I’ve been following him on Instagram forever and the minute I found out he was doing a new show on television, I knew I wanted an interview. On messaging his agent, I promptly received an email confirming the same. And I couldn’t be more glad. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed at how well-read and well-informed he was, despite his busy schedule. As cliched as that sounds, here’s Meiyang Chang unplugged, talking to me about his new show, his opinion on social media and his future plans..
> 1. Firstly I’d like to congratulate you on your emphatic ramp walk at the CPAA fashion show. Since when have you identified with social causes?
> Thank you Akash. The ramp walk for CPAA is the latest activity in an ongoing support for the association & its’ beneficiaries since 2008. I’ve also run the Mumbai marathon for charity, amongst other things. However, I’ve had a calling for social causes since my college days when we’d do free Dental Check-Ups & Awareness Drives. I’ve supported Greenpeace, CRY & HelpAge India for as long as I remember because I relate to the causes associated with them.
2. Tell me about your new show which seems very intriguing based on the promos. Is it crime? Is it romance?
> “Pyaar Tuney Kya Kiya” on Zing is crime in romance! The tagline for the show is “Jab Pyaar Hadh Se Guzar Jaaye” (when crime crosses all limits) & it’s interesting to narrate stories where the lines between right or wrong are blurred, all in a flush of passion. This is my first attempt at this genre & I love novelty in any form. Each new adventure has its’ own perks & challenges, and PTKK is one such adventure.
> 3. Have you ever had any unpleasant experiences in love? Anything like the stories your show will display?
> If you mean resorting to crime or physical violence, then fortunately not. I’m too much of a Buddhist to do that. I have felt hounded though, which has led to hiding or running away from my girlfriend in college. In hindsight, it seems so silly & juvenile but that’s what love, or the lack of it, can do to you. PTKK has a steady dose of the extremes that love can go to, and some of it is pretty ugly.
> 4. Any advice for people who are in online relationships?
> I don’t understand online relationships, just as I don’t understand online friendships. Irrespective of the advances in technology, I cannot relate to a person unless I’ve personally met them & spent time with them. The personal touch is imperative for me. We may share a great online rapport with people, but could have nothing to talk about in real life. That just doesn’t work for me.
To each their own, though. If you’re in an online relationship, great for you. Just don’t overreach & commit to something without verifying who that person is, and without knowing them personally. Be very careful if you don’t know them before hand & if you’re to meet them, take every possible precaution.
Don’t be paranoid. Chances are that you might hit it off & meet your soulmate there. Better safe than sorry, though. And if everything goes well, ditch the virtual world and spend dollops of time together in the real one.
> 5. You did a very unconventional movie “Badmash Company”. Regardless to say, we’d like to see you in more. Do you think Indian movies are coming into their own and breaking away from stereotypes?
> On the contrary, Badmaash Company was every bit your regular masala Bollywood potboiler. I’d say casting an oriental actor instead of the conventional faces was breaking away from stereotype & a laudable risk taken by my director Parmeet Sethi & Yash Raj Films. The fourth friend could’ve been anyone but they chose me. I commend & thank them for their belief and would like to think that the next Golden Age of cinema has arrived when it comes to unconventional choices.
Having said that, films as varied as Kahaani, Queen, Paan Singh Tomar, Gangs of Wasseypur, 3 Idiots, Khosla Ka Ghosla, Dev-D & the like are evidence that audiences as well as the makers have truly woken up to a changing taste & sensibility, and I as an actor and an audience, am impressed. The emergence of parallel & independent cinema as an equally accessible & enjoyable medium is another quantum leap for Indian cinema. My next film is one such project, due next year and I’m very excited about how mainstream-yet-different it is in that context and I see myself as part of more exciting projects.
> 6. Any views on abusive relationships?
> No one deserves to be in one, and the abuser is obviously sadistic & twisted in the head to subject their partner to such distress. An example needs to be set to put the abusers in their right place & to discourage similar incidents. The abusee also needs to stand up for their rights & testify. And no matter how much one might love their partner, an abusive relationship needs to be put to an end at the earliest. Life is too short to be lived with the wrong people.
> 7. A very generalised question. Do you think the masses and common people can actually make a difference to the society or are they mere pawns?
> Yes, we can. We may genuinely be puppets in the hands of the overarching authorities or social norms but education & awareness can set us free. The recent anti-corruption movement or the RTI Act haven’t eliminated governmental vices but it has taught the common man that that there are recourses that empower us, if we stand together as a team. Everything starts with one, but as a team the masses are a force to reckon with. Decades of wrongdoing would have to be undone to see some positive results in the near future but it is well within the realm of possibility. This applies both to the faults within the government as well as the society, and the beautiful bit is that most of it can be achieved amiably.
> 8. Do you believe in social media as a medium for people to voice their opinions?
> That’s a very tricky question. We’ve all seen the good that social media is capable of; be it building a revolution, providing real time information, sharing your work or reaching out to the world. However, with the increasing number of trolls (paid or otherwise), a misguided interpretation of the freedom of speech & general intolerance to debate make it extremely difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. More often than not, it becomes “my way or the highway”. Then again, many indulge in senseless banter or unprovoked trolling just because they’re “bored.”
Opinion is cheap; everyone has one. A prime example of this was the recent Lok Sabha elections in India. It was like the entire nation was at war with half-baked or faked information on social media. While some of it created genuine awareness towards the leaders & parties, most of it was just migraine-inducing mud-slinging. Again, people have been arrested for unsavoury comments on Social Media. Censorship is illogical but we as users need to know where to draw a moral line. Is it easy? Not at all.
It gives me immense pleasure to officially announce the addition of another member to the “Akash Kumar Sanity” family. Aranya Johar, whose poem you so vastly appreciated last week, will now be guest blogging on a monthly basis and will be conducting a segment-based post. Keep loving, sharing and following. Till next time.