Interview With Actor Hemwant Tiwari, “Medinah”

By Ruth on October 30, 2017 in Interview, movie, television
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Because of my devotion to Rick Ravanello and his various works, I often find other industry professionals of whom I was not previously aware. The joy of discovery is something that is always electrifying, and so today I bring you an interview with the very first Indian actor I’ve ever had the privilege of interviewing–Hemwant Tiwari. He will soon be featured alongside Eric Roberts, Natasha Henstridge, and, of course, my friend, Rick, in the inaugural international sci-fi series, Medinah.

 

RH: Why did you become an actor?
HT: In the earlier stages of my life, it was something I was attracted to. Then it started running across my mind all the time and I was doing everything to work towards it. Then came a phase when I knew that this is really what I wanted to do and I left everything for it. Finally, when I stepped into it, I knew that there was nothing else I could do. I have everything it takes to become an actor.
Please tell us a little about your journey (and struggles if you would like) to become an actor. 
My journey till now has been very interesting. When I came to Mumbai in 2007, I didn’t know anyone; I didn’t have anyone here. The only thing I had was a dream. I think that’s enough if you are adamant. Also, I didn’t think of anything else as my career, so I didn’t have a backup plan. I think that works as you have no option but to work towards your only plan.
After coming to Mumbai, the first thing I did was my acting course. I was teaching yoga to survive. Meanwhile, I was looking for work. I remember knocking on every door and meeting all the casting directors, producers and also the directors. I have had so many rejections that I have forgotten the count. I did so many auditions in the hopes that I would get more chances, but still, no roles would come my way. I used to keep a bag which had a t-shirt in it that I would take with me when I left my house in the morning. I used to be the first one at almost every audition. Friends used to call me to ask me to please write their names on the list.

There is more to this journey, but we can discuss that in the next interview.

What can you tell us about your first professional (paid) job as an actor? How did you get the role and what was your experience like playing that role?

While doing all these auditions, I finally decided to audition for a play. After that, I started doing plays in the theatre and that was my first paid job as an actor. It was definitely a joyous feeling when you get your first cheque. The character that I played was a guy who used to dress up like ladies of the night to earn money and I remember waxing my body for that role. It was memorable.

If remember correctly, I think I actually met a couple of these people to prepare for my role. This is one of the things I love about our work–portraying all sorts of different characters in one lifetime. I did many plays and advertisements after that.
Please tell us a little about your role in Life Is Beautiful.  Has this film been in any film festivals yet or is it scheduled to be?
Life Is Beautiful happened while I was doing one of the plays. The director, Bobby {Pushkarna}, had seen my plays, and one day, he told me about the idea of Life Is Beautiful and I loved it. After that, the director sat with his wife, Kavita {Pushkarna}, who is the writer and producer of the film, and wrote the script. Finally, Bobby told me that he wanted to cast me and that’s the story of me coming on board and playing the protagonist in that. It was screened at the Court Metrage, the short film corner of the 66th edition of Cannes Film Festival (May 16-26).

The film is about how Mumbai’s colourful life transforms the protagonist (Hemwant Tiwari) from a cold and negative person to a positive and self-sacrificing human being. It makes him realise that life is all about the choices that one makes.

Please tell us about Salaam and your work in writing, directing and acting in that. What did you enjoy about working on that and what did you find challenging? Any news on film festival appearances with this film?

Salaam is about honour killing. It is very close to my heart.  Actually, while I was a struggling artist, I was writing as well. One of my school friends told me that during our school days, I had written poems for her and that motivated me to write. Somewhere, I had this feeling that I can write, but I was not sure about how good I would be. But talking to this friend inspired me to write, and after that, I wrote SALAAM, my first short film directed and acted by me. I wanted to make a feature film of it, but one of my friends liked it so much that he wanted to produce it. So we made the short film.
Even though I hadn’t done any course in film direction like I had for acting, I still know exactly what I needed in every frame. And especially when you have written it, it becomes easier. I loved every stage of it and my team supported me very well. In fact, it was only because of my fabulous team that I could make something like Salaam that was loved later on by everyone. No, I am not sending it to any festivals. We just wanted to make it.
Every bit of making the short film was challenging, especially finding the locations. The first day when I sat with my team, I thought, “Am I going to pull this off?” But with that kind of team, anyone can make anything.
Medinah is your first international series. How did you get involved with this production?
Yes, with Medinah being the first international series for me, it is always going to be special in every sense. Videos were sent from India to the creator of the show, Ahmed Al Baker, out of which he selected two, and finally out of these two, I was finalised. It’s been a pleasurable journey all along the way. God is great.
Guess which short film he watched to select me in this.
Any guesses???
It was SALAAM!
While I know you cannot tell us much, what can you tell us about your character and the show as a whole?
The team of Medinah from crew to actors are some of the finest people I have met, and they all have amazing hearts.
I play the character of a bus driver who is from India and has gone to Qatar to earn some money so that he can do something for his family back home in India. He is very calm and composed and he takes the lead when it is necessary. It is all about survival of a few people who have gotten stuck in the desert somewhere while another bunch of people are trying to find out what went wrong with the rocket launch that crashed.

