Sharib Hashmi: ‘I don’t think I would have done anything differently’

Actor Sharib Hashmi, who plays the lead in ‘Darbaan’, believes that following his instincts was the best decision he made in life. He is also all praise for Samantha Akkineni, calling her the ‘surprise package’ of season two of ‘The Family Man’

Being the son of a film journalist, it is not only an interest in cinema that actor Sharib Hashmi seems to have picked up from his father; he has a penchant for quoting others. Sample this: “Hansal Mehta rightly said ‘Risk hai toh ishq hai’ (There is love only when you take risks),” he says, over phone from Mumbai.

Sharib has taken his fair share of risks, and continues to do so. It was 12 years ago — “on December 1, 2008,” he recalls — that he quit his job to pursue acting. Growing up, Sharib’s parents had wanted him to become an actor, and for a while he did harbour such desires. “But when I grew up, I didn’t grow big enough… because I’m just 5’4”,” he laughs. Since the ‘90s was a decade when stereotypes crushed many a fledgling actor’s dreams, Sharib never pursued his; instead, he gave it up for a career as a writer. “I worked as an assistant director, and then as a writer for MTV, where I used to appear on screen for some of the spoof segments I had scripted,” he adds. As it happened, these smaller gigs lit fire to a dream that he had kept suppressed, and he decided to take the plunge when he was 32, after he was married and had a child.

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“I saw a lot of hardships. I was financially broke, but now when I look back I feel like I took the right decision. I found my calling late but what matters is that I did find it,” says the Filmistaan actor.

Sharib’s recent offering is the ZEE5 film Darbaan, where he plays Raicharan. Directed by Bipin Nadkarni, the film is based on the story Khokababur Pratyabartan written by Rabindranath Tagore. Edited excerpts:

Sharib Hashmi in ‘Darbaan’

We see three stages of Raicharan’s life in Darbaan. It must have been quite the demanding role…

Raicharan has been the most challenging role of my career. I was intimidated when I read the script, and a little reluctant because I wasn’t sure if I could pull this off. This is a role that required preparation and some amount of technique.

You are not trained in acting. Was that a problem, then?

A big support was director Bipin Nadkarni ji. His script had everything that I needed, enough to play the emotional scenes. I didn’t have to draw from personal or past experiences to go to the dark space. Besides, I took the help of Inaamulhaq (his Filmistaan co-star) while preparing. Our make-up designer Vikram Gaikwad also helped me get the body language right for the different ages. I hope I have been able to do justice to the role because I put my heart and soul into playing Raicharan.

Stereotypical expectations of how an actor should look like kept you from pursuing acting in the ‘90s. Do you suppose the film industry has evolved since?

The ‘90s was a completely different world. Even the star system is not the same as it was then; writers used to speak a certain language. I’m happy that has changed. The language of cinema has evolved. There are script reading sessions now, which was unimaginable in those days. Nobody re-writes the script on the film set anymore, and lots of new talents are getting chances.

Sharib Hashmi in ‘Darbaan’

You turned producer with Ram Singh Charlie, which you also co-wrote. Is that a sign of your readiness to take bigger strides in the industry?

I don’t know what stage I have reached in the film industry (smiles). What I know is I follow my instincts and I will not hold myself back just because I have not reached that stage. If it is risky, I will still go ahead with it.

You also manage to balance writing gigs alongside your acting responsibilities. Is there a next step of evolution to this?

I wrote Mitron (2018). I had written the dialogues for Filmistaan (2012), and for Notebook (2019) other than Ram Singh Charlie. But I am steering away from writing deliberately because I want to concentrate on acting. I left a comfortable lifestyle at an age when most people start to plan their retirement to pursue my dream. I didn’t get it very easily, so now is the time to completely enjoy my acting journey. It is like how David Dhawan once said in an interview: ‘Chalti hui gaadi ki bonnet nahi kholna chahiye’ (Never open the bonnet of a car that is running). However, I do want to direct in the future.

With the benefit of hindsight, would you have done anything differently in your career?

(laughs) I don’t think so. Post Filmistaan, I would have gone ahead with the kind of roles I accepted, and I would still have said no to the films I refused. But I do wish I had started early. I wish I got my first film in 2008 because I spent three years just auditioning for roles. I also wish I went to some kind of acting school. I have faltered many times because I followed my insticts. However, I have always gotten up and started my journey every time that happened with a renewed vigour.

What are your expectations for the second season of The Family Man?

I can’t wait for season two to start streaming. The show will blow your mind away. Samantha Akkineni, who is an addition to the cast this season, has done an amazing job. She will be the big surprise package of this season.


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