From background characters to playing a corpse and even a ghost, Mukkabaaz”star Vineet Kumar says he has done all kind of roles in his career in the hope that these appearances will eventually translate into bigger parts.

It was a struggle for nearly two decades for the actor, who was first noticed with Anurag Kashyap’s 2012 gangster drama Gangs of Wasseypur as Danish Khan and later got his due with the filmmaker’s heartland boxing drama Mukkabaaz.

The actor said the blink-and-miss appearances never bothered him because the thought of not having work was more frightening.

“As an actor, if there’s one thing that sends shivers down my spine, it’s the absence of work. For a very long time, I didn’t have any work. So I’ve done roles where I’m just standing in the background, in the hope that next time when I work with the same people, maybe I’ll get a line, then a scene,” Vineet told PTI in an interview.

The struggle to stay afloat in the city while chasing his acting dreams led Vineet to pick up everything that came his way.

“I’ve played a dead body in film and even a ghost on a TV show. I later identified myself by the kurta I was wearing in the scene. I had no money and you have to do what comes your way to survive in this city, to fulfill your larger dream. All these experiences, this journey helps you eventually as an actor.”

From playing a corpse to fighting zombies on Netflix’s horror series Betaal, life has come full circle for the talented artiste.

The show chronicles the story of officials who are hired to displace tribal villagers to make way for a new highway but unearth an old curse and an army of British soldier-zombies.

Vineet said he has a “lot of hunger” in him as an actor and finds himself constantly in search of roles which can take him on a journey he hasn’t been on before.

“This gives me immense joy and it’s now a part of my system. I don’t say yes to a script quickly but if I do, I surrender completely. I never calculate how much hard work I have to put in.

“The key, for me, is to take up new work and not have even the reflection of your past performance in it. It’s challenging but so much fun. In Betaal, you’ll not see any resemblance to what I’ve done in the past. When you understand the nuances of your character, the rhythm, something fresh is born.”

Written and directed by Patrick Graham, who previously helmed the horror series Ghoul, Betaal is co-produced by Gaurav Verma, Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment and Netflix. The show has Nikhil Mahajan as the co-director.

Betaal marks Viineet’s second outing with Red Chillies and Netflix after Bard of Blood and said he was “blown away” when he read the script.

“I hadn’t done anything in the horror space and had never worn uniform onscreen. The way the script was written, my character and his backstory was so interesting. His back story, which is dark and keeps haunting him, is very well flashed out and runs parallel to the current narrative.

“He faces a lot of internal battles along with the external and eventually faces his past, his demons. My directors helped me get exactly what they were looking for. It was such a fantastic experience,” he added.

Ready to stream from May 24, Betaal will be the first series which Viineet has headlined and the actor said he’s keenly awaiting the audience response.

“Every actor wants his work to reach a wider audience. A few years ago, no one had thought that an actor’s work can travel to 190 countries, a lot more than a theatrical release… The fact that people of different cultures will watch something together is exciting. Betaal has a strong global appeal,” he added.

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