GAURAV PAHARI UNFILTERED YET REFINED
Mr. Gaurav Pahari is an open book. That, however, is a euphemism as he as chatty as anything. Then again, because he is an open book, you can read him like one. Additionally, that also makes him highly approachable, likeable, and above all, relatable; all contributing in small or large towards the stardom he has achieved today. Off screen, he’s just a genuine guy, with a personality that unfiltered, yet refined. That is why the following interview with him is crude, in its purest form, trails off at some points, unadulterated, and conversational. Just like how Mr. Pahari is.
Pretty much what’s there to be covered about your life has been covered in your past interviews. However, I’d like to dig in a bit deeper and try to unearth the why’s and how’s. I hope that’s cool.
Sure. Of course.
Great. So, you spent most of your childhood away from your family. What was that like?
My dad was always busy and away with his work. My mom must’ve had a hard time raising 3 kids on her own that way. So, me and my brothers were put in a hostel. And for some reason, I just enjoyed being there. Perhaps it was the freedom or the fact that my parents weren’t hovering above me, I simply liked being in there, away from family and with my friends.
And because I was away for so long, I’ve been shaped like that. Right now, I live with my family, but whenever I’m out and it’s evening time and my phone rings and it’s my mom, I get annoyed. Bless her heart and I love her, but it just irritates me.
You’ve mentioned in the past that you’re quite vocal about this so I’m, just going to dare to ask you: During this time period, you got into drugs. Was it because of the friends you were around with and their peer pressure on you?
I’ve never been the kind to be swayed by others. And the way I got into drugs is because I was curious. See, after I did my SLC, I did my A Levels, flunked it and got into +2 in Kerala, India. There, I was in a circle of some senior brothers who organized a lot of huge parties. So, I’d be hanging around them and have a couple of drinks like every other night. This one time though, one of the guys had brought in some brown sugar. And at that moment, it wasn’t anyone who asked me to try, I was just curious. I gave it a shot.
Then gave it another.
And another until I was like I couldn’t have fun without it.
But you’re clean now. Did you go to a rehab for it?
I have always been that guy who discouraged my friends whenever they were going to take their drugs. So, I like to think that I have a certain level of control. And because of that self-control, I realized that whatever I was doing is getting me into some deep shit. And Because of it, I’ve been clean for 10 years now. No rehab for me. Just my own conscience.
Now that we’re talking about you time in India, you went to Kerala first, then Pune, then Mumbai where you learned acting and films. But before all of it, did your have any prior experience in the movie industry?
Not really regarding the film industry, but I had an early expose to cameras. During my A Levels, I used to work at Kantipur Media Group, both behind and in front of the camera, and just fell in love with it all. But then again, I’ve never been the one to step on stage for anything. Even in school, I never set foot on the stage of our auditorium for anything. The only time I stepped on it was when I was there a few months back to promote Saili.
“I TOOK ANY AND EVERY GIG THAT CAME MY WAY. FROM IRANIAN WAFER ADS TO BHOJPURI FILMS, I DID IT ALL AND STILL ATE ONE MEAL A DAY.”
And when did you realize that acting is your thing?
Guess I always had it.
But you never mentioned it to your dad until later on. Him being an actor too, wouldn’t he have supported your ambition?
Perhaps. But he always told us 3 brothers that we need to finish our undergrads before we’re free to pursue our interests and heart’s desires.
That, and I always feared him. Mostly because I feared him. See, he always appeared on screens as a villain, and because of that, I always saw him as a villain at home as well. If I had to ask him for anything, I always went to him through mom first.
But regardless of the late blooming, I think I’m doing fine now.
I guess every son is scared of his dad to some degree. So, what was it like in Mumbai after you finished studying?
Shitty. Mumbai’s an expensive city so making ends meet is hard. And to make them meet, I took any and every gig that came my way. From Iranian wafer ads to Bhojpuri films, I did it all and still ate one meal a day.
And the funny thing is, I auditioned to so many parts and even got them because of my looks and skills. But got rejected towards the end when they found out that I’m a Nepalese guy. It wasn’t a racial thing, it was just that my dialect didn’t come to mark with an Indian dialect they required.
So, I spent a lot of time doing these quick and easy but small jobs. I always reflected on how I had the passion but do I have a patience for it? And one fine day, I received a phone call from Ganesh Dev Panday. He was in Mumbai as well working as an assistant director. He offered me a roll on a movie he wanted to do, and as he was explaining my character, I made him stop mid-sentence and just jumped the boat in a heartbeat.
I called dad to ask him if this was a good idea, and he said that it’s my life, it’s my decision. I counted that as his blessings and did the role as my first actual film; Manjari.
Bringing up your dad once more, he too was prominent in India, having worked with the likes of Mithun Chakraborty. So, he must’ve had a lot of strong connections. Why didn’t you use them when you were having such a hard time?
I never really wanted to. I mean, if I wanted to, I could have used his connects in our industry and made it to the top much earlier. But I’m not like that. I wanted to make it on my own. I mean, many people don’t even know that I’m Tika Pahari’s son because of that.
