Although it’s not been very long since he began his journey as an actor, Vijay Pushkar has been taking it one step at a time. Starting as a photographer, Vijay moved to modelling, filming ads, and starred in a web series, and he’s still going. While talking to me about how he is in real life and how people perceive him to be, based on the characters they have seen him play on-screen till now, he reveals a side to him that has not been witnessed by anybody else until now.
While work and other projects have kept him busy pre-covid, the past year has been quite introspective for Vijay – he has taken the time to understand himself better and has even constructively decided on what he wants to do with life moving forward. “Self-realization only happens when you spend time with yourself,” he says. He looks at this time positively and has been following a routine – a cup of black coffee in the mornings, followed by a workout at home. “Sometimes, I go for a jog, and I also like to indulge in Yoga and meditation.” He has also picked up a few basics in cooking – he emphasized Dal, Sabzi, and Biryani. He has also caught up on old Hindi classics, especially Raj Kapoor’s films, has taken up reading books on motivation, self-help, and spirituality, and has even dived into gardening and painting.
Since childhood, Vijay has been into painting, and he still enjoys it. He also likes to sing and takes delight in singing old Hindi classics from the 60s. He says, “Mukesh, R.D. Burman, Mohammed Rafi – their songs have this eternal charm, and they really speak to your soul. Old music can be healing. Music has helped me gain perspective during tough life situations.“
An avid reader, all the books he has read to date have helped Vijay become a better person. When asked about his favourites, he mentioned ‘Many Lives, Many Masters’, ‘Emotion and Relationships‘ by Sadhguru, ‘The Secret’, ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ by Paramahansa Yogananda, ‘Who Will Cry When You Die’ by Robin Sharma and his latest read – ‘The Last Lecture‘. He says, “I am more into spiritual and self-help books; they teach you something in a way fiction doesn’t. Books are like my mentors.”
He also shared a memorable experience with us. A surprise gift for his childhood friend, he talked about his recent trip to Dubai in December. “It was her first Christmas after the wedding. On Christmas Eve, my wife and I, along with another friend, surprised her after work – we were inside huge gift-wrapped boxes! It was wonderful to see her so happy. I was there for nine days, and we celebrated Christmas and New Year’s together. As this was my first trip to Dubai, I explored the beautiful city. I loved the infrastructure and planning. Apart from that, I also enjoyed shopping, the desert safari, night camping and visiting the Burj Khalifa.”
During our conversation, he talked a little about his childhood and how he was bullied during his teenage years, after shifting from a chawl to a better locality with better housing (for which he was so grateful as a kid). “I didn’t really have friends; parents of children of my age group would instruct their kids to stay away from me.” Even as a kid, Vijay was aware of his priorities and decided to focus more on his studies, and he was very good at it. He desired to pursue commercial arts after finishing school, but his mother was adamant about finishing his education. Given their economic background, his family wanted him to find a stable and secure job. These are the humble beginnings of a rising star.
Love for the camera – both on and off
For Vijay, acting was a matter of chance. An architecture aspirant, he, unfortunately, couldn’t go through his college education and had to drop off mid-year. “I’ve always been a creative kid; I wanted to do something constructive.” He then went on to join a six-month photography course in Mumbai. “I only had plans to stay for 6 months, but I never left,” he says.
Coming from a conservative family to the glamorous world of modelling and film industry, he found stark differences from dressing styles to culture. Attracted to this new life, he was motivated to learn anew. He wasn’t expecting so much encouragement from everyone around him to try modelling as a career. “I was very hesitant; I felt more comfortable behind the camera,” he says. Two years later, it was Indian actress Mughda Godse’s turn to encourage Vijay. Coming from an established senior artist in the industry, he was convinced that there must be something to the constant prompts to take up modelling and decided to try his hand at it.
