There’s something about Amol Parashar‘s smile. When you see it, you can’t help but smile along. I mean, I totally get why a lot of girls are gaga over this cutie. A few months ago, TVF Tripling‘s second season started streaming online and the actor has been receiving endless love from all quarters ever since. I still come across fan arts and various posts dedicated to his character from the show, Chitvan. Plus, how can I not mention how the internet gets flooded with Kunal memes on a daily basis?! It’s not every day that we see a character from an ad going viral. But then, it’s Amol we’re talking about. Of course, the unthinkable is possible, and that too quite seamlessly.

After studying mechanical engineering at the esteemed IIT Delhi and working for a couple of years, Parashar shifted to Mumbai to follow his true calling – acting. And he happily admits that unlike many aspiring actors, he didn’t have to ‘struggle’ to get work. Some ads here and there and a bit of theatre work helped him get through the initial months. Then things started looking up as interesting projects started coming his way. Surely, Tripling was a turning point for him. However, he wasn’t really complaining before that either. “There was a time when I had 28 rupees in my account. But I had a place to stay at, I had food on my plate, I had friends to look after me,” he smilingly shared while talking about the nascent stage of his career. In a long candid conversation over a glass of wine (for me) and diet coke (for him), Amol spoke about his ‘struggle period’, life after Tripling and a lot more. Excerpts:

You rose to fame after Tripling and have been seen in a bunch of popular web shows post that. But unlike most overnight stars, we’ve never really heard you talk about your initial days of struggle and how you had to face a lot of difficulties before your big break…

Somewhere down the line, I decided that I won’t look at it as my ‘struggle period’ because the more I say it, the more I’ll feel like I had to go through bad days or something to get here. And I don’t think it’s true. All the days that got me here have been good. That’s what I believe. I know for a fact that there are so many people out there who’ve had worse days than me, who’ve actually struggled, even physically. If I keep referring to my initial days as ‘struggle’, that would be quite disrespectful to the people who’ve been facing real struggle. There are worse stories, worse experiences than mine. I have some privileges. Some people have privileges bigger than mine too. But there are many who don’t have what I have. It has been my journey, it’s different from everyone else’s. But I don’t want to romanticize the struggle, the pain. Jo tha, woh tha. My friends know it because they had witnessed it. There was a time when I had 28 rupees in my account but I had a place to stay at, I had food on my plate, I had friends to look after me. I didn’t step out of home because you can’t take out 28 rupees from the ATM. I was staying in Wadala and the only way to get out of there was to get a cab. So I stayed indoor as I had nothing to spend. Now, I am in a much better place. Having said that, I still have stressful days sometimes. In a way, an actor’s struggle never really gets over as we keep aiming for more, working towards better projects. ‘Mujhe toh Netflix karna hai, mujhe toh international project karna hai’ – if I start thinking like that then my struggle will never end. The stress is going to be there. But I am better dressed now even when I am stressed. I have my stylist, I get my hair made. Baal achche hain, kapde achche hain par stress abhi bhi hai.

It’s great that you see the silver lining in everything and recall those days so positively. But wasn’t there any phase that deterred you even a little?

The year before Tripling came out was tricky. It’s not that I didn’t have work. I was getting work but it was not happening. I even got film roles but things didn’t take off. I was writing something that got shut down. I was supposed to be a part of a play but even that didn’t work out. When even a play got shut down in a series of other things that didn’t work out, it hit me hard ki yaar yeh bhi bandh hogaya. I remember having a conversation with TVF, because they were my friends. I had told them how nothing was happening and had started writing something for them. That was supposed to be my show for TVF. But even that didn’t work out. It was like a series of misadventures, it was a bad time. That was pretty stressful. Tripling happened by chance and became a game changer.

Most people still recognize you as Chitvan or Kunal and not Amol Parashar. Are you hoping it will change soon though?

I love how people see me, I don’t dislike it. But as more characters will come by, I will eventually be able to break the norm. Actors do face the pressure to pick up only certain roles and they keep looking for that perfect one. But once they play that iconic role, everything changes. Whenever you are seen, you get addressed as that character. You cannot fight that. It’s a sweet gesture and ultimately, it’s your face that they are recognizing and your work that they’ve watched and loved. I do try to take up different roles so that I can keep surprising everyone.

So what genres are you currently exploring?

I loved the role of a sweet, honest college boy in Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare. This kind of role has never landed by me before and I really like this genre. I would love to give dark and thriller roles a chance too, as there are many web series and movies being made on such themes. I wonder why I haven’t pursued such roles yet, someday I will. Another genre would be mindless comedy, quirky and bizarre yet entertaining. I think Tripling Season 2 does fall into that category somehow.

Travel has been a pivotal aspect of your on-screen journey. From featuring in fiction show like Tripling and It Happened In Hong Kong to hosting real-life travel shows – you’ve been seen travelling a lot on celluloid. Do you enjoy travelling off camera too?

Not really, travelling that is happening is purely because of work. It’s almost always a workation for me, rarely a vacation. A love for travelling happens in the lieu of shooting and I do enjoy it then. For instance, I was once in China shooting for a travel series and we were staying in individual tree houses. It was an amazing yet scary experience at the same time.

There are many Kunal and Chitvan memes floating across the internet. Moreover, now there are Chitvan GIFs and t-shirts which have become rather popular amongst youngsters. There were also hashtags dedicated to you that were trending on Twitter. How are you dealing with all the attention, especially from your female fans? Any crazy encounters?

It is one of the perks of acting – the love that you receive. Sometimes this attention does come in a strange unexpected way. But nothing has put me off, yet. Once a girl did track me down through my Instagram stories and she was just too overwhelmed to see me. I was stupidly smiling but I did not know how to react at that moment. I guess I am learning, too.

Do such experiences differ in Bombay and Delhi, as you hail from Delhi?

Yes, they do. It is casual to meet an A-list star in Bombay whereas, in Delhi, people are not prepared to meet an actor. I like the attention wherever I get it, it is mostly the younger crowd that is getting wired into such web series and they are well behaved around stars and new-age actors. So I really like it.