Preparing for this character was not that hard as the directors and the creator of the show knew what they wanted, and in real life, it matches my story very well. It was an awesome experience to work with Wayne Rose and Jason Bourque as they both are so good. They both listen to you carefully and incorporate your ideas as well, which makes our work easier.

Any special moments you would like to share on the filming of Medinah? What were your interactions like with the cast and crew?
Every moment spent for Medinah was magical.

Yes, it was too hot during filming, but the amazing crew did everything possible to make it a cooler experience. It was a mess sometimes, but production was always on their toes to take care of it. Snakes and big lizards were common in the desert. There was this guy who used to look out for them; unlike me, he had no phobia of reptiles. I have phobia of these creatures, but being adventurous, I I love to see these kind of things, and I was with him when he used to go out looking for them. It was fun.

Eric {Roberts} is such a cool guy; we had some amazing conversations. Once he told me the story of how he was cast for the first time, which was definitely inspiring and I was listening to him very quietly. He has also told me that he would come and promote my feature film when it releases. I thought he was joking, but when he brought it up a couple of times, I knew he was serious. It was so kind of him to say these motivating words of encouragement. He is awesome.

Natasha {Henstridge} is magical. Whenever she enters a gathering, she spreads her “Natashaness” everywhere. She is witty and comes up with some amazing one-liners. One day, when I was writing in my room, the phone rang and it was Natasha. She asked, “What are you doing?” I replied, “Just writing.” She asked me to come to the beach, and when I went, she said, “Tell me your story.” That’s Natasha for you. She takes an interest in everyone, and that’s what makes her unique.

Similarly, I had some amazing interactions with everyone. Rick Ravanello, Jerome Ro Brooks, and all the guys are such amazing souls. All the girls–Becca Buckalew, Kit Reeve, Najarra Townsend, Rahma Riyad–are sweethearts. And all the Qatari people have such big hearts that I could write a book on their special traits. They all were so fine

Why do you believe audiences will love Medinah? What do you think makes this show special and unique?
No doubt it has been shot beautifully and the story is definitely intriguing with so many twists and turns apart from the amazing performances from my co-actors. It is also the first ever sci-fi series from the Arab world, which shows the talent that’s hidden in this part of the world. All these things make Medinah special and unique. So many energies from more than seventeen nations have worked on this. With all the hard work, love and passion we have put into this, I am sure audiences will love it. Also, I saw the premiere and I loved it even though I was watching it as a critic. Audiences have a treat in store for them.
Did you attend the recent Comic-Con in San Diego? If so, how was that experience? 
Yes, I did attend the San Diego event and it was overwhelming to see the grand response of almost 4k people. The biggest room at the Comic-Con was jampacked and they were clapping and whistling after we finished the premiere, which was a first time for me. It gave me goosebumps and after that interaction with the same crowd was unreal.  Before this event, the max group I had ever performed for was 2k people. This was grand!
I’m a big fan of Superman when it comes to comics, and I had the chance to appear in a Comic-Con that happened in New Delhi and Mumbai in India, but regrettably, I missed that opportunity. But the universe was planning the biggest one for me. Will Smith, Gal Godot, Colin Firth, Channing Tatum, and Halle Berry were there. I couldn’t believe all this.
The best part was appearing for all the interviews. I love cameras and their flashes. God is great.
Any other upcoming works or projects that you would like to mention? 
My feature film AFTER THE LAST LECTURE by the talented writer/director Chetan Singh which is about college campus politics is almost ready. I play the protagonist, and my part is all done now. It will release soon. I will keep you updated. I’m also reading two scripts. So soon you will get some big news from me.

While I have never been to India, I have been to the Middle East (but that’s another story), and so the very idea that Medinah was shot in the Middle East and will hopefully soon be available to international audiences is exhilarating. And now knowing that the skilled, enthusiastic, steadfast Hemwant is an integral part of this production enlivens me even more. While this interview has only been a brief introduction to him and his career, I have no doubt his experiences as an actor will continue to be more substantial and influential in the weeks, months, and years to come. It is undeniable that Humant is not easily deterred from the career he has chosen for himself, and in spite of any obstacles that attempt to obstruct his way, he has persevered with all of his heart, soul, and mind. I feel as though I have been anticipating this new show of his forever now, but I know that the wait will be well worth it once we viewers have the opportunity to savor it in its entirety. I am quite impressed with Humwant’s positive spirit and undaunted outlook as he has cultivated this career in acting, and I can only hope and pray that the fruits of his labor will presently be available for all of us to enjoy around the world. In the meantime, I invite everyone to check out all of Hemwant’s links below and consider following him on social media where applicable. While he may be reckoned a virtual unknown at this point in his life, no doubt his hard work and skillset will one day yield amazing rewards for him both professionally as well as personally.

FOLLOW HEMWANT

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IMDB

 

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth

43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl
Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA
Entertainment Writer
Available For Interviews and Reviews
Substitute Teacher

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