice of films inspire me. Similarly an Irrfan Khan in Hindi Medium was amazing in terms of his choice of movie selection. I like such thought processes. Also as an actor, you always remain a student of cinema. The day you said yoi know it all, your downfall begins. So you have to keep learning continuously. I have also evolved as an actor from my first film learning and inculcating new things in my craft with every passing day. I am evolving as an actor. Life is the biggest lesson,” emphasised Upen.
It was a decade ago when Upen made a smashing debut with 36 China Town. His swagger in the hit number O O Aashiqui Main Teri made him quite a heartthrob among viewers immediately. While offers came in plenty post that, Upen was clear about doing movies with good stories which mattered and steering away from sex and bold content which is something that he has stuck on to even today. And he is open to working in different mediums provided it is work that excites him.
“I am open to good work whether it is in movies or online. I like to do stuff which has great production value. When you look at Netflix, their story telling and production value, it has an appeal. Right now whatever has come out in the Indian webseries space has too much of sex and swearing in it. That is not appealing to a lot of family audience. Just because you don’t have censor doesnt mean you make content loaded with sex. Great stories work everywhere.”
For someone who leads a glamorous albeit busy life onscreen, Upen is your normal guy off it. “I chill out like a normal person. I love to read, watch movies, play playstation and and sweating it out in the gym. I lead a very normal life. I am also obsessed with cinema. I love the process and try to understand it so as to learn. I watch all kinds of cinema. I like studying the character, the graph and the various emotions that play out throughout the film,” said Upen before signing off.