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The First Actor Bureaucrat

The 2011 Batch IAS officer Abhishek Singh is presently juggling between administration and acting. But for how long, he doesn’t know?
Indian Masterminds Stories

To serve the country as an IAS officer is more than a full-time job. The day starts early and one never knows when would it end. The same goes for acting. It demands lots of hard work and determination. What would you call a person who pursues both professions with equal vigour and passion? Well, IAS officer Abhishek Singh doesn’t consider himself to be a ‘Super Human’.

Posted as Deputy Collector in Delhi state government’s headquarter Singh will be starring in popular Netflix web-series Delhi Crime Season-2. He is already making headlines by featuring in B Praak’s music video. So how does he balance the two super-busy professions? Does he intend to move into the addictive world of Bollywood fulltime, if he gets a big break?

Abhishek is very clear about that. Civil Services was a childhood dream and he won’t quit it for anything else. Not even for a potential Bollywood Blockbuster. 

“Acting happened accidentally. I didn’t plan for it. But, I am enjoying it thoroughly. It’s a different world and experience. Even if this profession gives me all the popularity one can crave for, I would always like to be remembered as an IAS rather than an Actor,” the actor-officer told Indian Masterminds.

He apparently wants to make hay till the Sun shines and till he can manage both demanding professions together, with equal aplomb. The day he feels acting was taking toll of his administrative career, he won’t have a second thought in leaving the glitzy world of celluloid. “It is my passion and I wants to serve the nation”, he says. So how did he happen to land the popular web-series and music video?

Abhishek Singh (Courtesy : Social media)

Abhishek says he was in Mumbai for some official work last year when his old friend Mukesh Chabbra called up to meet. Chhabra is one of the biggest Casting Directors of Bollywood and is in the news for being the Director of Sushant Singh Rajput’s last film Dil Bechara. When he reached Chhabra, latter was discussing a new web series based on crimes.

Unwittingly Abhishek too joined in the discussion giving certain inputs. Netflix team was impressed with his ideas. They were surprised to know that he was not from the film world but was actually a civil servant. Then they insisted that Abhishek should play the lead role in the series and after several rounds of discussions, finally he agreed to be cast in the series.

First Actor Civil Servant

Of course, he had a personality and good looks. But, he was not familiar with the Bollywood nor did he have any acting experience. He was nervous to take the plunge. But Chhabra being a Casting Director, had seen acting potential in him. Chhabra convinced him to sign the series. He also even went for a small screen test.  He said, “I had no idea how to do it. Mukesh gave me the confidence and I took the risk. The Netflix team was really impressed by my screen test and personality. They immediately offered the contract.”

Abhishek with school students

He took necessary permissions from the government and signed the contract with Netflix. That is how he became the first bureaucrat to be signed for acting in a full-lengh web-series or commercial films. Earlier only a lady IPS officer appeared  in a documentary, but nobody had signed a commercial venture, he claims.

But, acting wasn’t a bed of roses for him.  Before the shooting of Delhi Crime started, Abhishek also worked for a short film made by National School of Drama (NSD) students. He says this was also Mukesh’s idea. He thought it will give me an peep into the world to acting and will be a part of preparation for Delhi Crime. It was kind of net-practice before the actual test match, he smiles.

Supportive Seniors

The first season of Delhi Crime had received raving reviews for performances of seasoned actors like Shefali Shah, Rasika Duggal, Adil Hussain, and Rajesh Tailang. Obviously, Abhishek was under pressure to match their performance. “They are brilliant actors. Even if I try my best I won’t be able to match them. But I am positive that people will like my work because I am being natural in my performance.”

Abhishek with few poilice officers

Before signing the contract Singh’s biggest worry was how he will handle both the duties and will he get the permission to take it forward. But this was easier than he thought. He says, “My seniors have always been very supportive and were excited about me doing a web series. I also got permission from the Chief Secretary to Delhi Government and also required leave. Right now I am playing both the roles with ease and hope to continue it in the same way till it lasts.”

Always want to give a positive message and create an impact

Abhishek’s childhood dream to join civil services has its roots in his family. “My father was an IPS officer. I have not seen a man as polite and poised as my father. He always motivated me to do better than him. He was my inspiration for joining IAS. He used to tell me that an IAS officer has endless ways to serve the nation and help the needy. I followed him and achieved whatever I am today,” he says.

Abhishek during an address

Even when he joined entertainment industry, the purpose is same for him. He wants to give a positive message from which ever character he plays in the future. He says, “In Delhi crime I playing a role of a police officer. The short film ‘Char Pandrah’ also had a message regarding mental illness. My music video is also about an issue of heartbreak faced by almost every youth in this country”.

Abhishek identifies with the music video as he too dealt with heartbreak earlier in his life, had slipped into depression but came out of it with support of his family and friends. “When I was offered with the video I immediately said yes because any number of motivational speeches won’t create an impact that this single video has created. Depiction of a character on silver screen will always have a bigger impact on people than whatever I do as an IAS officer. So I am hoping to play roles that will make a change in the way people think,” he says

Abhishek greeting president Shri Ram Nath Kovind

Development is the Keyword

Abhishek believes that the real development is not developing infrastructure but to change the mindset of people. Cinema is the strongest tool to achieve that.

The 2011 batch officer’s original cadre was Uttar Pradesh but in 2015 he got a cadre transfer to Union territory. In the career of around nine years, he has served on very crucial positions in UP as well as in Delhi. He also played a key role in implementation of Odd-Even plan in New Delhi.

Abhishek singh during a photoshoot

Mr. Singh also founded  SIGMA (Students For Involved Governance and Mutual Action) which is a  helpline community conceptualized by the students to help in identifying, training and hiring of the unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled workers across Delhi-NCR.

Officer Spouse

Abhishek giving an Autograph

Abhishek has married to a fellow IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal whom he met during training in Mussoorie. But during the decade long service does what is his act hat made lasting impact on the society, he cites one from his first posting in Kanpur (Rural) as a SDM. “Some powerful landlords were harassing a widow as her husband had borrowed some money from them before he died. They had taken over her house. I helped her in getting the house back and put the goons behind the bars”.

He says he is always filled with pride and happiness whenever he thinks of this incident. “I am really grateful that I got this opportunity to serve people and will continue to do so. No matter what comes in the way,” he concludes


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