Neeraj Pandey’s web show, The Freelancer, based on the book A Ticket To Syria, sees Avinash Kamath, an ex-cop turned mercenary, taking up the daunting task of rescuing Aliya, a newly married girl trapped in war-torn Syria against the backdrop of growing ISIS terrorism. Actor Navneet Malik, previously seen in Heropanti 2, plays the antagonist in the series. We speak with Navneet to learn more about his role and the show.
How was it playing a gruesome antagonist? How did you prepare for it?
Mohsin was a tough character, I must say. But as an actor, I am happy to play roles that would break boundaries. It was an emotional roller coaster. After I got the script, I started looking for references, but there were hardly any. So, I created Mohsin under the guidance of Neeraj Pandey and he asked me to keep it as real as possible. I am a model as well, but I needed to look like a character and had to gain around 9-10 kg.
How was working with Neeraj Pandey?
Neeraj has his genre and he is a master at it. He keeps everything real, and you can relate to the characters or situations. And throughout the shoot schedule, he was like a guiding star. You have a theatre background.
Do you use those learnings in front of the camera as well?
I have done theatre and acting workshops. But all said and done, once you reach the sets, it’s a completely different environment — the vibe, the energy, the technicalities. Each day is special; it adds to your learning process. In theatre, there are no retakes, so I learned how to face the camera, how to do retakes, and how scenes are shot individually and then clubbed together.
What are your survival strategies in the industry?
I am just trying to focus on my craft right now, and trying to create a positive environment around, not to fake it. Be unique and just focus on myself — that’s my motto.
The Virgin Tree starring Sanjay Dutt, Mouni Roy and others is yet to release. Apart from that, there are two more projects lined up.
The Freelancer is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar