How often does an upcoming actor get to make a big Hollywood debut with some of the biggest cinematic names in the world? Priyanshu Painyuli experienced just that when he made his international debut with Netflix’s Extraction opposite Marvel star Chris Hemsworth. Co-produced by The Russo brothers and directed by Sam Hagrave, Extraction hit the streaming platform on April 24. The film sees Priyanshu playing antagonist Amir Asif, a Bangladeshi crimelord who kidnaps a child.
Priyanshu says, “The lockdown has gotten exciting for me. I always knew that the project would be a big release considering it was made by the Russo brothers. Now with all the reactions coming in from across the world, including places like Brazil and Spain, it feels great. Even industry people here did not expect me to play such a role early in my career.”
Recalling how he bagged the role of Amir Asif, Priyanshu says that it was through casting director Tess Joseph that he found out about the project. “She’d liked my work in Bhavesh Joshi and got in touch with me. They were looking for a Bengali-speaking actor and she thought I was Bengali because of my first name. She asked me if I wanted to try auditioning. Since I’d spoken a lot of foreign languages previously on a show that I’d done, I decided to give this a shot.”
Also Read: Bhavesh Joshi Superhero Review
Priyanshu then took the help of his Bengali friend to learn the language. “I learnt a lot of famous Bollywood dialogues in Bengali. When you’re auditioning in a language that you’re comfortable with, it’s so much easier, but with a new language, it becomes intimidating. However, I was confident that I’d be able to pull it off.” During the shoot, the actor says, he received assistance from a dialogue coach from Dhaka. Over a period of two months, he was on video chats with his coach and learnt different dialects.
Considering he was going to be part of an international project that boasted of big ticket names, Priyanshu already knew that he’d learn a lot from these accomplished individuals. “The amount of preparation that goes in and the detailed planning that went into the project was amazing. Every shot needed to be precise and our safety was taken care of really well. I was nervous to be part of such a big ensemble, where I’m a fan of each and every one of them including our Indian actors Randeep Hooda and Pankaj Tripathi. I knew I had to step up my game. Sam was very confident even though it was his first film as director,” says the actor.
His rendezvous with Chris Hemsworth didn’t happen formally on set, but it took place when Priyanshu was sitting in the makeup van. “He walked in and sat on the chair next to mine and I introduced myself and he introduced himself. I thought I’d be starstruck when I saw him, but because he was so grounded and calm, I felt like I was meeting just another co-actor. He was playing some music on his Bluetooth speaker and we talked about music for a while, followed by some banter about the food in Ahmedabad (where we shot). There were a lot of kids who came to take his autograph – he had such a huge following in that city,” shares Priyanshu.
The actor, whose hails from Dehradun, is currently looking forward to Rashmi Rocket with Taapsee Pannu. Priyanshu, who was raised in Bengaluru plays an army officer in the film and what makes it all the more special for him is the fact that he is an army kid himself. There has also been news of him being signed for Mirzapur 2, the web series which stars Ali Fazal and Pankaj Tripathi, but the actor remains tight-lipped about his ‘other project’. “I’m not supposed to talk about it,” he smiles.
With so many cross-cultural films being made, Priyanshu is hopeful about starring in films made outside India. When it comes to picking future projects, the actor says, “I want to do stories which are interesting and will stay in the minds of people for a long time. I should be able to feel for my character – that’s when I can translate it onscreen for the audience,” he signs off.