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Navneet Malik: After Rohtak, Delhi’s the first big city I saw and fell in love!

Though some social media posts have dubbed Delhi as “boring,” actor Navneet Malik believes the city will always remain “dilwallon ki!” The actor, who was in the city after wrapping up filming for The Virgin Tree — a horror-comedy which also stars actors Sanjay Dutt, Sunny Singh and Mouni Roy — tells us that his love affair with the Capital began in 2013 when he landed here from his hometown Rohtak (Haryana) for a civil engineering job. “Rohtak ke baad, pehli baar I saw a city this big and I fell in love with it. It felt like I could build a future here,” says the actor, known for his roles in OTT films like Love Hostel, Heropanti 2 (both 2022) and The Freelancer (2023).

Actor Navneet Malik reflects on the pivotal role Delhi played in shaping his career and his perspective on life.(Photo: Manoj Verma/HT)

In his early days, Malik would scour online calls for models and actors and frequented Hauz Khas Village (HKV) to stand in line to audition with hundreds of other hopefuls. “I was thinking in terms of holding a job in the big city, but I pushed myself to reach somewhere that I could see the bigger perspective. Gaon se nikalkar sheher mein aaya, tab socha tha ki jo karna hai yahin [Delhi mein] karna hai,” recalls the 30-year-old.

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Delhi has given me a lot. If this city was not near my hometown Rohtak, it might not have been so easy for me to reach where I am today.

“I never had guidance; it was a learning phase when I came here… I got comfortable in front of the camera in HKV,” he says, sitting beside the reservoir in the same location. For Malik, the fort, lake and Deer Park were places that were “mysteries” that remained unexplored. “I always came here for auditions and to eat at the fast food joints. But if I wanted to explore, I would go to Old Delhi,” he reveals and continues, “If this city was not near my hometown, it might not have been easy for me to reach where I am today.”

Crediting the city for giving broadening his perspectives, Malik recalls an incident that is etched in his memory: “Once, near Jama Masjid I met a bunch of foreigners and struck up a conversation. English achche se aati nahi thi, par tooti phooti bhasha mein kuch toh maine kaha tha. Main poore time unke saath raha since sab foreigner dekh kar unse zyada paise le rahe thay. Bahut kuch seekhne ko milta hai Delhi mein. Yahin se travel ka chaska laga, personality bani, aur culture bhi seekha. Whenever I visit, I learn something new here!”

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