Aftab Shivdasani is a renowned Bollywood actor, mostly known for his comic roles. He started his career from Ram Gopal Varma’s Mast (1999). Prior to Mast, he has worked in many hit movies as a child artist. He finds himself in a space where he has enjoyed a fair bit of creditability and experience but he still have a lot of passion to embrace more quality work. His some of hit movies are Kasoor, Hungama, Masti, Grand Masti and many more. In an exclusive interview with Yogesh Mishra, he spoke about his fond memories as a child artist, first break as a lead actor, favourite Bollywood actor, view point on ‘comedy’ and more…
Can you define yourself in one line?
I am someone who believes in growth. I aspire to constantly evolve and seek partnerships that help me do that.
When did you realise first that you should try your luck in acting?
I was a child artist and I enjoyed being in front of the camera since the age of 7. It was during my growing up years that I realised it would be cinema or nothing at all. I never considered any option whatsoever. It was my true calling of sorts.
Have you chosen acting profession by your own or influenced by the family member(s)?
I was never pressurised by family as I don’t hail from a film family. I started to act by coincidence and then one thing led to another. It was a decision that just happened and I loved what I did and there has been no looking back ever since.
You have worked in many movies as a child artist. Any fond memory as a child artist?
Yes I did work in a few films as a child actor. First of which was the epic Mr. India where I played one of the kids. I have such beautiful memories from the sets. I did a lot of my home work from school while on sets as my parents were always very conscious that my education shouldn’t suffer. But the experience of working with great actors like Anil Kapoor, Sridevi, and Amrish Puri is something I will always cherish. It taught me how to aspire to be a good actor
Where do you find yourself as an actor?
I find myself in a space where I have enjoyed a fair bit of creditability and experience but I still have a lot of passion to embrace more quality work. The universe has been kind and so has the audiences for which I’m ever so grateful. I feel that the journey has not even begun after 55 films! I’m constantly seeking new experiences and challenges and it’s very easy to write for actors in a competing industry but I feel I’ve contributed to the industry, built a repertoire and still have miles to go before I sleep.
You are mostly known for your comic roles in movies. What is ‘comedy’ according to you?
Comedy according to me is the ability to laugh at yourself and be okay with the idea of others laughing at you. It’s a genre that teaches you how to not take yourself seriously. I personally love to laugh hence I enjoy it! But technically speaking, when you are doing a comic scene it is vital to understand the mood of the scene and get the timing right as sometimes you have to do things repeatedly and then there is a possibility of it looking very rehearsed or monotonous which can make it fall flat instead of making others laugh. Also it’s very important to know what is the pitch of the performance during a scene as it shouldn’t go over or under what’s required as that too may not be effective.
Who is your favourite Bollywood actor and why?
Mr. Bachchan, as he’s the most accomplished and grounded actor in my opinion. He is someone who is versatile and has a phenomenal understanding of the craft and is so inspiring with everything that he does. His humility, passion and his hard-working nature is always so motivational. He’s the stuff that legends are made of!
What do you do when feel low?
I keep myself occupied. I either indulge in sports, fitness, music or just like spending time with my loved ones. My wife, Nin Dusanj keeps my grounded all the time and is a great source of strength and solace for me.
How do you manage your personal and professional life together?
Like any other job, one has to draw a balance between professional and personal commitments. My profession is a little more unpredictable than others because of the timings and that there are no fixed hours sometimes and that can be trying sometimes. The concept of a weekend off does not apply to it. I am a very home bound person so I spend most of my spare time with my loved ones as I miss them the most when I’m working. There are times that I work for months at a stretch without an off and then I can get weeks off too. Luckily for me, my family understands that about the profession and is very accommodating
As an actor what changes did you see in the last few years in Bollywood?
One of the most conspicuous change is in the kind of scrips / subjects that are being made. They are very progressive and edgy. It’s also a good time as on one hand conventional commercial entertainers are tasting success as well as cutting edge content is being accepted by the audiences. The audiences are welcoming content first and then the actors which is great for actors who want to experiment with content.
At the age of 76, living legend Amitabh Bachchan is still rocking. What is your opinion about him?
He is an inspiration to so many generations of actors. Anything said about him is less. May God bless him with great health and happiness always for being such an inspiration to so many and setting a benchmark.
Given a chance, would you like to try your luck in politics?
I don’t think it is my cup of tea as I want to focus on acting as that’s what I’m most passionate about. The day I decide I’ve had enough, I will think of other stuff to keep myself occupied. Politics is something that requires knowledge and skill set and I’m not educated in the art to successfully run a constituency.
You could be an inspiration for many aspiring actors. Any message for them?
I consider myself fortunate if I’m an inspiration to young actors. My only advice would be to never stop believing in yourself regardless of what the world would says. Failure is only when you give up. So as long as you pursue your passions, you’re never a failure.
What are your upcoming movies?
I just appeared in Ashwini Chaudhary’s Setters which fared well critically. I have been getting a lot of offers but currently it’s grey that excites me. I have finalised three scripts that have been narrated to me. But they haven’t been announced yet by the production houses so I cannot say too much about them at this point. I will wait for the production houses to make the announcement. I’m also doing work in the South now and will have some exciting news on the Hollywood front too.
What are your long-term future plans?
I live each day by the moment. I don’t think too much of the future. For me success is when I can enjoy each moment fully in the present. I don’t regret the past nor do I fret about the future. I just try to enjoy the present. But yes I hope to expand and grow!
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