Here's one actor who is not just ever-enthusiastic to take up myriad roles, but also get into the skin of his character.
Yash Tonk. We have seen him in three different roles in Kaahin Kissii Roz (KKR) on Star Plus, and still are not tired of him. Presently, he plays the rich, sophisticated, business tycoon Kunal Sikand in the serial; earlier we have seen him as the rustic, uneducated Haryanvi Kuljeet and the deadly henchman Shaan in the same serial.
In his first Bollywood flick Ishq Vishk, Tonk plays a rich and spoilt skirt-chaser. To Tonk's credit is the fact that he essays each one of these roles with remarkable ease and perfection.
Curious to unravel the real person behind this combo of looks and talents, Vickey Lalwani meets up with Yash Tonk at the Sankraman Studios during a KKR shooting.
The meeting turns out to be intriguing and pleasantly honest - with Tonk even offering an insight into the origins of his rather unusual surname."I hail from this village called Tonk in Haryana. That explains Kuljeet's perfect accent in KKR," he explains. Excerpts from the interview:
How did you get into television?
I am here not by default. Rewind. Born in Haryana, I finished my schooling there. For college, I was in Delhi. I did a few fashion shows at college. Some coordinators picked me up from there and gave me a chance to participate in shows at a professional level. I developed a strong urge to get into serious modelling. My parents encouraged me for it too.
Then, I came to Mumbai. I got a few modelling assignments; did a bit of theatre. I was going along all right, but nothing special had happened. Then, came my real break - the music video Jai Jai Shiv Shankar with Maria Goretti. Within a short time, I had bagged my first TV serial - Just Mohabbat.
Thereafter, life started smiling?
...Rather, I started smiling (laughs). I started getting top commercials like Vadilal, Coke, Clinic All Clear, Close Up...
How important has KKR been for your career?
Tremendously. Today, I am respected, recognised and even idolised, all thanks to KKR. It has been very exciting to play Kunal, Kuljeet and Shaan - all in one serial. All the characters have been noticed and appreciated by the audiences. I can gauge this when I walk down any road.
"Today, I am respected, recognised and idolised, only because of 'Kaahin Kissi Roz'"
Tonk (third from left) in a still from 'Kucch To Hai...'
Has KKR's roles helped you polish your acting abilities?
Certainly. I think my role has the most number of shades compared to anybody else's in the serial. One scene, I am playing a loving husband and the second scene, I am an obedient son as Kunal.
Then I change my get-up to play Kuljeet. The fourth scene, I am back to playing Kunal but now as a suspecting husband. The fifth scene, I am playing Kunal, the sad father. Even the character Shaan, who has disappeared now, gave me an immense thrill.
Please elaborate on your stance.
I've enjoyed playing all the three characters. They have all been very challenging for me. I've got a good chance to perform in this serial since there are various shades to these characters.
In the beginning, Kunal was a bit negative, always suspecting his wife, then gradually he turns positive. I enjoyed the various shades, from Kunal to Kuljeet to Shaan. The biggest challenge was to precisely project the character of Kuljeet who is in total contrast to Kunal. But I guess it came easier than I expected, perhaps because I am a Haryanvi.
It was fun because Kunal is shown very reserved, his emotions are reserved, his reactions are reserved. But Kuljeet is happy-go-lucky, great fun and extroverted. I just opened up while playing the character. As for Shaan, my body language portrayed the aggressive shades very well. I think that people too have enjoyed these contrasts.
How did films happen?
Despite the fact that I was doing a daily, I had consciously kept some space so that I could take up a film if and when it came along. I have therefore been very restricted in signed up for shows.
Then Ekta Kapoor offered me her home-production Kucch To Hai (with Tusshar Kapoor, Esha Deol and Natasha). It was a good role, I went ahead with it. A week later, Feroz Khan signed me for Jaanasheen (with Fardeen Khan and Celina Jaitley). The movie is due for a release next month. More recently, I have signed up for a film titled Miss U (with Sohail Khan and Ishaa Koppikar).
How did Jaanasheen actually happen?
