2018 has been the year of debutants. From Janhvi Kapoor’s Dhadak to Sara Ali Khan’s Simmba up for a release, we also have Salman Khan Film Productions’ Loveyatri, all set for its release on October 5. From being behind the cameras to facing the camera as the film’s lead, Aayush Sharma narrates his story of adjusting to being an actor. This exclusive interaction with mid-day online also had Aayush spill the beans on how he proposed Arpita Khan Sharma (his wife now) and being proud of being Salman Khan’s brother-in-law.
Excerpts from the interview:
How was it facing the cameras for your first Bollywood film.was it what you were expecting and day 1?
Nervous. It was a sleepless night. Facing the cameras was very awkward because I was an assistant director for the longest time. To go on a set and having my name on the van was shocking. I am not used to this thing. I remember the first day of my shoot, I went into the van and felt a little awkward sitting inside and then I came out and said, “Can I get a tent and a chair, please? I’ll be more than happy. They (Production team) said, ‘No, you’re the actor of this film, you cannot sit. I said that it’s okay, I am still fairly unknown. So, that was the first day, I was struggling with being an assistant to an actor. It’s a different ballgame. In my mind, I walked out saying on day one that I want to give a shot that people remember, especially the assistants. They forget that I am here because of somebody and I am here purely on talent. I am very egoistic about my retakes. I thought to myself that I am going to give every shot under five takes. Touch wood, in my third take we got our first shot. and I was very happy.
Tell us about your character in Loveyatri and the bond you’ve developed with people on sets?
In the film, I play a boy named Sushrut, who has just graduated and teaches kids how to play garba. He loves Gujarati culture and is a proud Barodian but aimless in life. His father says that he can’t teach garba the whole life. but he wants to open a garba institute, his dreams are very small. There’s a small thing in the film that he says, ‘As much as the butterfly flies, he’s never going to be an eagle.’ So, that is his attitude, he’s not born to be an eagle but wants to be a butterfly. Also, how he meets his girl….the first time you fall in love, you ask your friends, how to talk to her, you take advice from here. It’s about the essence and celebration of love.
Talking about your personal love life, did you go through all these things to impress Arpita?
By the time I met Arpita, I was already a professional at it (laughs) Arpita likes a man man, her brothers are men. She doesn’t like men who are trying to be cheeky. For her, if you love a girl, be a man, just go there hold her hand and tell her. I figured all that, and she’s a Leo, it’s difficult to impress a Leo. So, I was that naive as I am in the film but yes I was directionless at that time. But having Arpita in my life, becoming her husband, that’s something that made me serious. I want to do something for her and Ahil (son). So, that they should be proud of me.
Did you have any pre-conceived notions about the film industry?
It’s just been 5 years being into the film family. I am as much as an outsider as Warina Hussain (Film’s co-actor). As soon as I joined the family, I stepped out in assisting films, so I never got the time to meet Bollywood people at all. You’ll hardly see me going for Bollywood parties or every Friday spottings. I am very reserved in what I do. So for me, Bollywood is still an alien place. I still meet a lot of people I don’t know. There are certain people like Varun Dhawan, Kartik Aaryan is a close friend, and everybody that comes to Galaxy (Salman Khan’s house) is close to me. Over that, I don’t know Bollywood. For me, that’s still an alien place. I am still very awkward in Bollywood parties. I am very shy when it comes to going to a Bollywood party. I Don’t know what to discuss. Maybe you’ll only talk about how’s work, your films that’s it. Beyond that, you have no conversation.
Maybe, once you start going out, you’ll start developing conversations with them at parties.
I don’t know. If I go to a film party. I precisely have a time-gear on my watch, it’s 45 minutes. I meet everybody and leave within those 45 minutes. You can’t be yourself, you can’t really do what you want to thinking that somebody is looking, somebody might judge you or they’ll give you a story about you the next day. I am more comfortable being at home.
As an actor, who is your inspiration?
