Introducing Siddhant Chaturvedi—Gully Boy’s MC Sher
The 25-year-old actor on his big break and a four-year-long struggle
Gully Boy’s release marks the end of a long wait for Siddhant Chaturvedi. The 25-year-old actor, who plays rapper MC Sher in Zoya Akhtar’s latest, finished shooting for it last April, and then did nothing at all. “All this time, I’ve just been looking outside my window, waiting for the film to release and people to recognise my work,” he said, when we interviewed Chaturvedi—on the cusp of an exciting, new chapter in his life—in January.
Originally from Nagwa, Ballia in Uttar Pradesh, Chaturvedi moved to Mumbai with his family—his father is a chartered accountant, his mother is a homemaker and his younger brother is still in school—where he attended Mithibai College. Following in his father’s footsteps, he was pursuing a career in chartered accountancy at the time but, he says, “I was doing a lot of theatre as well because that was my passion. I was kind of balancing the two. Theatre was my escape; I used to go and just rehearse, do lines, write, co-write. Things were good, but I had never dreamed of being an actor because I come from a regular middle-class family.”
‘Regular’ began to dawn on the actor when he started his articleship, a 3-year practical training phase that accountants are supposed to complete. “I did that for four or five months, before I realised I couldn’t do it any longer. I was suffocating; I hadn’t met my theatre friends, I was missing the stage, missing performing. One day, I broke down and told my dad I wanted some time off.” This is when Chaturvedi, still in his final year of college, decided to apply for the Bombay Times Fresh Face talent hunt. “By this time, I realised I had become a recluse. My confidence was gone, the stage inhibitions were back. I started watching films again, dancing, going back to writing plays, singing and playing the guitar,” Chaturvedi, on how he began prepping for the nation-wide competition; in 2012, he won it.
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Having roused his dormant passion for performance, he was now less interested in balance sheets than ever before. So, Chaturvedi did what every aspiring actor in Mumbai does—struggle. He went for audition after audition, together with a few of his friends, joined WhatsApp casting groups and, most importantly, worked on himself. “I never wanted anyone to have the opportunity to say “Oh, isko yeh nahi aata,” (“He doesn’t know how to do this”), so I learned everything. I can dance, play the guitar, I have trained in martial arts like taekwondo, I can sing,” he says. It is ironic that his first taste of success as an actor was for his convincing performance as Prashant, a shy fast-bowler, on Amazon Prime’s web series Inside Edge. “I’m not a cricketer, I don’t like cricket, I never watch cricket, but I was bowling at 120km/h. You can’t fake that.”
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This is perhaps what is most impressive about the actor—there’s seemingly nothing he can’t do. Take rapping, for instance. He says, “I wasn’t very closely connected to the world of rap, my playlist features Kishore Kumar, Mohammad Rafi, and maybe some rock. But rapping? Samaj hi nahi aata tha.” Yet, for his audition for Gully Boy, he wrote and performed an original rap song. A big risk, this turned out to be the very reason he bagged the role. Clearly, Siddhant Chaturvedi thrives when he’s challenged and, transforming into MC Sher for this film, may have been his biggest (and most successful) one yet.
Now that the first reviews for Gully Boy are in, here’s what critics have said about Chaturvedi’s performance:
“Siddhant Chaturvedi in a standout debut as Murad’s new found friend MC Sher…” reports The Hindu.
“The knockout punches come from MC Sher. With a name that means both tiger and poem, this champ is played by Siddhant Chaturvedi with a natural, easy ferocity. It’s the film’s top performance,” reads The Hindustan Times’s review.
“Newcomer Siddhant Chaturvedi (so splendid as MC Sher, the rapper who mentors the hero through his early phase of diffidence, that he oftentimes comes excitingly close to upstaging Ranveer)…” NDTV notes.
Clearly, the nine-month-long wait was worth it; here’s looking at Siddhant Chaturvedi.
Photograph: Neha Chandrakant
Styling: Akshita Singh
Makeup: Clover Wootton/Anima Creatives
Hair: Gautam Arora/BBlunt