Honestly, Mallya


It all started with an Instagram post where he announced how he quit drinking a year back. Not that actor Sidhartha Mallya was an alcoholic, just that he experienced morning after anxiety.

“Getting thousands of responses on an honest post was overwhelming and made me think how many more lives could I touch, and maybe help if I shared more experiences,” he tells IANS.

Mallya’s memoir, ‘If I am Honest’, published by Westland Publications which recently hit the stands takes the reader back to 2016, when he went through depression. Something that came as a bit of a surprise to him, given that he seemingly had the world at his feet: He was young, had just graduated from a prestigious drama school and had upcoming film projects.

However, despite all the awaiting opportunities, he was unhappy. That was when he realised that something was not right and sought professional help. Thus began the journey to understanding his current mental state as well as an exploration of the other mental issues he has suffered throughout his life and where they might have stemmed from.

In this memoir, he opens up about – struggling with depression, living with OCD, the effects of his parents’ divorce, why he quit drinking-and also what helped him face and overcome his challenges.

“There are a few messages that I want to get across. One is that everyone can suffer from issues of mental health. And also, I think, by being honest, as the title suggests, I want to convey that it is okay to talk about these things. To embrace your own truth. It makes no sense to be ashamed talking about it,” he says.

Ask him if there was the much hyped ‘catharsis’ post finishing the book, and he asserts, “Frankly, the whole process was quite difficult. You have to do a lot of self-work to be able to talk about these things. Writing it and reliving those things do take a toll on you. However, I kept telling myself — If I can just help one other person, then it is all good.

Mallya, who studied business and joined the corporate world before giving it up to enroll in the prestigious Royal Central School of Speech and Drama says that he always wanted to do something performative in India.

“From a very young age, my imagination loved running in every direction, and always wanted to do my thing. I am very pleased that I made this transition. Because if I didn’t, I don’t know if this book would have existed today. I think the switch helped me grow as a person. It helped me get in touch with myself,” he says.

Pleased that he made his debut with the rebel filmmaker Q in ‘Brahman Naman’ (the first Indian original to release on Netflix), the actor says that what fascinated him was the fact that the director is known to do his own thing without getting distracted by box office consideration. “He is not a conformist, and that is what makes him special. We shot the film in 2014, a time when the Indian cinematic landscape was very different. All these OTT platforms did not exist then.”

Stressing that digital platforms have opened doors to multiple genres without the pressure of a box office success and also actors who might not be A-listers, he adds, “Everything is subscriber based, and he success of a show is not based on box office revenue. Therefore, you don’t need your star names in these projects anymore. I think what it has done is it has given a lot of actors the opportunities to be in really good projects that they would not have been really able to be in the traditional model.”

Currently working on a few film projects, the lockdowns for this actor were not really drastic. “Believe it or not, despite what the people might think, I am not the most social person. I like being in bed by 9 pm and getting up by 6:30 in the morning. So, the lockdowns did not really change my life very much. I know a lot of people who love social interactions. I actually spent a lot of the time working on myself.”

And how is it being Vijay Mallya’s son? “Well, I do not want people to think ‘Vijay Mallya’s son wrote a book’. I hope that I get respected. And if you don’t like me, if you don’t like my book, that is fine. But do not dislike the book because you associate me with someone else that you don’t like.”

(Sukant Deepak can be contacted at sukant.d@ians.in)