He came to Mumbai to study law, then he got into film making and assisted in directing a movie, and from there, his career took off in the film industry. Starting with the short film Mystery Man, the actor Arslan Goni – from Jammu and Kashmir - made his Bollywood debut with the film Jia Aur Jia which also starred Kalki Koechlin and Richa Chaddha. He is now all set to play a negative role in Alt Balaji's upcoming Mein Hero Boll Raha Hu web series, along with Parth Samthaan and Patralekhaa.
The actor, who likes to take on new challenges and strives on characteristic roles, is now venturing into the world of web series. Talking exclusively to The Bridge Chronicle, Arslan revealed his challenges as an outsider in the industry as well as his experience of shooting and preparing for a period drama.
You were reportedly signed on for a film, but it was never released. Tell us about your struggles as an outsider in the acting world.
Back in the day, it was very difficult to make a film especially with an outsider or a newcomer. For a film to see the day of light... anyway when you get a film, there is a 50-50 per cent chance of it getting shelved; And yes, it breaks your heart! [For the movie you mentioned,] we worked very hard and in fact, 95 per cent of the film was shot but it didn’t release. I think everybody has their own story and everybody has their struggle. Part of the struggle is the time required to build connections since you don’t know anybody. The struggle [also] starts with finding a house in Bombay, to be very honest! I think most of us go through that. [While] some people face more struggles, some face less. But it’s not a very easy [place] to cut into. Now, with the web, the work opportunities are so much more. A couple of years back, it was not like that.
You’re on board with Alt Balaji’s Main Hero Boll Raha Hoon. Tell us about it. Also tell us, that if Parth Samthaan is playing Abu Salem, whose role are you essaying?
I am playing the role of a don, who is a grey-shaded character. He is very eccentric, loud, and a big-time trouble-maker. It was very interesting playing this character as I have never ventured into something like this before. I loved the creative freedom I had while playing this character, thanks to my director Siddhartha Luther. My character’s name is Lala - it is fictitious - but if Parth is playing Abu Salem then I should be playing Daud, I think; Or his younger brother.
How was the experience of playing a role in a period-drama?
It was amazing. It was like going back to childhood times, when you discovered stories, you didn’t see anything but you just heard them, and trying to get yourself into that world was just amazing! I’m not from Bombay, so I had to go and sit with some of my friends from Mumbai Central, or urban areas and figure out how to work like the character.
On the personal front, we would like to know more about Arslan Goni, the outsider’s origin story. Please tell us about your schooling, education, etc.
I’m from a small town called Bhaderwah, which is in the Jammu district. I was born in the mid-80s. I went to Dehradun first and when I was seven-years-old I left for boarding school. Then I came to Bombay to study Law. So I was at different places in life - when I came to Bombay for the first five years I was doing law, then when I decided to get into acting I worked in production, first as assistant director. I got my training for acting under Anupam Kher and then did one film - which did not release. Then I got a call from Mudassar Aziz for Jia Aur Jia and I did that film. The journey, for me, has been like a rollercoaster because every time I decided that maybe I want something else, acting just called me back. It was strange and amazing!
Since your cousin, Aly Goni, was also in Bigg Boss 14, what was your reaction to Rubina Dilaik’s win?
Aly should have been the winner. All the best, congratulations to Rubina, but in my world Aly is the winner that’s all I want to say!