He says he has worked as a bouncer and freelance writer abroad "to pay his rent". And now Congress veteran Arjun Singh's grandson Arunoday is making his acting debut in Bollywood - in a negative role - without making his grandfather pull any strings.
"My grandfather is an important man, but he doesn't know any filmmaker. He doesn't know anybody in the industry. I refused to take any help from my family," 26-year-old Arunoday, who will star in Sikandar, said.
"I'm trying to make it on my own, but considering the family I come from, people take no time saying that it [films] is because of that [family contacts]. I take great pride in saying that my family has got nothing to do with it," he added.
But weren't there any restrictions from the family on his choice of a career?
"No. My grandfather is pretty lenient and my parents are as odd as I am. Nobody really cares whatever I do as long as it makes me happy," he said.
Shifting to Sikandar by Piyush Jha, the debutant says he is playing a Kashmiri terrorist named Zahgeer who "has been thrust into a life he never asked for" and "trapped in something he never wished".
"He hates himself, but at the same time he is fiercely proud and I try to bring in an emotional dichotomy in the character," he said.
Set in Jammu and Kashmir, the film centres on a teenage boy, who dreams of playing football at the national level, and his friend (Ayesha). Things take an unexpected turn when he finds a gun on the road.
Starring child actors Parzan Dastur and Ayesha Kapoor in the lead, the movie also features Sanjay Suri and R Madhavan. Produced by Big Pictures and Sudhir Mishra, Sikandar is releasing August 21.
"Sikandar is a suspense thriller about children growing in a world which is not good for them. It'll make people talk," said Singh.
Asked why he is debuting with a negative role, Arunoday said: "I don't care if it's a negative role. Conventionally I couldn't have waited for a launch as I had no contacts when I came to Mumbai. I was very fortunate to get the part."
"I didn't want to take the chance of waiting for somebody to cast me in the lead," he said.
Arunoday returned to India last year after spending nine years in Boston, New York and London.
A theatre actor since the age of 12, he studied and grew up at the Kodaikanal International School in Tamil Nadu. He got a scholarship to attend Brandeis University in Boston, US, where he majored in English literature, creative writing and journalism.
In New York, he took classes at the New York Film Academy and the Actor Studio and "did odd jobs" like that of a bouncer, a freelance writer and painter "to pay the rent".
Before foraying into films, he did plays like Gladiator Games and also gave voiceovers for Discovery London.
With other projects like Mirch and Ayesha in his kitty, Arunoday is "just looking forward for work" from anywhere.