‘I have danced with Sushmita Sen!’

‘She got really close, and I was like, oh Miss Universe and me dancing!’

IMAGE: Vikas Kumar in Aarya Antim Vaar. Photograph: Kind courtesy Vikas Kumar/Instagram

Vikas Kumar has already made such a career of playing cop in Powder, Khotey Sikkey, Ajji, CID, Aarya that everyone fondly calls him the new generation Iftekhar (GenZers, please click here to know who Iftekhar was).

Vikas feels playing ACP Younus Khan in Aarya stands out as his chemistry with Sushmita Sen is quite interesting.

As Aarya arrives at its finale, Vikas tells Patcy N/Rediff.com: “What makes it interesting is ACP Khan can look at the woman beyond the criminal. Aarya also can look at the man behind the cop.”

ACP Younus Khan has been a part of Aarya from the beginning. How do you see your character’s growth?

Earlier, my job was to finish the drug racket in Rajasthan.

It started with just getting information from Aarya’s husband and when he gets killed, to get that from Aarya.

Then he realises that she’s not co-operating and she’s getting into wrong company doing exactly what her husband didn’t want her to do.

My character is being a friend, a guide, trying to prevent her from going the wrong way.

In the second season, for the case to be completed, Aarya needs to give testimony in court, but she backs out.

ACP Khan takes it personally.

Season two was a little personal for my character as it showed his relationship.

It ended with Aarya becoming a don.

In the final season, I go after her to stop this drug menace.

What makes it interesting is ACP Khan can look at the woman beyond the criminal.

Aarya also can look at the man behind the cop.

Our exchanges in the show make it interesting.

In Season three, it’s very clear that Aarya is fully in the drug trade; she’s not just a supplier, she wants to be a producer too.

ACP Khan’s job is simple: To nab whoever is in this trade.

So it’s straightforward, exciting and more action-oriented.

IMAGE: Vikas Kumar and Sushmita Sen in Aarya Antim Vaar. Photograph: Kind courtesy Vikas Kumar/Instagram

Have you watched the original Dutch show Penoza?

A lot of things have changed. Firstly, it’s based in India, in Rajasthan, and in the opium fields.

The whole setting changes everything.

I have been tempted to watch the show, but haven’t seen a single episode.

Before Season three, I voiced my thoughts in front of Shraddha Pasi, who’s the director on the new season. She was the associate director in season one.

She said, ‘You’re doing it your own way and you’re doing it absolutely fine. Your ACP Khan is very different from the cop there. There is no need to look at his performance.’

As the show comes to an end, is there a feeling of loss, as you have lived this for almost four years now?

I try to leave it on set before I go home.

I am one of the people responsible for giving life to ACP Khan apart from the writers, creators, the directors and unit members, so there is a certain attachment to playing the part.

It’s the audiences’ love that has ensured a season two, season three… that’s how OTT works.

Let’s hope season three also receives as much love.

You never know there’s more coming…

You mean, Season 4?

There’s nothing as of now.

But we didn’t know about Season two when we did the first season.

The stakes are high for Aarya now, as she cornered by Ila Arun’s character, the Russians and ACP Khan. It’s the Antim Vaar… but you never know.

IMAGE: Vikas Kumar and Sushmita Sen in Aarya Antim Vaar. Photograph: Kind courtesy Vikas Kumar/Instagram

What was working with Director Ram Madhvani like?

I call his direction ‘invisible’. He gives minimum direction.

As a producer, he makes sure everyone is happy.

We are put up in the best hotels, fed well, everything is just taken care off.

As a director, he ensures that his technicians are in place, the scene that he creates, the platform that he gives us is conducive to a natural performance.

I’ll give you an example. Like in a house, everything will be functional.

It’s not like the fridge is not working. It will be filled with everything.

So when you enter that space, you just live there and he captures it.

His method of shooting is a mix of theatre, cinema and documentary.

Like in theatre, there will be long sequences and for half an hour, the cameras are just rolling and you’re doing your thing.

The cameras are very far, and don’t come in your face.

It’s not intruding and that makes it easy for us.

Just like a documentary film-maker would just capture it from outside, he wants to just capture it.

And there’s cinema; it’s coming on the screen, and he knows how to capture that.

He doesn’t enact anything for you. He will come and whisper into your ear if something is not getting translated.

He’s a very calm but energetic director.

All the directors on this show have learned under him, assisted him, so they follow the Ram Madhvani School of Film-Making. Which is, cameras don’t intrude, he doesn’t use lights, so there are no cutters, there are not many people on the sets.

You go there, and do your thing. You are being captured, nothing will disturb you.

