You may know Avinash Tiwary as Chandan Mahto or Dara Kadri. But before he took on the world of OTT as a brute villain, he starred alongside Amitabh Bachchan in a TV show called Yudh on Sony.
This 2014 show was Big B’s debut fictional show on the screen and it was created by none other than Anurag Kashyap. The story revolves around Yudhisthir Sikarwar, a mining tycoon from Uttar Pradesh, who gets diagnosed with Huntington’s disease and leaves him with only a few years to leave. This series also featured stalwarts from the industry like Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Kay Kay Menon, as well as Avinash Tiwary, who was making his acting debut.
Tiwary played the role of Advocate Ajatshatru, a character who is believed to be good, but who’s true colours are revealed to the world as the show progresses. Having just returned from being an actor-in-training at the New York Film Academy, Avinash was still learning the ropes and received some unexpected help and knowledge from one of the biggest names of Indian cinema.
Recently, we caught up with the 38-year-old to talk about his journey so far, and he shared some anecdotes of what it was like to be on set with Amitabh Bachchan and listen to his stories. From revealing two lesser-known truths about Big B’s iconic style to getting safety instructions on how to fire a gun, Tiwary was lucky enough to get notes from Bollywood’s biggest star. Here’s an excerpt from our exclusive chat:
HELLO!: “Let’s talk about Yudh. You were working with the biggest names in the industry like Mr Amitabh Bachchan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Kashyap behind the camera. What was that experience like?”
Avinash Tiwary: “Right, so I was playing his daughter’s fiancé. I entered the show in the fourth or fifth episode and by the 20th, the show ended. From the 17th onwards, I come out in the open as the antagonist of the show. I still remember reading the first, few sets of scenes I had to film with Mr Bachchan. I was not sleeping at all because I was shivering thinking, ‘How will I say this to Amitabh Bachchan?’ I remember, my first line was, ‘Isse umar mein upar chadh toh paoge? (will you be able to climb up, given your age?)’ or something like that. And I’m like, ‘I can’t say that to him! There’s no way! People will kill me! My own family members will kill me!’ But when you’re young, there’s also that confidence to say I can do this. So, I went for it and we got what we needed.
But, you know, I had a couple of very beautiful experiences with him while filming for Yudh. I remember him sharing so many stories from his past. One day, I inquired about the injury on his hand and he said, ‘Arre, I burnt my hand’. So, I asked him, ‘Where, Sir? What happened?’ Then he turned to me and gave me a look like ‘you don’t know?’ And then he said, ‘In Sharabi, my hand was always in my pocket and in Inquilaab, I covered it with a handkerchief! I was actually hiding my hand because it was burnt (while lighting firecrackers during Diwali). Aur tum log isko style bolta hai (And you guys call this my style)!!’
Another time, he told me about how he had surgery on his shoulders, which made one of his shoulders drop. And he was like, ‘Aur tum log isko style bolta hai (And you guys call this my style)!!’ And till today, people use those postures to do impressions of him, I didn’t know why until then! I was also impressed by the fact that he hadn’t done it particularly for it to be a style, eventually, it became one.
It was a great learning: to know that it’s not like, ‘If I do this, it will happen’. I also learn from him that when light falls on you, you shine if you’re a diamond. But diamonds don’t shine without the light falling on you. And many people have their chance in the light, but never manage to shine because they’re not diamonds.
But that being said… I don’t know if this can go out in public (laughs). I really don’t know if these things are supposed to be said, but this is my personal experience, so I can definitely say it.
Another time, I was prepping for an action sequence that was going to have me firing a gun in the scene. I had my gun in my hand and I was practising some stances when Amitabh Bachchan walked into the room. He saw me holding the gun, walked straight towards me and then asked, ‘Have you been given security instructions?’
I said, ‘Security instructions for what?’ So, he then asked, ‘Do you know how to fire a gun?’ I just froze, and he probably saw me clamming up, so he decided to list out a few pointers to keep in handy. ‘Don’t point it at me directly, never point it at the actor. Point it just away from his neck and above his shoulder.’ This was so that the actors remain unharmed even if the gun goes off unexpectedly.
His next pointer for safety with guns was that I should always be aware that the pellets from the gun come out at 90 degrees, and that I should be careful of not hurting myself. Until then, I hadn’t even thought about that!
To having learnt that from him — I’m a lucky guy.”