EXCLUSIVE: Class actor Chayan Chopra decodes his journey from corporate world to the digital screen
When it comes to equality and representation of the sexual spectrum on screen, we, as a nation and industry, are working towards a better direction. Sometimes the makers go stereotypical, but a lot of times now, they manage to make it authentic . Amidst this, came the Netflix show Class that gave a respectful representation to the gay community with the characters played by Chayan Chopra and Chintan Rachchh.
Their characters Dhruv and Faruq and the actors themselves found immense love and acceptance from the audience. They became an instant rage and recently, Chayan Chopra got in a heart-to-heart with Bollywood Bubble and decoded his journey from being a corporate employee to a heartthrob of the nation.
Chayan Chopra on his initial years and Guilty
Chayan grew up in Delhi with an academic background. The actor studied in Delhi University and worked at a consulting firm. Simultaneously, he also pursued his interest in acting by doing theatre in college and gave auditions.
In his last year of college, at 19, he got his first break with Dharma Productions’ Guilty. “My parents were happy as the projects boasted names like Kiara Advani, Dharma and Gurfateh Pirzada. I also thought that it would be a new experience. But I had a job and it had just started,” Chayan reveals.
But he didn’t let it stop him. He shares, “I don’t know how, but I managed to balance the two. I would work half day from office, then for the other half I would work on my laptop from my vanity van at Guilty shoot. I wrapped up the shoot in 1 month and then there was 7-8 months silence.“
The actor on how Class happened
When Guilty finally released, Covid also happened. But Chayan’s performance got noticed and he got calls for more auditions and one of them was Class. Meanwhile, he was still doing his corporate job. While he didn’t know the popularity of Elite before, the Spanish show that is remade as Class, it was director Aashim Ahluwalia’s name that excited him.
Chayan on playing a gay role
However, the prospect of playing a queer character, made Chayan’s parents feel a little apprehensive. “It wasn’t because of them having any problems with being gay. Their worry was about how the society would take it and the perception they had about the industry. They thought I already had this stable job, why should I risk it,” he says. Chayan had to convince them a little and eventually, they came on board.
The actor insists he was influenced by films like Call Me By Your Name and Moonlight and that nudged him in accepting the role of Dhruv. “The society never was of concern to me. As for my parents and relatives, I was like they have their own lives and I have mine. I wanted to take my decisions. Even if it is a wrong one, I will deal with it. I knew there would be some immature minds who would take the intimate moments in a wrong way. But I got a comfort in those scenes from Chintan.”
Chayan Chopra and Chintan Rachchh bond
Talking about his equation with Chintan, Chayan shared, “Since Day 1, Chintan and I have been as comfortable as a friendship can be. At that time, I was exploring spirituality, and somehow even Chintan was in that stage at that time. During our workshop, I played a flute song which even he recognised. Then we knew that it wasn’t going to be a surface level friendship. So, there was no awkwardness with him.“
The impact of Dhruv
The actor asserts that he hasn’t read one negative or homophobic comment anywhere about his character. He shares, “It is all quite overwhelming. When I decided to do this project, I had a certain sense of responsibility over my head to make this character authentic. I spoke to a lot of my homosexual friends as well as trans people to understand how their equations are with their parents. I asked them how they felt the first time they fell in love. Being a cis-het guy, I knew that I can’t experientially know what it is, but I can learn from these people’s experiences and try to replicate it the best way possible.”
His coming out scene in the show has left a huge impact as well. Chayan informs, “So many people have reached out to me regarding Dhruv’s coming out scene with his father. I welled up reading so many responses. One person messaged me that they were so shook up by it that they decided to talk to their father.”
He reveals that even his parents were quite moved by his portrayal. “They found it such a cute love story. My family has come up to me and told me, there is no gender in this love, it is just the love. My mom even shares all the lovely edits the fans make of Dhruv and Faruq.” He also insists that the role hasn’t stereotyped him as all the auditions that he has been getting, none of them are close to Dhruv.
The actor on his elder brother Rachit and starting a business with him
While it all ended well, the beginning of Class was a little shaky for the actor. When the rise of Covid halted the show’s shoot, Chayan says it was one of his lowest phases. “I had left my high-paying job and now I had nothing. I couldn’t see a future of the project at that time. It was all so uncertain. But the only person who was on board with everything since day 1 was my elder brother Rachit.”
Chayan shares that his brother pushed him to explore his creative side. They even built a business together. “My brother and I were working on an idea called Circle Brands, around the time I left my job. He wanted to start this company with me. So, I was managing the shoot of Class and the business at the same time.” The actor is still working as the Chief Operating Officer at the brand.
Chayan’s vision for the future
While Chayan Chopra is enjoying the success of Class and acting, he does not want to let go of his business side. “I’ll continue managing the things I have been doing. I am very serious about my business and it is doing very well. Entrepreneurship is a side of me that also gives me a lot of happiness and fulfilment. Acting is something I will continue doing and I take it very seriously. There is a lot to come and I can’t wait to explore it,” he concludes.