His evolution from an innocent Garba dancer in his acting debut Loveyatri to a dreaded gangster in the upcoming movie Antim: The Final Truth was a calculated move, believes actor Aayush Sharma who says he wants to do different kinds of parts right from the beginning of his career.
The Delhi-born actor forayed into movies in 2018 with the romantic-drama Loveyatri, backed by his superstar brother-in-law Salman Khan. His second film, too, has a Khan connection, who is pitted against Sharma in Antim. Directed by Mahesh Manjrekar, Antim, is an adaptation of the Marathi hit Mulshi Pattern (2018), which explores the hard conditions faced by farmers that pushes some of them towards crime.
“I was mostly getting college boy roles and I didn’t feel the need to continue doing the same chocolate boy parts. If I need to make a mark for myself as an actor, I need to do something different. I am lucky I got the Mulshi Pattern (adaptation), it is helping me broaden my horizon. I want to explore myself. I have no qualms about making mistakes,” Sharma told PTI in an interview.
As someone who is inclined towards grey characters, the actor said he instantly grabbed the offer to play a baddie in the Hindi remake Antim. “There is something interesting about their journey. Initially when I heard the film, I had reservations as the character is too dark and that I might be perceived as a villain and people might typecast me in the villain category.
“But then I realised that nobody in this world is born as a villain, it is what the experiences make them. So, it’s a journey that excited me — from having a decent upbringing to what he became, there was a character arc.”
As Antim marks his first on-screen collaboration with Khan, Sharma said he initially wasn’t aware that the 55-year-old star was acting in it too. “I was told four-five months later that he (Khan) wants to come in. I was very scared then. I genuinely feel very lucky that I am getting to work with the biggest superstar. We are very comfortable with each other. But the fact is that he is Salman Khan on the sets and we never cross the line with him, it is not like a brother-like conversation, there is a seniority that you have to maintain,” he said.
Sharma said he saw the original movie Mulshi Pattern in 2018 when he was offered the film, but chose to create his own version of his character of a ruthless goon. For his role of Rahul Patil, whom he describes as the most unpredictable person in the room, the actor underwent a tremendous physical transformation.
“He (The character I play) wants to achieve everything but does not understand how he would do it. He doesn’t see the consequences. I did not judge my character, I just thought he was making decisions depending on the circumstances.”
Talking about the on-screen face-off with Khan’s honest cop Rajveer Singh, Sharma said he was initially scared to pack punches at the superstar. “I couldn’t do the first punch as I wasn’t comfortable and was not able to get the rhythm right. But Salman bhai said it is not me who is fighting but the character. He also said the whole country will watch this so I better fight with conviction and have the guts to stand before him,” the actor said, adding, he took 20 retakes for a stunt where he had to hit Khan.
Sharma also expressed his gratitude towards director Manjrekar, who, he said, pushed him to give his best. “The most important thing for a learning actor is to have a director who knows what he is doing. He doesn’t direct as such but he will push you in a different way. He made us shoot for long hours. As a result, I would sleep in the vanity van and not travel back home. He did this because he didn’t want me to look fresh and be snappy on sets, just like my character.”
It is a different film for the ardent fans of Khan and for Sharma, he said. “What I am expecting is that people love and understand the difference of cinema that Salman bhai and I are offering. If the film works, it works. If it doesn’t, it is ok,” he said.
“I am mentally prepared that there will be criticism for Antim as well so I will take those notes down and will work on getting better. I am just a student. I never claim to be an actor. I am trying to learn, sometimes you get it right, sometimes you miss,” he added.
Also featuring Nikitin Dheer, popular TV actor Mahima Makwana, and Pragya Jaiswal, who predominantly works in Telugu movies, Antim is set to be released globally in theatres on November 26.