Last year ‘The Timeliners’ streamed their web series College Romance and its gained a lot of popularity in a short period of time. But there was this one character which made us fall in love with himself instantly. Yes, it was none other than the jolly and swaggy Bagga. The whole West Delhi Swag and the cute ‘Naira-Bagga’ Jodi took our hearts away. The character was portrayed by Gagan Arora. He also had his debut in Bollywood this year as an assistant director for the movie Stree. He also acted in some popular web series like Girls Hostel by Girliyapa and some TVF videos.
In a conversation with Gagan Arora:
Tell us something about your life. What do you do in your free time? What are your hobbies?
I love outdoor sports. I am a very outdoor kind of person. Playing basketball is one among my favourites. This is one sport that’s closest because I’ve played it for 6 years in school. I do photography too. Mostly in my free time, I pick up my camera and click pictures. I try to catch on to most content that’s available right now.
Also read “Love is the only real and true emotion in the universe”- Kritika Avasthi aka ‘Maggu’ from Engineering Girls
What motivates you to keep going in life?
The aim of becoming significant keeps me motivated. I keep on going in life and try and make an effort. In today’s time when there’s an immense amount of talent around us and there are people who can genuinely outshine you any day, there are reasons to be replaced every day. Its the scare of being replaced and the motivated of becoming significant that keeps me going.
As we all know you’ve taken your big step in Bollywood as an assistant director in the movie ‘Stree’. How were the experience working with the team and such great actors?
The experience of working on Stree was amazing. I was coming from a film school and started film making. We all dream of ending up on a film set one day and that dream came true. I was on set and I saw hundreds of people working in sync. It was so beautiful that whatever you study was coming true. It felt like a piece of big machinery where every part of it is making a contribution to make that final product come alive. The actors were amazing. I look up to them. They all were so warm and down to earth.
The experience was phenomenal in the way that all of us was staying in a small town called Chanderi which was around 200-300 km from Bhopal. The town had no signal, no source of entertainment. There were only 2 hotels and all of us was staying together. Every night we used to play games and have fun together.
The thing that made Stree special for everybody was that it was such a warm setting to be on. The set was all laughter and fun and suddenly when we used to shift to work, everybody was working in precision and with discipline and sincerity. I have been a theatre artist and this has been a game changer for me. When I saw Rajkumar Rao perform, it was magical. Pankaj Tripathi Sir’s knowledge of timings was amazing. I think all the fun we had behind the scenes and care we developed for each other converted on screen also and that’s what made Stree what it is right now.
Movie/TV Show: Goodwill Hunting, Andaaz Apna Apna, Andhadhun, Tumbaad
Holiday Destination: I think it’s not about the destination, it’s about the company
Song: ‘Chupke Chupke Raat Din’
College Romance Co-Actor: All of them
Shopping Destination: I don’t shop. Either my mom or my girlfriend shops for me.
How has this industry transformed you as a person?
The industry hasn’t transformed me at all because I haven’t been in the industry for that long. Mostly I have been behind the camera first and I’ve just started acting so I know how things function and a bubble gets created around the actors. The transformation has been like I now really understand what it takes to make a film, web series or any sort of content. I really respect and admire any sort of content that I see now because I know what it takes to make something like this.
What roles your friends and family played in your journey?
These are the people who should really be getting all the credits for who and what I am today. My friends have been there for me always. They have shown me the mirror in dark times when I just couldn’t make decisions. They used to tell and remind me how good I am at acting and direction. My brother supported me a lot. He was the one who convinced my parents to let me try things at least for once and see how it goes.
There’s this eternal love of parents that they don’t want their kid to go away from them, that obviously happened with me also. But after some time they made my every small achievement feel so huge for me. Whenever I am down and feeling low, these are the people who come across and tell me not to give up and how I am destined to do something way beyond this. These are the people who actually believed in me when even I didn’t believe in myself.
What kind of struggles did you face? How did you overcome them?
