It is not often that a bonafide star is talented, experimentative, and also very level-headed at the same time. Amey Wagh, who became a household name as Kaivalya Karkhanis from Zee Marathi’s Dil Dosti Duniyadari, is one such celebrity.
Breaking new ground with his popular web series Casting Couch with Amey and Nipun which has now entered its second season, Amey is constantly exploring new genres and platforms, all the while keeping his joie de vivre intact.
In conversation with this wonderful actor:
You gained prominence as an actor with the prestigious Purushottam Karandak. What prompted you to pursue acting?
Honestly, I always thought I was bad at everything else, except acting. I don’t think of myself as a great actor, but acting seemed manageable, at the very least. As a schoolkid, I wanted to be an actor, and a software engineer. As I grew up, my goal shifted to becoming an actor and an MBA. Eventually I felt that an actor was all I could be, and here I am.
Growing up in Pune, I used to act in many children’s plays. I began enjoying the entire process- playing various characters, performing onstage, facing the camera - and as it often happens in these cases, I got hooked. And there has been no looking back since!
I participated in the Purushottam Karandak during college. We entered with a one-act play called ‘Cycle’, which was directed by Nipun (Dharmadhikari). All I had won till then were consolation prizes, and this play fetched Best Actor, Best Director and Best Play! That, I could say, really brought us into the limelight.
Tell us something about your family. Do you come from a family of artistes?
I don’t come from a family with a background in the performing arts. A relative suggested me to take up acting, and consequently my parents enrolled me into an acting workshop.
My mother is an arts enthusiast. She comes from a small town, Akkalkot, where opportunities were severely limited when she wanted to pursue a career. So she and my father ensured that I got all the support I needed to fulfil my ambition in this field. They still attend my plays and shoots and support me actively.
So they also watch you flirting with celebrities on YouTube?
Yes that too, and they like it!
You work across platforms - theatre, cinema, television and now YouTube. Where do you enjoy working the most? What are the different challenges?
My first love is theatre. That is one medium where the actor is very much in control. While I haven’t really dabbled in spiritual exercises, I believe what an actor experiences on stage must approach spirituality.
Amey in character for 'Dalan'. facebook
The reach of television as a medium is tremendous in our country. Casting Couch is so popular partly because people knew me from my TV show, Dil Dosti Duniyadari. It has definitely helped me reach out to people.
Cinema has a charm of its own. I find the entire creative process, the investment of people involved, the anticipation right upto the release, very exciting.
I believe that an actor must always try to work outside his comfort zone. Unless you push your boundaries, there is no growth.
This is heartening to hear, because not many actors operate that way…
My background in experimental theatre has imbibed in me this need to constantly rediscover myself. This is why I have also been doing English plays. After my character from the TV show became popular, I thought this was the right time to venture into something fresh, and so the web series happened.
One actor in Marathi you’d love to work with?
I would love to work with Sai Tamhankar. She has a fearless approach towards her work and her choice of roles. I am really fascinated with her performances.
You have been a part of many daring, experimental plays (Geli 21 Varsh, Dalan, Amar Photo Studio). What do you look for while taking up a part?
I work in plays by my friends from Natak Company. The English plays that I am doing now are by my friend Akarsh Khurana. I take up whatever plays he offers me.
A moment from 'Geli 21 Varsh'. solot
I don’t bother about the length or nature of my character. I’m driven purely by the desire to work with my friends because you seldom get to work with like-minded individuals and that’s a chance I do not miss. It is just an emotional decision.
Your thoughts on remaking legendary plays like Katyar Kalajat Ghusli and Natasamrat into films?
Plays, too, are literature, and adaptations like these take classics to the masses. So I think filmmakers taking up classic plays helps popularise the ideas of the playwrights, and it is a welcome trend.
On the subject of theatre, older generations complain that youngsters don’t frequent plays enough. What do you have to say about it?
I think this argument is a very boring one! I don’t believe that the younger generation doesn’t enjoy theatre. It is actually the youngsters who are instrumental in making a film or a play a hit, because they act as multipliers. If you like a play, you return for a repeat watch with more friends of yours.
