The youngest actor in India to be nominated for Best Actor alongside Shah Rukh Khan, Darsheel Safary established new levels of acting excellence for a child actor in Taare Zameen Par. After some significant roles as a juvenile in Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children and Priyadarshan’s Bumm Bumm Bhole, Darsheel is now back to his chosen vocation. Darsheel tells Subhash K Jha his future plans.
Darsheel, it’s tough to believe you are now all grown up?
Ha ha. Yes. I am 19 now. Though I am still recognized as the kid from Taare Zameen Par(TZP) the memory has now blurred, thankfully
You mean you don’t enjoy being recognized for TZP any more?
No , not that. Of course I still love the fame that TZP got me. But nobody pulls my cheeks any more. I am accepted as a grownup now. People ask, ‘Hey, aren’t you that kid from TZP?’ And that’s about it.
What have you been up to since TZP and the other films you did as a child?
After my phase as a child actor I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to continue as an actor. I wasn’t sure of ANYTHING. My Dad told me to take a clean break from acting. In Class 11 and 12 I just enjoyed my school and friends and studies.
Then the acting bug bit you again?
Yup. Once an actor always an actor, In college I found myself doing a lot of amateur theatre, also 30-35 street plays. I was hooked. I knew I wanted to be nothing but an actor now.
How did you the chance to do the play that you are going to be doing at the National Centre Of Performing Arts?
I was coming to that. When the director Abhishek Pattnaik offered me a chance to share theatre space with stalwarts like Dalip Tahil and Ananth Mahadevan in a play called Can I Help You? I didn’t have to think very hard before accepting the offer. This was just the kind of challenge I was looking for to take me into mature acting.
Tell me about your role?
I play a character called Rikhab who is an aggressive fast bowler. I know fast bowlers are aggressive any way. But Rikhab’s aggression goes beyond the cricket field. He is angry, he is resentful, he ‘s seething from inside…until something happens to him. The character has fantastic growth during the course of the play. I feel very lucky to have got this role.
Are you familiar with cricket?
Of course .I’ve played a gulli cricket all my life. So I am definitely the right person to play a fast bowler.
Are you looking at a career in Bollywood ?
Oh absolutely. But I am not in a hurry. I am only 19. I won’t sign a predictable teenybopper debut where I have to dance and sing and romance a chick. I want a debut as a leading man that would be a worthy follow-up toTaare Zameen Par. In the meanwhile I am committed to my play for two years .
What if you are offered a film during that period?
I will be free to do films as and when I like. But I hope the play has a long life.We’re starting in Mumbai on September 18. Then we go to other cities. Hopefully we’ll take it abroad as well.