Having an established portfolio, he took to circulating it among agencies. “You won’t believe it; within two months, I got 16 modelling projects,” he adds proudly. His first shoot was with Femina, who were launching their first men’s issue in 2012. He also commented on how as a photographer, he would get 2 or 3 projects a month, sometimes even none, but projects started piling up as a model. His modelling career flourished compared to photography, and from 2012 to 2016, his life has been all about ramp walks and advertisements, something he is still a part of! As he gained popularity in the ad world, casting agencies approached him for different television shows and web series. “I was hesitant at first. Modelling and acting in ads is one thing; acting in movies or TV shows and web series is entirely different.” First cast in a Marathi film, he slowly started making a name for himself in the film industry.
From modelling to shooting ads, being cast in a web series seemed like a natural progression for Vijay. “Honestly, I love being in front of the camera.” He also claimed that he loved all three equally. For him, the sets – the lights, cameras, trolleys – are the best part. He explains that good set-ups can almost always guarantee a great performance.
Being an experienced photographer and having adequate knowledge of the technicalities behind photography helped him as a model as well as an actor. He highlighted, “Actors should know where the main light and the camera is being positioned, and this takes time to learn. Learning these technical aspects is not really a part of acting.” He explained that most actors take a lot of time to learn about these settings and through experience on the sets.
He states that acting is all about visualization, and every actor should know how to manage it. “I always visualize a scene, and it really helps me perfect my acting.” Even if a co-star isn’t involved, visualizing them helps deliver dialogues, especially during close-up scenes.
Vijay’s first big project was Split Ends, where he played the lead as Gautam, opposite actress Mouli Ganguly. He shares, “All the senior actors made me feel comfortable on set and helped me ease my hesitation. I was also under the guidance of a very talented Director, Prashant Patil. Also, special thanks to Producer Parinita Srivastava who believed in me, and it was her conviction that instilled confidence in me to portray this challenging role.”
While the lead character Gautam is young, clueless and indecisive, Vijay finds that he is the exact opposite. “My journey has been very different from that of my character. I like to take things one step at a time, so that keeps me balanced. On the other hand, Gautam doesn’t know what he wants.” He has learnt to accept what comes his way, instead of going haywire and believes in working towards his goal so that the odds are in his favour.
The pandemic started soon after the release of Split Ends. However, he has kept himself busy with work. He shot four TV ads as well as a web series that is yet to be released. He added, “It is based on a real event and is similar to Mirzapur. I feel grateful to work with so many senior actors, and I look forward to playing similar roles in the future.”
Vijay also starred alongside Shahrukh Khan in Hyundai’s TV commercial, and for him, it was like a dream come true. He revealed, “Until the look test audition, which is the final round, I wasn’t informed that I would be shooting with him. When I was on set, I had goosebumps, and I was nervous throughout the shoot. He has that charisma; watching him work was like watching his movie. His kind words, ‘khush raho beta‘ made me comfortable and will always stay with me.”
His biggest takeaway from this experience was that he witnessed Shahrukh Khan’s dedication and passion towards his work, which inspired him, and he wishes to imbibe this quality in every work that he takes up.
On rejection, critics and nepotism
Getting into acting, Vijay realised that rejection is a process that every actor must go through. It is only when actors go for auditions do they realise what they lack. It helped him overcome his fear of facing the camera. Going to several auditions also gave him the chance to observe people and learn from them. He always took it in his stride and kept working on himself through all of it. He believes that the more you try something, the more you get to learn from your experiences. There was definitely a lot of struggle, but he kept moving forward. He states that being hard on yourself is not the solution.
“Everything helps you to be your best – I’m constantly learning from my seniors and from my work experience.“Says Vijay Pushkar
Facing the critics can be a really daunting task for an actor. He, however, likes to stay positive no matter what comes his way. He says, “Even if you’re good, people will try to pull you down; but I try to learn from everything and focus more on myself.” He went on to add that dwelling on these rejections only affects us and our mental health and strays us from our goal. “I know what I am doing, and nobody else is walking in my shoes.” However, he also emphasised that just as there is criticism, there is also praise.
