The massive success of television shows in recent years has resulted in small screen stars matching cinematic idols in popularity.
In fact, many TV actors have received so much attention that they have successfully made the transition to the big screen. One of the most recent to make the cinematic leap to Bollywood has been Gurmeet Choudhary.
The talented actor and reality TV star made his Hindi film debut earlier this year with supernatural drama Khamo-shiyan and is now looking forward to even bigger projects. With a chiselled physique, brooding good looks and a dedicated fan base, few would bet against him making it.
Eastern Eye caught up with Gurmeet to talk about his journey as an actor, future hopes and more. Friendly and engaging, he also took the time to answer some searching fan questions.
How do you look back on your journey as an actor?
It has been superb. I first played Lord Ram on television and a lot of people thought I would typecast myself after doing mythology, but I was lucky. I did Geet Hui Sabse Parayi, which was a totally different character. After that my journey has continued to be diverse, doing Punar Vivah along with big reality TV shows like Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, Nach Baliye and Khatron Ke Khiladi. So my career so far has been exciting.
You must be pleased that Geet Hui Sabse Parayi is as popular as ever?
I’m happy that it still remains popular and even on Twitter a lot of my fans still tweet about it and talk about my character Maan Singh Khurana. I was so very lucky doing that character and worked hard on it – on my looks, my body, the performance, character and everything. I really enjoyed it and was lucky enough to perform it.
Why did you decide to switch from TV to cinema?
From childhood I always had the aspiration to work in Bollywood. I don’t have any film background – my dad was in the army. Luckily I met Yash Chopra and he told me, ‘if you want to become a big star, then why don’t you start doing television first?’ He said, ‘if you are talented and work hard on TV, a producer will call you for a movie.’
Exactly what Yashjee told me happen. I worked so hard on television and gave 500 per cent on every single scene. I also worked really hard on the reality shows I did. Luckily Mukesh (Bhatt) jee’s wife used to watch Geet and would tell him about me. She told him, ‘okay you have to take this boy who is talented.’ So I got a role in his movie.
Is the plan to stay with movies or will you also do television?
Right now I can’t do any television because of film commitments, but for my fans, I will do award shows so they can see me. When I signed with Vishesh films, I told Bhatt saab I would not do any daily soaps or TV, but for my fans, I want to do awards shows so they can see me regularly; like performing to film songs. He agreed, so I am doing these appearances on TV for only my fans. But if I get a really good script, then I would do television again.
Are you allowed to talk about any of your forthcoming films?
I’m doing a really interesting movie but it is too early to say anything about it right now. In the coming weeks we will announce it with a bang.
What kind of roles do you want to play in the future?
I’m not choosy, Asjad. My image on TV was more of a romantic hero. Everybody knows that I love action. So if I get a good action movie I would like to do that. Of course I would also love to do good romantic movies as well.
Talking of romantic movies, which of the current leading ladies would you love to romance on-screen?
It’s too early to say anything, but everybody knows I love Deepika Padukone and Rani Mukerji. Definitely I would like to work with them.
What is the secret of delivering a good performance?
When I used to take acting classes, everybody used to say that if you want to become a good actor, you have to be a good person. For me that’s the key. Actors should be like a team and you should be able to mould themselves in any way. I just give my 500 per cent in any character. That’s it.
I have some questions from fans. What were you like as a kid?
I was very naughty. (Laughs) Lots of people used to complain about me. My parents told me I used to do all sorts of naughty things.
What is the biggest lesson you learnt from your parents?
To work hard and remain down to earth.
How much do your fans mean to you?
Fans are like my extended family. I love them so much. It is only because of them that I am here. Whenever I’m doing something very difficult, I just think I’m performing for the fans and I work that little bit harder. I just give my best in everything, only for them. I love my fans.
What are your biggest passions away from work?
(Laughs) My wife says I don’t want to stay at home because when I am not shooting, I am working hard on other things like kickboxing, gymnastics, training and horse riding. I make sure that when I am free, I learn something new.
You say you want to learn new things, so what do you want to try next?
I have still got so much to learn. I’m learning gymnastics, but I want to become better. I want to learn how to do new stunts and want to get better at kickboxing, which is my favourite martial art.
Would you ever do a Punjabi film?
Lots of people think that I am Punjabi – actually, I am from Patna. But I would definitely like to work in a Punjabi film. My name is Gurmeet, I love Punjabi songs and Punjabi food, so I am like 80 per cent Punjabi.
What is the best and worst thing about Gurmeet Choudhary?
The best thing is I work hard and am really dedicated. The worst thing is I work so hard that lots of people, especially those near to me, think I don’t have time for them.
Tell us something that not many people know about you, like are you a good cook?
(Laughs) I don’t cook at all. I can’t even boil water. I’m really bad at it, I can’t make anything. But one secret I would say is whenever I feel low or disappointed, I read a lot of philosophical books. I’m heavily into philosophy to motivate myself.
You are a good dancer, but which dance style is your favourite?
I really like hip-hop and break-dancing.
What has been your most memorable encounter with a fan?
It’s very difficult to choose because the fans are so wonderful and have given me so many great moments. Lots of fans do crazy things you know, but I really respect them and they do so much for me.
One instance that comes to mind is when an 80-year-old lady gifted me her home with everything in it. I had to get a lawyer to get everything returned. I had to say to her, ‘maata-jee, just give me your blessings, I don’t want anything else.’
I believe if I have gotten ahead and done anything, it’s because of the blessings of fans. They have kept me in their prayers every step of the way and pushed me forward in my life and career. I’m very lucky to have their blessings.
How do you feel about being voted so highly every year in Eastern Eye’s 50 Sexiest Asian Men list?
I feel so happy. Whenever there is a countdown like this, all the different fans clubs come together and become like one big unit, which I think is amazing. I can’t even believe that they do so much for me. It’s all thanks to them if I get placed highly. I’m really thankful to all of them.
Looking ahead, have you made a master plan?
Whatever I do, it’s properly planned. When I thought I might become a Bollywood star, it was planned. I knew that after five years on TV, I could do that because it’s so big. So I planned it and everything in my life. I don’t do things spontaneously. What I am doing tomorrow I will plan the night before.
Finally, would you like to give us a message for your fans?
Whatever I am today, it’s because of the fans and their blessings. I will carry on working hard and entertaining you all. I will continue to try and do something new for you. Please carry on supporting me and I will carry on loving you. Like I said, you are not my fans, you are all my extended family.