Mohit Marwah

Mohit Marwah, who makes his film debut with Fugly, has the pedigree. His uncle is Anil Kapoor and his cousins are Arjun and Sonam Kapoor. Mohit chats with Bollywood Hungama’s Subhash K Jha about the famous clan of the silver screen…

Was acting a given, considering the family you come from?

Not really. Having spent most of my childhood in Delhi, I was pretty much away from Mumbai’s film culture, except through Boney Maama and Anil Maama’s family. Only when I was in Grade 12 did I start looking at cinema as a career.

After completing this, I joined a film school in the US and then assisted a couple of directors. Now, here I am.

Did Boney and Anil help you get your first break?

Not at all. That’s not the way the family thinks. That’s not the way I wanted it. After I went to film school, I shifted to Mumbai and began auditioning like any newcomer for two years. That’s the only way to do it. I had a dream and I chased it.

But was it a very long process?

Yes. But the sense of satisfaction I felt when I finally got Fugly… It’s hard to describe the feeling of being self-made. I am lucky to come into the film industry at a time when new talent is being welcomed. So many new actors are coming in. I couldn’t have chosen better a time.

Why did you choose to be part of an ensemble cast for your debut?

All my favourite films recently have had an ensemble cast, be it 3 Idiots, Kai Po Che! or earlier, Dil Chahta Hai. When I auditioned I never thought about being a solo hero, to me, the character had to be interesting.

What was it like working with director Kabir Sadanand and the other newcomers in Fugly?

He did something very clever from the start. Kabir just left the four of us – Vijender, Alif, Kiara and me – together. For two weeks we did random stuff. That helped us to bond before we did workshops and then we left for our first schedule in Ladakh. All of us are bonded for life now.

What made your character interesting for you?

When I read the script, I felt it was going to be exciting. I wanted to play a character who goes on a journey, who grows during the course of the film.

The guy I play is not like me at all. He is an introvert. That’s how I used to be in school. I used be very shy.

How did you overcome your shyness?

I told myself that if I wanted to be an actor, I had to be outgoing. I chose to study cinema in New York because it helped me open up. I came back and acted in short films, one of them for Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions which Shakun Batra directed.

Were you on your own in New York?

For a year, I lived with two other students from India. During my second year, my cousin Rhea (Sonam’s sister) joined me. The two of us rented a flat. That was a fun phase. It was a home away from home.

Of your cousins, who are you closest to?

We’re all very close. We’ve been hanging out together since we were children. My mother would visit her brothers (Boney, Anil and Sanjay Kapoor) in Mumbai twice or three times a year. So I’d visit my cousins frequently. We grew up as one close family.

When I shifted to Mumbai to pursue my film career, I had a choice of homes to stay in. So I actually rationed my time with each family.

Now I am on my own in Mumbai, slogging it out like any newcomer. But all of us stay within a radius of 1km in Juhu. We’re always at one another’s place.

So you could choose to lead a pampered life?

I feel it’s better to face the hardships in the beginning. It is important for me to undertake that journey of my career on my own.

But let me tell you, my struggle became far easier because I have so much family around.

Do you look up to your uncle Anil as an actor?

Without a doubt. I’ve seen how much of himself he puts in every role. His passion is unmatched. From the time I was a kid, I knew what we saw was not just acting.

There is a lot of hard work involved. He’s punctual, hard-working and fully focused. I believe I’ve inherited his passionate energy.

Do you see yourself competing with Anil’s son Harshvardhan when he makes his debut next year?

Not at all. All of us, Sonam, Arjun, Harshvardhan and I have distinct personalities. The roles Arjun is doing right now can’t be done by anyone else. In any case, I’m closer to Arjun’s age than Harshvardhan’s. But I’m so happy there are so many of us. –