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Until his debut film Love Yatri was rolled out last Thursday in the UAE, Bollywood hopeful Aayush Sharma was popularly known as superstar Salman Khan’s brother-in-law.

But the 32-year-old let us in on his sporting personality when he visited the Gulf News office on Tuesday afternoon. In less than 30 minutes, the amiable and level-headed actor proved that there’s more to him than his infamous in-laws.

Sharma, who plays a garbha [Indian folk dance] teacher in his latest romance Love Yathi even taught a couple of Gulf News staffers his signature moves with dandiya sticks provided by us.

I was a terrible dancer and my wife always implored me not to dance at parties… So for this role, Vaibhavi [Merchant, choreographer] trained me for six hours every day for six months.”

“It’s an exciting time for me. My film has come out and the reviews have come out… some good and some bad. And I am learning to get used to the fact that I am in the world of movies now,” said Sharma in an interview held in our newsroom. He plays an unambitious dance teacher whose world alters when he meets the woman of his dreams.

Here’s Sharma’s take on scathing reviews that came his way after Love Yatri’s release, nepotism, fatherhood and his doting wife Arpita Khan’s famous brother Salman Khan …

On reading reviews of Love Yathi that have been ranged from kind to bitingly unkind:

“Honestly, I am not affected by those reviews because it is the critic’s job to criticise. I am happy with the response that I am getting from the audience. The public reviews have been good and that is what matters. As a debutante, I didn’t want to break box office records. My hope was that maximum people watch Love Yatri and walk out with a smile... Every opinion should be respected. And if I can’t laugh at myself, there’s no humour left, right? On Friday when I woke up, some gave me three stars and some gave one star. I was a little low because I felt we made a sweet love story… I was feeling down and that’s when my wife [Arpita Khan] took me to the Chandan theatre in Mumbai and I saw people were dancing to Chogada song at the end. And that’s when I realised that this was my audience. Whether you give me one or zero star, you cannot take this away from me. And when I told Salman bhai [brother] about the reviews, he told me that he has never made films for critical appreciation. That’s when I began reading all my reviews in a more humorous way. By Saturday, I had moved on.”

On whether tender, innocent romances such as the one documented in Love Yatri is relevant in today’s age:

“Some reviewers felt that there was not enough conflict in this film between us [the lead couple]... But we are not here to make a DDLJ [Shah Rukh Khan’s classic love story Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge] or a Jodhaa Akbar [Hrithik Roshan’s sweeping period romance]. We wanted a relatable love story. The issues that couples face today is not about going against their parents or the society. The issue is between them… Couples today break up over smallest of issues. We wanted to keep Love Yatri simple and I still stand by it. I am a 90s kid who believes in love at first sight.”

On being a hopeless romantic and his real-life love story with his wife Arpita:

“I have a beautiful wife who takes care of me and has stood by me through thick and thin. She’s my manager, my mentor and is also handling my work. The best part is that she’s an amazing mother to my son too... Love is paramount in my life.”

On his son being a paparazzi magnet:

“The day he was born, his picture went viral on the internet… I believe he’s lucky. He’s just two and a half and he gets so much love from all around. People remember him by his face because he’s a part of Salman bhai’s family. It’s a trickle-down effect and I have never had a bad experience with the media when it comes to Ahil.”

On whether being Salman’s brother-in-law worked in his favour or not:

“I wonder if critics would have been less harsh had I not been Salman Khan’s brother-in-law. There were many critics who didn’t review the film but were busy equating me with him. I understand that he’s the producer of Love Yatri but when someone says that he failed to present me well, it isn’t right as he isn’t the director. There are positives and negatives here. The positive is that having him by my side has given me an opening in [millions]. Not all newcomers can boast of that. With a big film like Venom releasing the same week and with four films colliding on the big screens this week, I have still managed to make a mark. It is Salman bhai’s fans who have supported it. If his name wasn’t attached, why would anyone go watch a film with a new actor, actress and director?”

Out now

Love Yatri is currently showing across the UAE.