It took me 15 years to play a lead role: actor Avinash Tiwary

In a recent conversation with YS Weekender, Bollywood actor Avinash Tiwary traces his journey from wanting to do a PhD in Physics to signing a deal with Balaji Motion Pictures.

Hindi film industry actor Avinash Tiwary rose to fame with Imtiaz Ali directorial Laila Majnu. More recently, he appeared in the Netflix production Bulbbul, and The Girl On The Train.

In a conversation with YS Weekender, Avinash says, “It took me 15 years to get an opportunity to play a lead in a film.” 

Avinash Tiwary


Born in Bihar, Avinash moved to Mumbai with his parents when he was just seven years old. He grew up wanting to do a PhD in Physics. “For some reason, I took up engineering. And while doing my engineering, I decided to be an actor,” he says. 

In his first year of engineering, Avinash stayed in a hostel, away from his family. “It gave me the space and time to ask myself difficult questions,” he explains. However, Avinash realised that there were no reasons for him to jump into acting, and decided to train himself first. 

Avinash dropped out of Thakur College of Engineering and Technology in the first year itself and joined Barry John Acting Studio while pursuing theatre, and later went to New York Film Academy.

“My father told me, ‘Always remember your limitations and be responsible for everything that happens’...and that has shaped my life,” he adds. 

While Avinash did take some time to convince his parents, he says, “No one mentioned to me that you do not put your responsibilities at stake for your dream.”

Starting slow 

Avinash does not seem to have any ‘turning point’ in his career. “I believe it has been a lateral straight walk, upwards – I would like to believe,” he quips. 

He returned to India from New York at the end of 2006, and took up roles in shows on DD National by the end of 2007. Avinash was part of top TRP shows including Ek Aangan Ke Ho Gaye Do and Bikhri Aas Nikhri Preet

“As it gave good money, I kind of became laid back with those shows,” Avinash recalls. 

In 2014, Avinash worked alongside Amitabh Bachchan in the television series Yudh. He made his Bollywood debut with Tu Hai Mera Sunday in 2016. “I relate with Rashid (his character from Tu Hai Mera Sunday) the most...I see a lot of my friends in him,” Avinash adds. 

His next big gig came with Laila Majnu. In 2015, Avinash met director Sajid Ali and had to undergo 21 tests between 2015 and 2017 to be finally selected for the role of Majnu. The actor underwent a major physical transformation, losing 12 kgs over 17 days.  

However, the film was shelved and ultimately released in September 2018. 

Avinash Tiwary

Roles big and small 

Avinash says his most challenging role has been his recent project The Girl On The Train. “I am still trying to understand the character and why he does what he does,” he explains. However, the role he most relates to is that of Satya’s from director Avita Dutt’s thriller film Bulbbul

“I do not select films for the scripts or characters but for the whole film, including the directors, producers, and actors involved. The script is the genesis but not the only thing I look for before selecting a film,” Avinash says. 

In an era of cinema versus OTT, Avinash says he enjoys the silver screen for the feeling of community viewing and the joy that comes from watching films on the big screen.

“OTTs have added shelf-life of films, but there is no greater joy for an artist than knowing that a person takes out time to watch you on the screen,” he adds. 

At present, Avinash has signed a three-film deal with Balaji Motion Pictures – the first of which was The Girl on The Train.

“It doesn't matter where you are today, it matters where you are at the end of the game,” Avinash signs off. 

Edited by Kanishk Singh