However, filmmakers and theatre groups should also make conscious efforts to consistently deliver fresh content to this demographic. For instance, we started a Passport Photo Challenge on social media to promote our play Amar Photo Studio, and that garnered great response. 80% of the audience attending our play are youngsters.
Younger audiences also lapped up Dil Dosti Duniyadari for its fresh content. Any interesting anecdotes from the sets?
Every day on the shoot of Dil Dosti... was fun. We used to shoot for long hours everyday which would be exhausting sometimes. Once we had been shooting for 24 hours at a stretch. A close shot of one of the actors was being taken, but the sound engineer had to cut the shot because everybody else had fallen asleep, and the sound of all of us snoring loudly also got recorded! That is one incident I’ll never forget.
Something we all want to know… should fans give up all hopes of a second season?
I really cannot comment on that. But yes, fans have waited long, and there is no harm in waiting a little more, is there? Besides, surprises, whenever you get them, are always great!
Casting Couch has become a phenomenon in the Marathi entertainment sphere. How is the dynamic between you, Nipun (Dharmadhikari) and Sarang (Sathaye) on the sets?
We are practically chilling. We have been friends for so long that we know each other very well, and it’s a positive riot on the sets. I and Nipun aren’t as jobless as we claim to be on the show, but that adds to the humour, along with jokes on each other’s appearances, jokes on seniors, and that is the USP of the show.
The best part about it is that we can laugh at ourselves. Even when the shot is done, we are still in splits. Our guests too are extremely sporting. It takes a lot of courage to step up willingly for a roast.
The second season of CCWAN premiered with Anurag Kashyap as the guest.
How does making a web series differ from other media?
It is great that web series have become a platform for many aspiring entertainers. But not every web series works, because tremendous effort goes into production as well as its promotion. We have put in a lot of hard work for Casting Couch, especially Sarang and Paula (McGlynn), and it has paid off.
There is this running joke on the show that “it’s all casual”, but I often say that Casting Couch is a seriously made comedy show.
But yes, the camaraderie we share definitely makes it easier and stress-free.
How did the partnership with Nipun and Sarang come about?
Nipun and I are friends since Class 11th. Back then, we acted in a play which was directed by Sarang who was our senior in college.
We used to have this thing in college where we would give ratings to pretty girls in our group of friends based on how much they favoured us - brought us sweets, behaved with us nicely - all in the spirit of harmless flirting, of course. Sarang claims that that item of ours is what inspired him to create Casting Couch. Now that was over ten years ago, but Sarang says we’re still the same!
How has been your experience anchoring 2 MAD?
I like anchoring, talking to people and connecting with them comes naturally to me. It is, again, an exercise in getting out of my comfort zone and trying something new.
The show also lets me bring out all my ‘mad’ness. Getting paid to display your madness and wearing cool clothes the channel provides isn’t something I’ll let go anytime soon!
You will be a part of yet another first in Marathi with Faster Fene. What has been your approach to playing a beloved Marathi detective?
I would love to talk about Faster Fene but I have been told not to. The shooting is still underway, so I’m not supposed to reveal much. What I can tell you is that my recently obvious weight loss has been in preparation for this role. I have lost around 10 kg for my role in Faster Fene, something I have achieved through a strict diet and exercise routine.
We’re happy with the buzz it has generated even before its release. It is a first in Marathi, genre- and content-wise, so it is exciting!
Which other projects are you currently working on?
I’m part of a film called Muramba which will also release in 2017. I’m not even allowed to reveal who I am working with in the film, because the promotional campaign is designed around that very suspense. All I can say is that it is a romantic film, but it has more substance than your usual mushy love stories. I have donned a very different look for Muramba, not for the sake of it, but because it is a character point.
You said you would like to work with Sai Tamhankar. Are you working with her for Muramba?
I really don’t know anything! (laughs) You’ll have to keep the detective in you alive to find that out.
Title image: facebook