Who's That - Anand Tiwari: Setting the stage

By Antara Ghosal , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | April 19, 2010
Tata Tea's Jaago Re campaign made Tiwari the undisputed brand ambassador of a young, restless India

Remember the guy-next-door in the first commercial of Tata Tea's Jaago Re campaign, whose power-packed performance - urging people to wake up and think - broke all records for the brand in terms of popularity and made him the undisputed brand ambassador of the 'young, restless India striving for a change'?

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More recently, he appeared in one of Virgin Mobile's ads in a comical avatar, ogling his boss's daughter and getting expelled from work. In between, he has appeared in umpteen numbers of ads, from GNIIT to Toyota Innova to Vodafone to Jet airways-Citi Bank credit card, and in each of these commercials, he has left the audience impressed. Meet the versatile Anand Tiwari, a Mumbaikar, professional actor, ardent theatre lover and aspiring filmmaker - not necessarily in that order.

Tiwari doesn't have the traditional killer looks of a film star. Neither does he have jaw-dropping six packs that girls swoon over. But there's something about him that makes him stand out in the viewer's mind. "My performance is my biggest asset. I'm an ordinary looking person. My USP is my ability to convey the complex messages in a simple but effective way," says the actor.

Tiwari owes his acting skills to his association with theatre. "Every play is a learning experience. It sharpens the actor inside you," he adds. From the time he was in fifth or sixth standard, he wanted to be an actor and the stage was his first choice. Coming from a family of doctors, getting into the noble profession was a general progression for him. However, Tiwari was not ready to compromise his first love (that is theatre) for anything else. Little wonder, then, that he took up mass communication and aggressively pursued theatre.

Tiwari has had a more or less successful stint with Bollywood as well. He acted in The President Is Coming alongside Konkona Sen. He has also done parts in Slumdog Millionaire, Mumbai Meri Jaan and Anurag Basu's next movie, Kites. At present, he is shooting for an untitled small budget film by Praveen Kumar, starring Rajat Kapoor and Vinay Pathak.

Ask him about a full-fledged film career and Tiwari states that whatever his achievements in Bollywood or advertising, it would never dilute his passion for the stage. "I do ads and films to do more theatre. Theatre is a medium where there is much talent but not much money. One needs to opt for other alternatives to keep things rolling," he explains.

Currently, Tiwari is working on plays such as Sunil Shanbag's Dreams of Taleem; and Samuel Adamson's All about my Mother, which features Ratna Pathak Shah, among others.

Looking at Tiwari's achievements so far, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say what his character in the Virgin Mobile commercial (elevator) mouthed: "Biodata mast hai".