Our January cover star Vicky Kaushal on his unpredictable rise to stardom

An alchemy of talent, passion, patience...and more talent

Vicky Kaushal’s rise from late bloomer at 27, to one of the country’s most promising actors in under three years, is the alchemy of talent, passion, patience…and more talent. And now that he’s earned both critical and commercial stripes, he’s claiming the out-and-out stardom that is his due. The Uri star talks to film critic Rajeev Masand about this new—and quite often, strange—adjustment.

There isn’t a corner to sit down in Vicky Kaushal’s hotel room. The 30-year-old actor is in a suburban Mumbai five-star, promoting his upcoming movie, Uri; various wardrobe options that he’ll slip in and out of during the day are carefully laid out across the bed. His make-up guy has set up shop in the living room area, so it’s a tough squeeze. Somehow, Vicky finds a spot on the bed after nudging multiple pairs of Gucci loafers and a ridiculously expensive-looking suit to the edge. I have to fend for myself. I find a chair, and within minutes we’re in business.

Vicky Kaushal is a late bloomer. He landed his first starring role at the age of 27, but it’s pretty clear he’s making up for lost time. In 2018 alone, he made five movies (two for Netflix), and was especially good at playing Sanjay Dutt’s faithful best friend Kamli in Rajkumar Hirani’s Sanju, and as a wastrel musician who understands the meaning of love only when he’s lost it, in Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyaan.

In three years, he’s gone from rank newcomer to one of Bollywood’s most promising actors. You could put it down to the unmistakable vulnerability in his eyes that comes from “feeling” and “living” his parts; he hasn’t got to that place where he “fakes it” like so many of his peers. You knew, when he reduced you to a puddle the moment he uttered those words in his debut film Masaan (2015)— “Yeh dukh kaahe khatam nahin hota [Why doesn’t this sorrow end]”—that a star was born. Here are some excerpts from our chat:

Rajeev Masand: What has surprised you the most about becoming famous?

Vicky Kaushal: I never knew that when you get into your car and decide where to go, there’ll still be paparazzi when you get to your destination. I later found out that they’ve got all our car numbers down, and they track our movements. I still sometimes go to malls and restaurants because it hasn’t sunken in that I will be spotted and asked for pictures. That still surprises me. I get that young students who go to the cinema might recognise me, but when the security guard at the airport goes: “Sir, Uri ka trailer dekha [saw the trailer for Uri],” that throws me off.

Excerpted from ELLE India's January cover story. To read the full story, subscribe to the print edition here or download the digital edition here.

Photographs: Ashish Shah
Styling: Rahul Vijay
Art Direction: Mrudul Pathak Kundu
Hair And Make-Up: Akgun Manisali/Inega;
Assisted By: Akshita Singh, Pujarini Ghosh, Dhvani Jhaveri, Pallak Shah (Styling);
Location Courtesy: Amanbagh, Jaipur District, India