It is time to applaud Applause Entertainment. Take a bow, you Scamsters! The team of 2020’s Harshad Mehta bio-series Scam 1992 now has even more reason to be proud. They have just achieved what no other series or television show from India has ever achieved. The highly-rated IMDb has curated a list of the most popular webseries and television serials of all times. The list which contains 163 titles from across the world has only one Indian entry. Applause Entertainment’s Scam 1992:Harshad Mehta Story directed by Hansal Mehta has made it into the coveted list as one of the most-watched series from across the world.
Pratik Gandhi who played the eponymous role said, “We knew we were doing a sincere job of it. But we could never guess it would go this far. My biggest reason for accepting the role of Harshad Mehta was director Hansal Mehta. My producers Applause Entertainment and Sameer Nair were godsent. I love playing real-life characters. I’ve played quite a number of them on stage including Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. It’s always a challenge to portray a real-life character especially one as much in the public domain as Harshad Mehta.”
There were lots of layers to Harshad Mehta’s character which Pratik got attracted to. “I like playing characters with complex human traits. Also, this is the biggest project that I’ve done in my life. All these reasons were more than enough incentive to do the project.”
Pratik says he did a lot of research on Harshad Mehta. “I was provided with a lot of material. I also did my own research. There were some videos of Harshad that I studied. There is also an informative interview of Harshad with legendary journalist Pritish Nandy. The script in itself provided a detailed document on the character. All this, plus multiple discussions with the writers and directors helped me a lot.”
Pratik undertook a whole regime of physical preparation to play Harshad. “When I first met director Hansal Mehta he told me I’m too lean and thin to play Harshad Mehta. I had to gain 18 kilos before we started shooting. I gorged on all the Gujarati goodies that I earlier avoided. By the time we started shooting, I had a huge belly and a lot of fat on my face. And of course the trademark Harshad Mehta mustache.”
He took a conscious decision to not look like Harshad. “Looking like the real-life character certainly makes the actor’s job easier especially when it is someone as well-known as Harshad Mehta. He loved being in the limelight. One of his photographs with his Lexus is still popular. While making the series on Harshad we took a conscious decision that I won’t try to look like the real Harshad. Rather I’d focus on his behaviour, attitude, and personality, be it his helplessness initially, confidence, then over-confidence to the extent of letting his arrogance and ego get the better of his judgment. Hansal was clear about not caricaturing Harshad, but rather imbibing his characteristics into my personality.”
Being a Gujarati helped Pratik understand Harshad better. “It helped me to understand his thought process, his dreams, a knack for understanding money matters, the entrepreneurial spirit. And that determination to be self-employed. That’s a Gujarati trait. Though I must confess that I come from a family of educationists. No one in my family is an entrepreneur.”