I’ve been very lucky in terms of getting work as in getting my first film as Stree and then my first web series as College Romance. My struggles have mostly been mental in the sense that I always had to make the choice of working for money or for creative satisfaction. I worked in a big company for almost 1 and a half years where I had no creative satisfaction but in monetary terms, it was doing very good. Then I realized that whatever I was doing would not make any change and will not make my story interesting. After I left that job, I was jobless for 8 months and then I started getting progress one by one.
So the biggest struggle was when I left my job as an executive producer and started working as an assistant director. That was the one loop I had to break to be where I am today. So I had to decide whether to choose money or creative satisfaction and I am very happy I choose creative satisfaction.
What advice would you like to give to the aspiring youngsters in this field?
A lot of people try to enter this field without any knowledge or learning. I am not saying you have to go to film school or theatre but its just you need to know and learn the craft a little. You can’t just expect the things to happen just because you want them to happen. If you want to become an actor and don’t want to go to film school or do theatre, at least take some workshops before coming to the field and try to learn the craft a little. This may seem very easy when others do it but it’s definitely a craft which only a few have mastered. My suggestion would be, try and get some knowledge before making life decisions for yourself and trying to enter the field because it may look glamorous but it is hard work and definitely a craft.
Your role as ‘Bagga’ in “College Romance’ is loved by a mass of people. How did you adapt yourself for the role?
Getting with the role was not very tough for me in the as I am from Delhi and I have seen a lot of ‘Baggas’ around. Maybe that’s why it connected to so many people because there’s always a person like Bagga in every group. I started picking up things from people. The writers were from Delhi, the whole crew was from Delhi so I got a lot of help on the sets also. But most of it was me growing up in Delhi where I have heard all of the slangs and abuses and I tried to pick it up in my character also.
Life in a Nutshell
Things you never leave home without: “Jeb me phone or Chehre pe Muskaan” (Phone in the pocket, a smile on the face)
A song that describes you: “Khud hi ko khud se mila de”
Favourite excuse getting away from things: I am shooting
A thing that annoys you the most: That people are not punctual
Stress Reliever: Outdoor Sports and Photography
What kind of person you are in real life? Are you like Bagga or something else?
I am nothing like Bagga. I don’t like getting into fights and would never wear such tight clothes and apply so much of gel in my hair. In terms of personalities, he is also a very passionate person when it comes to his friends and girlfriend and I am like that too. In terms of comparison, I don’t abuse that much, break things or get into fights. Count me very far from Bagga.
Have there been some funny or weird incidents with you on sets of Stree and College Romance? Tell us about some which are really special to you?
They are not really funny incidents but very emotional and special one which helped me grow. When I was in film school, there’s a saying that “If you come on to end credits roll, you become immortal”. So I was not sure if my name is going to be on the end credits roll or not because I joined on the second schedule but then I was called in the screening. That day I got my hopes high and when I saw my name on the end credits roll, I told myself that now I am immortal because once in there at the part of that list, you are the part of history and that kid that saw the dream 2 years back came true. It was an amazing feeling.
There is a funny incident from College Romance. On my first day, I was very nervous as I was the last actor to be finalized. All of the other actors have done some work before and I have seen it. So the first scene we shot was where I get slapped in the canteen as we do not shoot in the order. I told my co-actor to slap me for real so that the reaction can look real. Everyone was ready for the scene and only we two knew it is going to happen for real. Then the camera started rolling and he slapped me so hard that I went numb for a few seconds and all my co-actors were shocked.
All the reactions you saw in the scene were all real. There were 50 other students sitting in the canteen, they all went silent. I picked myself up and did the whole scene and as soon as the director said cut, all the students in the canteen started clapping. It was my first take and by seeing those reactions, all my nervous vanished and I felt so good. But yeah, that slap was really hard.:p
What are your future plans?
I am still figuring out a lot of things. What things I should do or should not do. The fact that should I consider myself as an actor and take this seriously as I know a lot of people loved my character but my first love is the direction. I am on that crossroad where I am thinking what should I actually be doing. Should I continue acting or should I pursue my immortal dream of direction or both!
What should be the last line of your biography?
If this didn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will.
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