He also seems to be completely unfazed by nepotism. He points out, “I believe in focusing on my work and I am a strong believer in destiny. If destiny is in your favour and you’re focused on your goals, nobody can take away what’s rightfully yours.”
He definitely finds both acting and modelling very different and quips that “Modelling is easier – you don’t have to take care of anything, just make sure that you get your poses correct. Modelling is limited to our physical appearance, while acting requires that you get into your character and portray it to perfection. Acting definitely demands more dedication.” He added that modelling is all about fashion and that performance in modelling is very limited.
He also expressed his interest in broadening his career and not limiting himself to only acting or modelling. He feels he will always be part of the modelling world; he enjoys seeing the emotions captured in a fraction of a second. “I wouldn’t want to segregate acting and modelling because I am passionate about both and love them equally. As long as I am in front of the camera, I will be happy.”
“I never let go of an opportunity to grab and learn something new.”Says Vijay Pushkar
Apart from acting, he also wants to try his hand at cinematography, personality development and image consultancy and hopes to make a positive change. “Through my journey, I’ve learnt a lot, and I want to share that experience. I want to help people flourish.”
Passions, aspirations and inspirations
If not for acting, Vijay would have liked to be an architect and admits that he has always been good at painting and drafting sketches.
“Creativity makes me happier. I want to dedicate my entire life to it.”Says Vijay Pushkar
The film industry is huge; we have seen some spectacular performances from the beginning. There are many actors who inspire him, but when asked to pick one, he chose Manoj Bajpayee. He added, “He is a powerful performer in every role he portrays, and he really brings out the character. He is also effortless with his emotions.” He also found the star to be very humble.
Discussing his favourite movie genres, he prefers watching realistic movies – stories inspired by real-life incidents, and wants to be associated with this niche in future projects. “I want to play a real character and not some heroic, fictional character.” He loves the work done by Manoj Bajpayee and Ayushmann Khurana in this genre. “I want to portray characters with dimensions, not someone who’s black and white. I want to be emotionally involved with my character,” he says.
Pearls of wisdom – for budding actors and models
He believes that getting into acting as a profession is a personal choice. For modelling and acting aspirants, his advice is – “You need to focus on yourself, your goals, be hardworking, and you need to have a lot of patience in this industry. Prepare yourselves to be constantly judged and criticised.”
He also shared his most important learning – one shouldn’t say no to any kind of work that comes their way. He believes that there will always be something to learn from whatever we decide to do. This particular attitude is exactly what has always pushed the actor to take everything in his stride and scale the heights to reach where he is today.
“I never say no to any opportunity. You never know what you’ll learn.” Says Vijay Pushkar
We also asked him about upcoming Instagram reels and Tik-Tok actors. While he doesn’t deny that most of them are talented, he does not believe that they’re really acting. “They can become good bloggers or influencers, but definitely not an established actor.”
He also commented on the confusion of today’s youth because of the number of choices they are exposed to. He says, “They’re always in two minds and don’t know what they really want, whether it’s about relationships or careers.” He finds that too many options are available to them on a platter which can be frustrating. “You can pick good choices and go ahead with life, but they’re not moving on. They’re still stuck and focusing on deciding what to do.”
A preview of the man on camera
Vijay believes that becoming an actor is like having a second birth in the same lifetime. “I am a labour’s son, who lived a simple life in a chawl, studied in a government school and grew up to become an actor. In a family of 6, my father was the only earning member.” He shared his life goals of supporting education for underprivileged kids, nursing homes, and mostly giving back to society. He has immense faith in goodwill and destiny.
However, he claims that he has always been a go-getter and had a very different vision. “I took everything as a challenge and wanted to prove myself, I have always been very stubborn with my choices, and I always aim to achieve every goal when I set my eye on it.”
He states that it’s a quality that has stuck with him even today. Given his desire to pursue commercial arts and being encouraged to pursue modelling, even when he was in school and his strong belief in destiny, we can confidently conclude that it was all written in the stars for Vijay!