From situation TV comedy to taut big screen suspense, Arora’s deft acting technique can successfully serve almost any role, and he recently explored a new career avenue, appearing as the lead character in a Punjabi pop music video by the famous singer Charanjeet Singh Sondhi.
“I was born in Northern India where the culture is very attracted to lively, loud pop music,” Arora said. “In Punjab, almost every kid sings and dreams of becoming a pop star. Punjabi pop style is all about being very open. It really doesn't care about having a message or anything except going with the flow and doing what you feel. Even if a song’s lyrics don't really make much sense, it's fun always and high energy.”
Punjabi pop, with its infectious rhythms and exotic instrumentation, has become known worldwide, and songs like Punjabi MC’s remix of “Mundian To Back Ke,” featuring famed rapper Jay Z, have crossed over to top the charts in multiple countries, even making the US Top 40 and has been featured on the soundtracks of numerous American films and TV shows. In India, Sondhi is one of the genre’s key proponents.
“It was pretty exciting how it came about,” Arora said. “I was doing a play and one night after the show, I met Sondhi, a very popular singer. He liked my acting, and said he was impressed by the feelings I expressed onstage and told me about this story for a particular music video that was coming up. Not long after, he discussed with me and played the song, ‘Kittiyan Kyun Bewafaayian,’ for me. I liked it and he finalized me for the shoot.”
“Because I was always interested in movies or TV this was my first music video,” Arora said. “I’d never thought of even trying for one but when it came along by itself like that, I decided to go for it.”
“The video is about a villager who falls in love but gets ditched by the girl,” he said. “I played the main part of the heart-broken lover, who suffers through that revelation and then sees her actually marrying the other guy.”
Filmed on location in the remote countryside, the job had some unexpected merits for Arora. “It was a great experience, as the shoot was in a small village with lots of very friendly people,” he said. “It's fun to go and explore the Indian countryside. And the people there give you so much affection—almost too much. There’s lots of love and lots of good food.”
“The director Dinesh Dubey was good, very chill to work with,” Arora said. “It took us two days to shoot the video and I liked the way he tried different things, so we’d have lot of options when it came to editing. I had to learn drive a tractor and that was a first for me. I took a few trial runs before the shoot, but there were definitely some fun moments learning that. I loved it.”
The music video represented one more step forward in Arora’s fast-growing resume of notable achievement. “I really enjoyed the job,” Arora said. “And it is doing well, it was released by T-series, one of the best known music companies in India. It's a good song, and the people are loving it, especially out in villages where lot of guys in love get hurt just like that, and when they watch the video or listen to that song, it makes them feel better.”
Even for a role that some may have approached as a light weight gig, Arora’s involvement was typically intense. Having trained at the distinguished Lee Strasberg Theater & Film Institute, the actor completely inhabited the role with his own life experience.
“personally, I have been in just this kind of situation,” Arora said. “And it took a while for me to get out of the character, because I felt it so deeply. It’s tough when you use real sense memory to play a part like that. I finally came out of it—but it took a week.”
That kind of heartfelt commitment is what really sets Arora apart from many of his colleagues. Expect to hear a lot more from this young talent.