“I was a bit of a wild child. I didn’t have my parents around and was brought up by my orthodox grandparents. I wasn’t an easy kid to deal with,” reminisces Prateik Babbar. It is a general consensus that ‘star kids’ have it easy. But for Prateik, it has been a difficult journey. He has now understood the importance of hard work and study.
“There are times when I have got the cold shoulder from casting directors and outright rejects. But you need to keep at it. Make those calls yourself, talk to people and study, study and study. There are no two ways. If you really love something that much and want it, all these things just don’t matter,” believes Prateik.
Prateik believes he got into acting only because of his love for the profession. He says there are so many nuances and so much different details involved with each representation of a character.
Breaking the mould
Prateik says you need to research, understand the character and discuss it with the director. It is a collaborative effort. The idea that the director has for a character can be different or similar from what you envision. So acting, Prateik believes, is a two-way street.
Over the years, Prateik has essayed various roles like Munna in Dhobi Ghat, Lawrence ‘Lorry’ Gomes in Dum Maaro Dum, Sushant Seth in Aarakshan, Michael Pinto in My Friend Pinto, Sachin Kulkarni in Ekk Deewana Tha, Rahul Mishra in Issaq. He took a break from acting and it was a dark phase in his life.
The journey into understanding his true calling is mixed with different emotions. It meant reinventing and redefining himself, which began 10 years ago. It began at Genesis, where he had interned and worked with Prahlad Kakar and Mitali Kakar. Calling them his family, Prateik adds that the methods of disciplining that Prahlad used were different and effective.
“I think I can say that I have been a father to Prateik,” says Prahlad. It was during Prateik's stint at Genesis that he understood the value of time, work ethics and respecting people. He adds that you were given responsibilities that you were expected to complete no matter what. Being able to articulate what you want, coming up with your own ideas, dreaming big, thinking new things were some of the life skills Prateik learnt at Genesis.
Re-learning and understanding respect
Being a difficult personality, Prateik thinks Prahlad had to use every possible rule in his book to train him. Citing an incident, Prateik says, once he went late to the set and found everyone was waiting for him.
“There was pin-drop silence and everyone was waiting. Prahlad called me to him and slapped me and asked me to go home. It wasn’t about how he treated it, it was why he did it. He told me, ‘kid you need to be straightened out and I am going to straighten you out’. He asked me to pack my bags and get to his home the same evening. It was about respecting people’s time and the work. It was about fulfilling your responsibility. Even if it’s the smallest thing like picking up a costume.”
Today, he is all set to work again with Prahlad and Mitali in their venture – PKSB. Whether it is work ethics, respecting time or even loving your work, Prateik also believes that there is a lot that younger actors can learn and improve in the school.
Prateik has learnt to respect the process and the study that goes behind acting. And has also learnt to take rejection and understood that he truly loves acting and nothing else matters.
After Issaq, Prateik essayed the role of Udai in Umrika and is simply looking ahead. For him, the future is about looking at the art house cinema kind of genre. Prateik says that acting is about getting into the space and making the character relatable.
“Acting comes in with a lot of research, character sketches, instinct and imagination. You if you can add your study and passion to it, then I guess there’s no stopping you,” explains Prateik