IMAGE: Vikas Kumar and Sushmita Sen in Aarya Season 2. Photograph: Kind courtesy Vikas Kumar/Instagram

One of the reasons you signed Aarya was Sushmita Sen.

Yes. I had played a few cop roles before and (casting director) Abhimanyu Ray was responsible for two of the projects (Powder and Khotey Sikkey).

He knew I would be hesitant to play a cop again.

But he said it’s a very important role and has many layers. Then he revealed that Sushmita Sen is playing Aarya and most of my scenes would be with her.

It was a huge yes from my side because our confrontation scenes were really nice.

There are layers to the character because there is a confrontation but I am also being protective about her.

She is also not treating me as a regular cop.

In ’90s cinema, you were taken seriously as an actor if you did serious roles.

Actors like Sushmita Sen, who has won a Filmfare Award for Biwi No 1, was probably not considered in the same league as other leading ladies.

Forget Sushmita, even Govinda did not really got his due then.

So I think Aarya is something that will change things for her, as an actor.

She comes with a lot of discipline and eagerness to perform.

She’s helpful, she’s prepared. We feed off each other.

IMAGE: Vikas Kumar and Sushmita Sen on the sets of Aarya. Photograph: Kind courtesy Vikas Kumar/Instagram

How was the atmosphere on and off the sets?

Ram Madhvani’s sets, especially outdoors, are a party.

There aren’t extremely long working hours, they wrap up on time.

When we’re outdoors, we bond even more because we are having meals together.

The nights before a holiday, we have a party.

I have danced with Sushmita Sen! She has taught me a few steps.

That was the only time I got a little bit… I won’t say intimidated, but I was a little shy.

We were dancing to Gori Gori from Main Hoon Na and then she said Khansaab, let me teach you the steps.

She got really close, and I was like, oh Miss Universe and me dancing!

It was a fun moment.

Which other male character on the show has fascinated you?

Daulat, played by Sikander Kher.

Many actors act through dialogues.

But I am somebody who looks forward to staying quiet. I just love it when there’s less responsibility of learning lines.

Daulat has few lines and I would love to be that silent guy, just standing.

Sikander is perfectly cast and has great presence.

IMAGE: Vikas Kumar in Aarya Antim Vaar. Photograph: Kind courtesy Vikas Kumar/Instagram

Do you think it was necessary to show your character as gay?

No. It was a choice that they made and I think it was a great one.

I think it just helps him, and brings out a human side of Khan, a more compassionate side.

I am glad they made him gay because I would like to believe that in all the content that has come, we have set a benchmark for how gay relationships should be treated. They should be treated normally.

Like that single scene in Season one, where it was introduced, when Ajay comes to the police station with a tiffin.

When I go back to the house, instead of a woman, a man opens the door.

He’s cooking, and he just comes, presses my shoulder, and says, ‘Chill, it will be okay.’

It was very beautifully shot and a lot of things were impromptu.

The director for the day Sandeep Mody told me that the dialogues weren’t written, I would have to convey in the scene that we are live-in partners.

So I just went into the scene and said, ‘Ammi ka phone aaya tha, ho sakta hai woh agle hafte aaye. Maine tumhare liye paas mein hotel book kiya hai.’

My co-actor Nishank Verma didn’t know this was coming. He suddenly looked at me and said, ‘Ammi se nahi milaogey?

That was such a beautiful moment.

His character’s name is Ajay, but it could have been Jaya, and it would have been the same.

I think Aarya has set the standard in terms of how such scenes and relationships should be shown on screen.

There was nothing dramatic about it. It’s not a reveal nor is it used for comic relief.

Illa Arun has joined the cast. You didn’t have scenes with her in the first four episodes.

We have lots of scenes in part two of Season 3.

Illaji is a veteran. When she comes on set, she makes it look so easy and it is so effective.

I’ve been a fan since Nigodi Kaisi Jawani Hai and Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai.

I have also seen a couple of plays she has done.

I personally bonded very well with her.

It’s a treat watching her perform. It’s surreal when you’ve been a fan of people and then you get to work with them.

IMAGE: Vikas Kumar with John Abraham and Diana Penty on the sets of Parmanu. Photograph: Kind courtesy Vikas Kumar/Instagram

You have done multiple cop roles…

Yes, people jokingly say, ‘Tu aaj ke zamaane ka Iftekar hai.’

All my cop roles are different from one another, whether it’s Jagdale from Powder or Deshmukh in Khotey Sikkey.

The funny thing is that I have never worn a cop uniform in any of the films and shows I’ve done.

The only time I wore a uniform when I played army men in Parmanu and Hamid.