I take inspiration from everyone, that can be the biggest actors or superstars. I take inspiration from Shah Rukh Khan Bhai, he has a lot of dedication towards his hard work. There’s something about Salman Khan Bhai that after being in the industry for 30 years, he doesn’t let his reigns lose. There are other young actors like Varun Dhawan, Ranbir Kapoor, the kind of versatility and energy they have is phenomenal. I look at my contemporaries how they are working. If they can do it, I can do it better, that’s how I challenge myself.
How are you dealing with this whole new phase – balancing the act between your personal life (spending time with Arpita and Ahil) and professional life?
Well, I am happy that there’s something called as FaceTime. I remember I was shooting in Baroda and I couldn’t connect with them. That’s when I started getting restless that I can’t get in touch with my son, I can’t see him. And there was an artist in Baroda that got me a sketch of Ahil and me. Till date, I travel with that sketch everywhere because that is something that I connect with. I do miss my family but somewhere down the line even if I get 45 minutes with them it’s good. Whenever I get the time I try and travel home. Every time I feel low, I keep telling myself that you need to be working hard. Your son needs to be proud of you. You need to be hardworking that if your son goes to school, he should be known as Aayush Sharma’s son.
How supportive were your family? What advice did Salim Khan sir or Salman Khan give you before entering the world of glitz and glamour?
With Salman bhai, he was very supportive and believed that I can do it. Whereas Sohail Khan, Arbaaz Bhai say that you are as good as your last film. As an actor you have to understand that stardom doesn’t stay permanently, it’s a roller coaster ride. If you get into this world and even if you know you are at the rock bottom, the only way you can go up is work hard. Here (In Bollywood) there’s nothing known as minus 1, there’s only zero. If you are on zero, you keep working hard, you’ll reach somewhere. So, they mentally prepared me that there will be disasters, failures, and rejections but you will have to keep going at it. And that was something that was their advice. They’ve been very supportive while they gave me the reality check. Whereas my father was very apprehensive about this because as a kid I never went to drama school, acting class.
With social media around and talks about nepotism, how well are you prepared to accept praises and criticism alike?
I want to be trolled. I think that is a sign of relevance, as only relevant people get trolled. Have you ever seen an irrelevant person being trolled? I generally believe that trolling is a good sign. It’s a sign of positivity. I don’t read my comments. So, that’s why I don’t really get affected by it. I’ll get thrilled to know that I am being trolled, which means that my thoughts and visions are reaching people.
Also, there are many other actors that have made their debut this year. Were you under any kind of pressure while performing?
See, my brain works in a different pattern. If I have a big film like Dhadak and it works for debutants, I am more than happy. This year people are actually looking for debutants.
In terms of awards and competitions?
Not really. I believe there’s a lot of work in the industry and everybody can find their place. If these Khans can sustain each other for decades to come. Then I am sure that we are too small fishes having issues with each other. All the actors that are coming this year have a different style of acting. There are so many different scripts for everyone. Nobody wants to be somebody else. The competition has also decreased. So, it’s a different ball game.
You are known as Salman Khan’s brother-in-law. How do you take that comment, and that somewhere takes away the focus from you as an actor. How well are you prepared to deal with it?
It’s a very sweet comment. There are only two people in the world who have the luxury to be known as Salman Khan’s brother in law. Me and Atul Agnihotri bhai. If you go to see on the other side, people might think that I am under his shadow, but who doesn’t want to be under the shadow of Salman Khan? I feel as much as I am family to him, I am still his fan. He is Salman Khan and one of the most successful actors in the industry. I can’t deny the fact that where I am today is because of him. If not for him, I don’t know what did I mean, who would want to watch me?
Did you always want to be an actor?
No. Actually, I was toying with the idea after I got married, when Salman Bhai told me that I can be an actor. I never quite understood the responsibility that comes with being an actor. And, I was like okay, who doesn’t like being called an actor. It was an interesting idea. It’s only after the release of Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which was my first film as an assistant. That’s when I started developing a love for my films. I started the love for creating content. I thought that in history when people talk about cult films, I can be a part of one of those films. So, that is where the drive of getting into this field came. when you see it from the outside, you only see the fanfare, you look at the actor, the entourage and various other things. It’s the smaller things that make them happy, not the hysteria that makes them happy. When your work gets recognised that makes you happy.