DHAIRYA KARWA was working as a data analyst when the acting bug bit him so hard that he quit his 9-to-5 job and landed up in Mumbai.
After a few successful modelling assignments, he notched up his first role in the critically and commercially successful film Uri: The Surgical Strike (2019).
The exciting newcomer has since played prominent parts in noteworthy films, including 83 (2021) and Gehraiyaan (2022). He was most recently seen in the gritty Hotstar movie, Apurva (2023).
Eastern Eye recently chatted with the gifted actor to discuss his journey from being an outsider to landing high-profile films. He also shared details about his upcoming crime series Gyaarah
Gyaarah, produced by the Oscar-winning Guneet Monga and Karan Johar.
How was 2023 for you professionally?
It was an exciting year and, at the same time, it asked for a lot of patience. It started off on a great note, with a series co-produced by Dharma Productions. It’s a crime fiction thriller and has the most challenging part for me to date. The industry requires patience. There will be days when you are working and then there will be days when you will have to just sit down.
You received a good response for your Hotstar film, Apurva.
Oh, I totally forgot about that. Yes, there have been some great responses. The film got good reviews and has been watched by many. So, overall, 2023 has been a mix of both. You shoot, something is released, you work on yourself and wait it out for the right part to come along.
What do you expect from 2024?
First, the year is going to start with my next release. I hope that it’s received really well and is followed by quality work. I want to do really good work and just keep growing in my career. One step at a time. Just doing incredible work. And more recognition won’t hurt.
Tell us more about the project you are talking about.
It’s called Gyaarah Gyaarah. It’s a web series, a crime investigative thriller with an element of sci-fi. The crime thriller is a really popular genre in the Indian entertainment space. However, the sci-fi element separates Gyaarah Gyaarah from everything that’s out there and gives it an edge.
Tell us about your role in the series?
I play a cop. I cannot reveal much at this point. It is helmed by Umesh Bisht. And Oscar-winning Guneet Monga is producing it, along with Karan Johar. So, again, what else do you want? We have got some great people backing the project, a great director helming it and it’s a great part for me, so it checks all the boxes. I’m really excited about that. It’s going to come on ZEE5 Global.
You worked as a data analyst in Gurugram, north India, before you moved to Mumbai. Tell us, what made you do that?
I think it was really spontaneous. After school, I enrolled in SRCC (Shri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi) and pursued my BCom Honours. Initially, I planned to secure a campus placement, work for a couple of years and then do my GMAT. However, I also felt that the conventional 9-to-5 job was not for me. People in my circle would often encourage me, saying, ‘Hey, you could easily pursue modelling.’
Did you also think the same?
Absolutely. I used to look at my pictures and think, ‘Yeah, this could be me.’ I thought, why not give it a shot because I didn’t want to live with any regrets later on. So, I tried my hand at modelling and it worked out well. That led me to move to Mumbai to explore if this could be a serious pursuit and to see what the city had to offer me.
How was it moving to a city which attracts talents from all across India and abroad?
When I arrived in Mumbai, I had an agency that would send me for auditions, a mix of modelling and ad auditions. It was during this time that I was introduced to acting. Mumbai has this infectious energy and the acting bug really grew on me. That’s how I discovered acting and from just auditioning, I decided to continue with it. I realised that all I needed to do was commit and give it some time, considering I didn’t have any professional acting background or had not completed a course.
How did your parents react when you told them you were quitting your 9-to-5 job?
One would think after watching so many movies that such a conversation was going to be super-dramatic. Somebody is going to get really angry. But it was very contrary to that. They were very understanding and supported me.
That’s why the transition was so easy. I took that leap of faith because my family has my back. I moved in an instant to Mumbai; otherwise, that wouldn’t have been possible.
Your debut film, Uri: The Surgical Strike, completed five years on January 11. What are your thoughts?
It’s a very important movie in my filmography. It allowed me to get a foot in the industry. You have to start somewhere when you don’t come from any (film) background. And I got a really good platform to start with. I am really grateful that I had that opportunity and that the project happened.
How did you bag the film?
The irony is that you just keep auditioning. You audition and forget. Of course, you are hopeful, as well. Initially, when I started auditioning, there were mostly ad auditions. One fine day, I got a call from a casting assistant I had never auditioned for. He said, ‘There is a part, come in tomorrow for an audition’. I was all prepped to step out when he called and said, ‘Wear a turban when you come’.
What happened next?
I thought I would cook up an excuse as it was really short notice. But then things fell in place and the universe aligned everything. I used to live right next to a gurdwara. I went there and they were kind enough to lend me a turban and tie it for me. I went there, gave my audition and two days later, I got the film.
You also appeared in Made In Heaven the same year. Which one did you bag first?
Made In Heaven was in 2017, and I was offered Uri… in April-March in the very same year. It so happened that Uri… was released first, but my first part was in Made In Heaven.
Apart from Gyaarah Gyaarah, are there any other upcoming projects in the works for you?
I have been reading a lot of scripts. I am really waiting for the right part to come along.