Bollywood actor Aayush Sharma, who is superstar Salman Khan’s brother-in-law, is in a tough spot. He’s well aware that all his career moves will always be seen through the prism of privilege and unfair access. But he isn’t willing to let that bog him down.
In the second film of his career ‘Antim: The Final Truth’, out in UAE cinemas on November 25, Sharma plays the antagonist Rahuliya who takes on the fierce turban-clad Sikh cop (Khan).
“Many may think it’s a family affair but let’s face the truth here: for any actor this is a big opportunity. Standing in a poster with Salman Khan is one of those rare opportunities where any actor would grab it and just hug it close. I have worked very hard here,” said Sharma in an interview with Gulf News.
Directed by Mahesh Manjrekar, Sharma — who’s married to Khan’s younger sister Arpita — is the paragon of pure evil and sadism in his new film.
“He’s someone who has been wronged in his life and is determined to wrong everyone else around him … He doesn’t have this need to be liked. He doesn’t care about pleasantries and he just doesn’t care,” the actor said.
This role is diametrically different from his 2018 romance debut ‘Loveyatri’, produced by Salman Khan Films, which has also backed his second feature.
Here’s his take on…
Playing a role different from the one in ‘Loveyatri’:
“I enjoyed the process of learning through this role. I am not an actor, but I am a student of acting. This was a role that gave me a lot to experiment. It was a stark contrast from what I have done before and this role helped me explore the actor within me.”
His role in ‘Antim: The Final Truth’:
“I was a little anxious initially that Rahuliya’s role might turn out too grey and dark, but Salman and Mahesh sir made sure that this role translates well … It’s been a three-year-journey for me with this film. Everybody is just talking about my physical transformation, but I did that for cinematic purposes alone. I wanted to look believable as a menacing character. But being in his mental space was more challenging. I had to understand the madness and intimidation tactics employed by Rahuliya. He’s different from me in real life. This role was like going to a film school and learning from the titans in the industry.”
Being miscast as a villain as he’s known for his baby-face and kind demeanour:
“Initially, I had that fear too and wondered if I would be effortlessly convincing in this menacing role ... During the pre-production phase, I even shaved my head bald to see if I looked scary or intimidating, but many felt I looked fashionable instead. So, I didn’t come across as disturbed even then! But I soon realised that I can’t do anything about my face which has an innocence about it, but I can work on my mind space. Mahesh sir also reminded me that villains in real-life don’t necessarily look evil … My character is not about physicality alone. I may look like a lean-mean machine, but I also enjoyed getting beaten up. There’s a psychological battle here too … In the first few days of filming, Mahesh sir just asked me to abuse everyone vehemently as the whole set watched. After some time, I could abuse with a smile on my face.”
Physical transformations such as bulking up:
“For three years, I worked out at noon and did hours and hours of cardio and weight training outdoors… Salman Khan sir is a superstar of a different league and I knew there has to some degree of believability when we both take off our shirts or else it will come across as comical. I gained 16 kilos for this role and I was on this constant routine. More than me, it was difficult for my family. If I travelled to Dubai or elsewhere, I had to check into a hotel with a particular kind of gym and a chef who made protein-rich food. Even if I were fully sore, I had to train without fail — sometimes even twice a day. It wasn’t easy.”
His biggest lesson from his famous acting family:
“Early on my career, my father-in-law [Salim Khan] told me that when somebody buys a ticket for a film, I shouldn’t treat that person as a fan. Treat him as a person who has earned that money and has set aside a few hours of his day to watch my film. He’s coming to pay respect to you in the theatre, he told me and that I should never take any viewer for granted.”
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‘Antim: The Final Truth’ releases in UAE cinemas on November 25.