Once, I was dropping my pictures at Anupam Kher's office because I'd heard that Kher was contemplating on some project. That was before Kher released Om Jai Jagadish (with Waheeda Rahman, Anil Kapoor, Abhishek Bachchan, Tara Sharma and Mahima Chaudhary). Someone from Feroz Khan's office was sitting there. He spotted me. That time, Khan was doing the casting of Prem Aggan (with Fardeen Khan and Meghna Kothari). I was auditioned but things didn't work out for the film. During the casting of Jaanasheen, my name came up again. This time, I did not falter.
Don't you think it was a blessing in disguise - that you were not a part of 'Prem Aggan'? That film was a disaster.
If I would have been there, it might have been a hit! Who knows! (laughs)
"Had I starred in 'Prem Aggan', it might just have been a hit!"
You did 'Ishq Vishk' too.
MTV's team was involved with Tips for the promotion of Ishq Vishk. I got a call from MTV. They knew me as I had done a music video with them earlier. They asked me to get in touch with the film's director, Ken Ghosh. Thereafter, I underwent an audition.
Is working in films easier as compared to serials?
Comparatively speaking, working in films is easier. There is no hurry. Lots of retakes ensure that there are no glitches whatsoever.
A film canvas is comparatively larger, and tremendous cost is involved. More than the cost, a lot of reputation is at stake. I underline that, today, a lot of money and reputation is involved in television too. But in films you have time to turn it around, rework on it to get the audience.
Any other major differences between the two mediums?
It's very difficult to look glamorous on television. That is due to the restriction of the medium. Television is a closed medium, centred around storytelling.
Even films tell a story, but cinema is not a closed medium. The small screen cannot capture the locale visuals and the glamorous dressing to the extent that the large screen can. Simply put, a good-looking star in films, does not necessarily look good on television too.
Actually, in TV, there's not even a point in trying to look good. It's just how you act. TV audience are all ears - they just want to listen, but the movie audiences are ears as well as eyes. They want to see something exotic, something astounding.
You said you got a good chance of performing in KKR. But don't you think that the focus in the serial is tilted in favour of Sudha Chandran, aka Ramola Sikand?
That's one more drawback of television. To begin with, the programme is sketched for a certain period of time. But if does well, it is invariably stretched. And then the villain's role starts getting prominence.
Negativity in a story is like the spoke of a wheel. If the story is lengthened, the negativity has to be lengthened too.
"I categorise myself as a spontaneous or an instinctive actor. I say whatever comes naturally to me"
Who do you identify with most in KKR - Kunal, Kuljeet or Shaan?
Actually, none. I cannot identify with any of the three characters. I treat them as characters and never compare them to real self.
Yes, sometimes you go through the same experiences that you go through in a serial, but I consider them incidental. I'm totally different in real life. But I'm doing my job fine and the audience is loving it. (Pauses)
On second thoughts, there must be some element of similarity between the real and the reel. In that case, I think the real Yash has shades of Kuljeet, since I'm always happy and keep tension at bay.
How do you classify yourself as an actor?
I categorise myself as a spontaneous or an instinctive actor. I just read the scenes and don't believe in learning my dialogue by heart. I say whatever comes naturally to me and try to keep my emotions correct.
I just try to see the character, what the writer has conveyed, conceive it correctly and then follow it. Only if some additional inputs are required, I add. For instance, for the character of Kuljeet, some extra inputs were required.
What is the probability of your making it big in films? Only few TV actors have done it, till now.
The probability is very good. In fact, it's increasing day by day. Today, the scenario has changed. No star guarantees a hit film. Filmmakers are looking beyond big names. Think of it, it's happening the other way round too - big names from tinselville are getting into tellydom.
A personal question. You married your costar Gauri Yadav aka Nisha of KKR...
For me, it was almost love at first sight. A few days down the line, I proposed to her. She accepted. I guess, I was a very good bachelor and she had no reason to refuse (laughs).
What is it like to have your fiancee calling you 'bhaiji' (brother) in the serial?
(Laughs). I never thought about it. I looked at it differently, that I was getting married to Gauri and not to Nisha. Nisha was just a character.