When Kartik Aaryan signed Imtiaz Ali’s film I remember his enthusiasm, “It’s my chance to learn, prove myself from one of the best directors we have,” he had said unheedful of advisers who thought he was stretching himself as an actor at a time when he needed to consolidate his stardom.
Today’s stars are not afraid of changing gears from commercial to off-mainstream offbeat cinema. When Shatrughan Sinha at the peak of his dialogue-baazi and superstardom decided to do Gautam Ghose’s Bengali film Antarjali Yatra, distributors, fans and family advised him against it.
Recalls Shatruji, “I was told, yeh kya kar rahe ho. Gautam Ghose is an arthouse director. Do you want to become an arthouse actor like Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri? This was the phase in my career when I was doing hardcore mainstream cinema. This was, I think, 1987, am I right? It was the same year as my big hit as a hero in Khudgarz, Rakesh Roshan’s directorial debut where Jeetendra and I played friends turned enemies.”
To do an offbeat film at this stage of his career and that too in Bengali, a language that Shatruji didn’t know was considered suicidal. “I was strongly advised against it. But my gut feeling was that I should do it. And I did. I played chandhal, one of those people who burn pyres at cremation grounds. I was totally deglamorized and stripped bare, emotionally and physically. I loved it.”
Shatruji says actors during his time were less enterprising. “Big stars during my heydays were afraid to take risks. Today I find the stars far more fearless and daring. Kartik Aaryan did Imtiaz Ali’s film and I believe he is in a totally unorthodox space in Ram Madhvani’s film. Varun Dhawan did Badlapur with Sriram Raghavan. I believe he’s playing a werewolf in a forthcoming film(Amar Kaushik’s Bhediya). Even Katrina Kaif is working with that brilliant Tamil actor Vijay Sethupati in Sriram Raghavan’s film. My daughter Sonakshi did Vikramaditya Motwane’s Lootera at a time when she was doing big commercial films. Aakhir beti kiski hai!”
Image source: SpotboyE archive