And he’s not like that either. He did know I was suffering. He wanted me to go through that phase of hardship and I did as well. I asked my friends and brothers for help sometimes, but never him.
I’d like to take you off course a bit now. There’s this friend of yours named Bibek who helped you a lot during this time period. So, if you were to find a Gaurav some time in your life, would you be a Bibek to him or her?
Bibek not only gave me financial support, but moral as well. He has a production house now in India and is doing well. Every now and then he calls me up and tells me ‘yaar tum toh Nepal ka star hogaya.’ I am still in debt to him for it all.
And if I were to come across someone struggling, of course. Specially if the person is an aspiring actor, because other professions like doctors and engineers have a designated job positions after their graduation. Actors can’t get in on a movie by waving their certificates and diplomas.
The reason why I went on with this tangent is because helping out is a part of human emotions. And human emotions seem to be ever present in all of your movies. So, let’s have a run down; Manjari was about the romance between a rich girl and a poor guy. Hostel was about friendship. Utsav was, again, about friendship. Gajalu was about friendship again, with a little bit of religion in it. Raato Ghar was about crime and money.
Raato Ghar had friendship too.
“I’D ALWAYS GET ASKED WHEN I LOST MY VIRGINITY, WHEN I LOST IT, ALL THAT. AND I’D TELL IT TO THEM FLAT, CANDID AND ALL, AND THEY’D BE SHOCKED BY THE FRANKNESS.”
Sure, just didn’t want to repeat myself.
Then Gangster Blues–
Oh no, I wasn’t in Gangster Blues. I was supposed to be, but due to clashing commitments, we weren’t able to do it.
Cool cool. Then Chakka Panja was about fraud and money and love, Gauki Chhori was about women empowerment, politics, and national development. Mr. Virgin’s an adult comedy about sex, and your latest venture, Saili’s about brain drain and women empowerment.
Is having a social message in your movies important to you?
Well, rather than the movie giving the message, I think it’s more about the audience taking the message. People watch movies for entertainment, to escape into a fantasy. But to make it a better experience, we make relatable characters and relatable situations. And because they’re grounded on these realities, social issues are bound to come up.
Agreed. And, I mean, from your filmography, Mr. Virgin is the only one that’s larger than life. Then again, our society is so invested on sex.
Exactly. Our society always sees sex as a taboo, yet everyone does it under hush hush. We could be talking about porn right now, and the guy over there will just turn around and say “chya bhai k boleko esto?!”
During the promotion of the movie, I’d always get asked when I lost my virginity, when I lost it, all that. And I’d tell it to them flat, candid and all, and they’d be shocked by the frankness. Like, if this theme was in a Hollywood movie, top notch entertainment. But in a Nepalese movie and it’s vulgar? I don’t get it, man.
Me neither. Darnest thing, huh?
Tell me about it.
Let’s talk about Saili now. I understand that you guys came out with the song first, then the music video, and then the blockbuster movie. I’m curious as to what made you guys turn the smallscale idea so large?
The whole project was done under our GH Entertainment, and from the very beginning we had the idea to turn the concept into a movie, regardless the popularity of the song.
We first got the hype from the lyrical video, and then an overwhelming response from the music video. The story in that video was a guy traveling to Qatar for work, and Saili was a woman having her life on hold for him. That story is relatable to a lot of people in our country.
In the movie, we flipped it. Since the title of the movie is Saile, we wanted to make Saili the protagonist, not Saila. So, we made her go abroad for work and not him, because there are so many Sailies going out as well.
That’s true. We don’t really see that happening in our valley, but that story is synonymous to many outside, and they make a huge bulk of our population.
Right. And I’m truly proud and happy that it’s doing so well out there. Many theaters outside were going to go out of business and this movie sort of resurrected them. I’m happier about that than the revenue it earned.
And you also produced it.
Yeah. Funny thing, apart from the writer and the director, no one knew I was the producer as well until the very end.
So what’s it like, actor v/s producer?
During the filming part and all, it’s pretty chill. I had seen that part without being a produce. But, I saw the true face of it post-production. I had to run around a lot to all the theaters to put the movie up there. Then talk to various printers regarding the posters. Then different halls have different sizes of posters. Managing the man power and looking after their payments was a whole new pain as well. So, managing all that was super hectic.
You have a new movie coming out now, Pasina. What’s that about?
When you brought up my list of films, I just realized that my movies do have a social message. Because this too has one, and contrary to Saili. It’s all about how we should stay back in our home country and work towards making it better. Spill your sweat and let the country be nourished by it. Down the same line it seems.
Do you intend to do something else with your movies?
I’m really excited to play as a villain. I had the chance to do it in Gangster Blues, but that didn’t come to be. But something like that is in the horizon.
Let’s make this the last question for now: you mentioned that you could’ve asked your dad and perhaps been bigger than what you are now. Do you regret not asking for it?
Like I said, I wanted to, and want to, make it there myself. And rather than regretting, I’m actually proud. People know my dad because of me now.
INTERVIEWD BY NIRVEEK PPJ SHAH
PHOTOGRAPHERD BY GAURAV XHOMPATE SUNUWAR
WARDROBE BY LOUIS PHILIPPE