Vihaan speculates that it all began with school performances and living in Mumbai, a city known for its famous residents.” I liked the sensation of commanding attention while performing on stage. When I was younger, I considered being an actor, dancer, singer, producer, writer, and even a stand-up comedian. But acting ultimately won. I finally realised that this is what I want to pursue when I started college. After earning my BFA in theatre, I decided that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” he says.
While auditioning for his first role was difficult, Vihaan appears to understand the process now and its outcome. “I’m blessed because Zoya Akhtar was one of the top directors that I wanted to work with,” he says about landing a role in a Zoya Akhtar production. “When I first started out, I simply made a list of people I wanted to work with. Call it manifestation, but I consider myself fortunate that she created something in which I am involved. On the first day of the shoot, she gave me a fist bump. It was sweet of her to do that.”
It wasn’t long before the newcomer rose to prominence with Mismatched, which brought with it a new set of challenges. One of them being transitioning from Season 1 to Season 2 in the midst of a pandemic. He struggles to articulate what he feels for the series as it has become an integral part of his life. “You’re at a loss for words. It’s been three years since we shot the first season in April 2019. I feel like I’ve grown as a person from Season 1 to Season 2. People were going through a difficult time during the lockdown, and we had changed a lot. So we had to return to the physicality of season one and take it to the next level,” he comments. He’s happy that he got to work with a director like Akarsh Khurana, and calls it a learning experience.
Despite the challenges, the actor remembers Mismatched as an exercise in bonding with his co-stars. As a rising star himself, he can’t help but share his enthusiasm for his colleagues. “It was really interesting to see how they talk about their work in big-budget films. I really enjoyed listening to Prajakta talk about JugJugg Jeeyo and Rohit talk about Vikram Vedha. It was so sweet when they received lovely fan merchandise. I enjoy seeing their reactions because they are wholesome and cute people. But once the camera starts rolling, we’re all just actors, and everything fades away,” he explains.
There’s something to be said for the thrill of witnessing a moment of internet virality for a show you didn’t expect to go viral. Vihaan admits he was surprised when his character received positive feedback from fans. “After Season 1, I was taken aback. The cast had not anticipated the show’s success. We simply wanted to create a fun, cute show and see how it went. The response was unexpected. I’m seeing a lot more #DimHarsh or #Darsh or whatever you want to call it online.”
It’s safe to say that performers require more than a brief moment in the spotlight. Vihaan discusses his daring ambitions, which include roles in sci-fi, period dramas, and investigative thrillers. “Before I came into this field, I really loved acting and the craft of acting, as well as stories with a soul,” he says. “And I want to do things that people will be able to watch and appreciate long after I’m gone. So I’d like to do something like Sholay. I’d love to tell similar stories.” Looking back on his experiences, Vihaan seems to have cracked the code of staying on track. “I don’t know who told me this but I repeat it to myself often - Just focus on the performance and the rest will take care of itself. It’s a nice way of reminding myself what I’m here for,” he observes.
Over the years, his biggest influences have been actors like the late Irfan Khan, Ranveer Singh, Ranbir Kapoor, among others. But he confesses he isn’t just hungry for stardom and wants to make a name for himself as a performer too. The actor excitedly talked about wanting to put his talents to the test - exactly what he needs to break the mould and steer clear of repetition. Well, it’s lights, camera, action for Vihaan Samat.