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On April 15, Bollywood movie fans will be treated to a new face chosen by Oscar-winner AR Rahman. Meet Ehan Bhat from Kashmir who beat 700 other actor hopefuls to land a leading role in ’99 Songs’, out in the UAE cinemas this weekend.
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We caught up with Bhat to know about his journey as an actor. He calls his breakthrough role as this spectacular ‘dream debut’. “I started out as a new actor in this industry completely. But imagined being nurtured under the guidance of Rahman sir! I was studying in his Chennai conservatory for over a year. But it felt like home away from home. He’s an amazing human being and he believed in me, so I had to work hard to carry forward his dream,” said Bhat in an interview with Gulf News.
Image Credit: Instagram.com/ehanbhat/
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Bhat is the portrait of an outsider who made it on his own steam. He wasn’t born into an acting family nor boasted any connections with the film industry. He had featured in a few commercials before getting his big break. “Every day was a fight in itself because I had to live up to his legacy. So I trained in music for a year and Sir [AR Rahman] sent me to Los Angeles to polish my acting skills. This is something no producer will do. Sometimes, I pinch myself to remind myself that it’s all happening for real. I don’t come from a film background. It means a lot to get this chance.”
Image Credit: Instagram.com/ehanbhat/?hl=en
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AR Rahman, who discovered Bhat, believes it was destiny that he chose an actor from Kashmir to play the lead in his first production. The icon believes that Bhat will serve as an inspiration to all those from his native region, which has seen several conflicts. ‘99 Songs’ was first announced in 2015, but years were spent perfecting his ‘labour of love’.
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Bhat claims that the film industry can be a tough place to survive. Your first acting break could take years to materialise. “Every day you have to fight the uncertainties of this profession. There are day when you wake up and you feel that life is on your side and other days where you feel life is working against you. Sometimes, you see a future and other time, you go: ‘Where am I?’. So, I just waited for that break and it finally happened and I am forever grateful,” said Bhat.
Image Credit: Instagram.com/ehanbhat
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Unlike star kids such as Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan, Shanaya Kapoor or Janhvi Kapoor, Bhat wasn’t groomed to become an actor until AR Rahman and his team saw promise and potential in him. “But honestly, there was a lot of prep time. When I was sent to his music school in Chennai, I met all these musicians who would talk about their craft and their bands. They were a community that I could learn a lot from. This is an opportunity that not many actors will ever get,” said Bhat.
Image Credit: Instagram.com/aliabhatt, Instagram.com/varundvn, Twitter.com/karanjohar and Instagram.com/janhvikapoor
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Bhat insists that he doesn’t play a troubled musician in this one. “My character in ’99 Songs’ is passionate, kind and he only wants two things in his life: music and the girl he loves … When I was looking for an inspiration, it just came to me that Rahman sir is the kindest, passionate person that I know,” said Bhat.
Image Credit: Instagram/JioStudios
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He may play a musician in ’99 Songs’, but he claims he wasn’t naturally inclined towards songs or musical instruments. He had to learn everything from scratch. “I love listening to music, but while training for this role I realised how difficult it is to make music or just that one song. I have such immense respect for musicians now.”
Image Credit: Instagram/EhanBhat
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His debut film ’99 Songs’ will be out in the UAE cinemas on Thursday.
Image Credit: Instagram/Ehan Bhat