Darsheel Safary Speaks To Subhash K Jha On  10  Years Of Taare Zameen Par


Hey Darsheel, how does  it feel?

You mean  to be still called Ishaan (the character  in Taare Zameen Par) and  to have  people tell me the film changed their lives? It feels great. I am so proud  of what I achieved in  TaareZameen Par(TZP). Though let me tell you, I had no clue what I was doing.

What  do  you mean?

I was only 9. All of 9!!! And I had no idea about camera, cinema , acting. No one from my family was part  of the movies. I still don’t know why Aamirji(Khan) and Amoleji(Gupte) chose me. But there I was, playing a character whose problems were completely alien to me. So I did what any child would do in my place. I surrendered completely to  Amoleji who had written the film and knew the character  inside-out, and  Aamirji who handled me  with kid’s gloves.

 How  do you feel when you see yourself in TZP now?

I saw the  film just a month ago with my  parents and  sister. And you  know what? I  could see  things that I could’ve done better. Now that I am trained as an actor I know the craft. But perhaps the lack of craft made Ishan so real. I didn’t fake anything. When Ishan cried, I cried with him. Those were real tears.

I remember you were nominated for the Best Actor alongside Shah Rukh Khan in ChakDe.You were the youngest best-actor nominee in India?

Looking back that was amazing….yeah! But back then I was clueless. I went through all the experiences  of TZP without really enjoying it. When I see Sunny Pawar in Lion on stage  at the awards I know exactly how he feels.

Do people still pinch your cheeks?

(laughs loudly). No no. I put an end  to that quite firmly some years ago. Their first reaction on seeing me now is, ‘My God, you’re all grown up.’ As if they expect me to be a 9-year oldIshan all my life. Their second reaction is, ‘You got your teeth straightened’. They say that with disappointment  as  if they wanted me to have buckteeth all my life.

Curiously you did  other pivotal roles as a  child actor in Priyadarshan’s  Bum Bum Bholeand Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children. But they made no impact. Do you feel TZP became  an unbeatable benchmark?

It probably was that, I don’t know. I certainly feel the films you mention were chosen for me by my parents because they seemed right for me. We didn’t set out to beat TZP.And I am glad we didn’t. Because I don’t think TZP can be repeated. None of us knew it was going to have such an impact. Even  today I’ve kids telling me  they were going to be sent toboardingschool. But after seeing TZP their parents changed their mind.

Ten years  after TZP how do you look back on the experience?

 Have ten  years really passed? The movie is fresh in everyone’s mind.TZP is one of those films that keep coming on television.

Now that you’re all grownup whose advice do you take ? Are Aamir and Amole still in touch?

You know what? At some point in your life you’ve to take  responsibility for your own future. I decided to  do that some years ago. When I knew I wanted to be an actor I started  doing theatre. I still do. In fact I’ve a performance in Shillong next week

You are also ready to make your debut as a leading man?

Yes!It a coming-of-age romcom called Quickie,  directed by Pradip Atluri. You heard  right.It’s called Quickie. Do you want more proof that I am grown up?It was meant to start this year. But we got delayed. We  now start early next year.

 Lots  of phenomenal child actors grow up to be non-starters as adult actors. Any fears?

What about Kamal Haasan and Sridevi?  Weren’t they  child actors? And  look at where they are now. Having said  that, no one can  predict anyone’s future. Audiences won’t come to see my in Quickie because I was Ishan in TZP. But neither will they stay away from my films just because  I was that child in  a film they loved. So  I stand an even chance.

Tell me about your girlfriend?

Sorry, can’t hear you…Okay I can. I was just pretending. The day I am capable of shouldering  the responsibilities that come with a relationship, I am game. Right now I am too focused  on  my career.

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