Pratik Gandhi on how casteism affects every sphere of life: ‘It’s one of the biggest demons we are fighting’
In a new interview with Hindustan Times, Pratik Gandhi talks about his new show The Great Indian Murder, his experiences with the caste system, and much more.
Pratik Gandhi, who will soon be seen in Tigmanshu Dhulia's web show, The Great Indian Murder, and has said that the issue of casteism is a deep-rooted one in the country. He also shared incidences when it affected his work. Based on Vikas Swarup's Six Suspects, the upcoming web show will also explore the way the caste system affects day-to-day life in our country. In a new interview with Hindustan Times, Pratik has shared incidences of his first-hand experience with casteism.
Asked if he has experienced the difficulties caused by the caste system in real life, Pratik said, "The caste system is so deep-rooted in our society for all processes. Beyond a point, it is difficult to realise how wrong it is. Even our regular discussions, the way work has been distributed, the way our surnames are given, everything (involves caste system)."
Asked if he would like to share an incident from real life when he experienced it, the actor said, "I used to work for a company and they used to set up power plants across India. For that, we had to acquire land and the landowners would seek jobs in our company in return, apart from the price of the land. And, you do not get educated people as landowners all the time. When they are not educated, you can offer them jobs of a helper or those kinds of jobs. But, if the landowner was from a higher caste, he would not be ready to take up those jobs. For them, it is difficult to differentiate between their jobs and their personal identities. It is about their ego. Things do not work like that in today's corporate world, but for them, it is a question of life. I have seen and experienced this. When I heard this the first time, I could not believe it. I was like 'what is this guy thinking' and more importantly, I'd think 'how do you change it?."
Also read: The Great Indian Murder trailer: Richa Chadha-Pratik Gandhi are on the case
He added, "And, I am talking not about far back, I am talking about just five years ago. It (the mentality) is everywhere, I did that (sought land for the company and encountered such people) in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, South, everywhere.. the issue may not be the same, the intensity may be different but the basic issue is same."
The theme of casteism is also a major part of The Great Indian Murder. Pratik also said, "The issue of caste is deeply rooted in Indian society. Be it north, south, east, or west, it is one of the biggest demons we are all fighting with. A lot of systems and processes are designed in such a way that the entire caste system is difficult to get away with. I can only wish we get rid of these things as fast as we can. This is very well adapted in the screenplay and was part of the story, the book as well. Tigmanshu Dhulia understands these things very well. He comes from the heartland and you will enjoy all these nuances in the story."
About his character, Pratik said, "My character's name is Suraj Yadav. He is an investigating officer - a CBI officer. He has come up the ranks very fast and knows the entire system so well that he can manipulate it well. He is a pro at bureaucracy and is very well-connected as well. He is a flawed character and has been put on the case to take it to another level. Mine and Richa Chadha's (roles), we are both not part of the book (Six Suspects). These were specially written for the series. My character is also kind of narrator for the story."
Asked about the confrontation scenes between Pratik and Richa in the show, he said, "Richa and I have a few confrontation scenes, but it all worked out very well. She is a fantastic actor. When you get that kind of an actor, there is a lot to explore. We were able to create the magic on set. Also, Tigmanshu is also an actor - he is the director but also an actor so he understands."
Before he came to the national limelight with Sony LIV's web show, The Scam 1992, Pratik have had his share of struggles. Talking about the time when he faced financial troubles and had two medical emergencies in the family, Pratik said, “What kept me going was hope and a positive attitude. These were the only things I had. The support of the whole family works as an anchor. If you fall down, most things are not in my control. But, it is difficult to understand that when you are in the situation. First, you need to admit the situation. Only then you can start talking about the solution. By design, upbringing, and perhaps engineering background, my mental bend is to look for solutions. I cannot think about problems for long without looking for solutions.”
Pratik has shared earlier that his wife had surgery to remove a brain tumour and around the same time, his father had to be hospitalised because of cancer. He eventually lost his father.
For his first play where he essayed the role of a guard, Pratik used to practice for his role at night, after he used to complete his day job. Asked about doing night shifts as a full-time actor now, Pratik said, “I like that I can concentrate more on what I am doing now. My passion. But, I am still compromising the time for my family. I used to compromise on their time earlier and, even now. I try and compensate when I am at home. We all find some time whenever possible.”
Pratik, who is married to actor Bhamini Oza, added: “A lot of complaints keep coming my way. My wife is also an actor, but she is a wife. Of course, we understand each other's profession. But my daughter often asks me not to go to shootings. I tell her that there are many people involved, and I cannot skip going to shoots. She asks me to take her to shoot.”