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Exclusive! Tanuj Virwani: My mother told me that things will not be served to me on a platter – Times of India

Rati Agnihotri’s son Tanuj Virwani had never aspired to be an actor. But having grown up with a Bollywood superstar for a mother, he ended up following in her footsteps. In an exclusive interview with ETimes, the actor opens up about how his mother reacted when he told her he wanted to face the camera and how her advice still comes in handy. Excerpts:

How have you been dealing with the pandemic so far?
I think the pandemic had certain phases–at first it felt like a break from work, then there was denial and lastly, we have come to acceptance and are now working towards getting out of it. My mother has been in Europe for work, so I have not seen her in the past 11 months. It has been pretty crazy but by the grace of God, no one I know has been affected. I have used the timeout to review and reconsider what I was doing and pondered about what kind of roles should I be taking up.

You debuted with ‘Luv U Soniyo’. How was your experience being in front of the camera for the first time?
Actually, ‘Luv U Soniyo’ was not supposed to be my first film. My debut film was actually going to be ‘Purani Jeans’ but some things didn’t work out. Meanwhile, Joe Rajan got in touch with me through Madhur Bhandarkar. The experience of facing the camera for your first film is unparalleled and so special! No matter how much you prepare in advance, you are never be really ready for that moment. It is unprecedented. Even today, whenever I am in front of the camera, I feel really grateful because this is something that I really love doing. I just hope I continue to get opportunities to keep doing that.

Were you always a movie buff?
Absolutely! I loved watching movies. I never thought I would become an actor though (smiles). I know it is a cliché but many people assumed that I would want to be one just because my mom is an actress. I always thought I would do something behind the camera because I didn’t feel I had what it takes to be a mainstream actor. Life is unpredictable; you never know which door opens, how, when, and why. You just have to figure it out one day at a time.

How was it growing up with a superstar mother?
I was away from it for most part of my life because my mother had quit acting once she got married. I never attended parties and we didn’t have people from the film fraternity visiting us. I was basically kept away from that life and had a normal, middle-class upbringing. Later, in 2001, my mother made a comeback into films with ‘Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi’. That is when I started getting exposed to that life. I always knew she was an actor but during those times, we did not have social media, so, it was not as overwhelming as it is now. However, whenever we travelled abroad, she used to get recognised. People would throng around her, addressing her as ‘Sapna’. It was only later that I found out it was her character name in ‘Ek Duuje Ke Liye’.

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How did she react when you told her you wanted to be an actor?
She was quite surprised and taken aback because I had always a under-confident. To be an actor you needed to be out there, so she thought I was not cut out to be one. She asked me if I was serious about it or was it just a whim. She sat me down and told me there was a lot of hard work and struggles involved and that it was not going to be a cakewalk. I remember her telling me that just because I was her son, things will not be served to me on a platter. Her words ring true every time. I remind myself every day that I have to be consistent and confident. ‘Inside Edge’ put me under the spotlight but it was not like I was not working before that. But now that things have worked in my favour, I have to keep working in that direction. I need to keep my focus.

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