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I never attended any acting school: Ishaan Khattar

Subhash K . Jha

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Ishaan Khatter and Malavika Mohanan at Sun n Sand Hotel, Mumbai, to promote their upcoming film 'Beyond The Cloud' Pic Credit: Viral Bayani

Ishaan Khattar Who Makes  His  Stunning Debut In Majid Majidi’s Beyond The Clouds Speaks To  Subhash K Jha On  What Cinema & Acting Mean  To Him.

 Ishaan, I believe you chose not to be  a trained actor?

That’s right.  I never attended any acting school, though I’ve done theatre workshops a couple  of time and  it has been an extremely enriching  experience.  But beyond that I don’t want to acquire the skills of  acting and use them on  camera. I’d rather learn on the  job.

Yes, which acting school did Mr Dilip Kumar go to?

Wasn’t he from a very humble background with no connection to cinema  or acting? Even my director Majid Majidi came from a very humble background. He trained  to be  an actor and could’ve become  a leading star of Iran after acting in talked-about films  like Boycott. But he chose to direct films. Some of them , which are  today regarded as classics, had such a meager budgets there was hardly any money for proper meals for the crew. But he  stuck on. I believe  it’s always important to listen  to the call  of your heart.

Is that what you  intend to do in your career?

I will try.I don’t think I can live a life of compromise. If I did I wouldn’t be  able to sleep properly.Not that I am getting much sleep anyway(laughs).

Are you  planning to do  as many films as possible? Or would your output be meager  like your brother Shahid Kapoor?

I will do all the films that I  want to do. If I  like the script I may end up doing  five films at the same time, though I think that would be too much overlapping. I  don’t know how actors  of  yesteryears  managed to do three shifts every day.

Right now  it  is  the release  of one  film and the shooting of  the other?

Yes ,while I am promoting Beyond The Clouds we’ve almost wrapped up the  shooting  of  my second film Dhadak. They happened one after the other by  providence. I could’ve ended  up not doing one  of  them if my producer Karan  Johar had  not been so supportive.

How did that happen?

 My debut film was  going to be  Karan Johar’s production Dhadak. The dates schedules  everything was  worked out. I was ready to shoot for Dhadak when I was offered A  Walk In The Clouds.

I believe you were the first  and  only choice?

Majid Sir had considered others.  But once Honey Sir(casting director Honey Trehan) came on board  it was  more or less me that Majid Sir wanted .He saw my auditions and  told Honey Sir to cast me. That’s when I was  placed in a dilemma. If Karan Sir had not agreed  to  push his film forward….

He actually postponed Dhadak to accommodate Majid Majidi’s film?

Yes! I went  to  him with my problem. I  told  him very honestly that I didn’t want  to miss  out on the  opportunity to do Majid Majidi’s film. Karan Sir heard me  out and agreed  to postpone Dhadak for me to do Beyond The Clouds. I suppose it was  just my good fortune that I  didn’t miss  out  on such an opportunity.

Now that  A Walk In The  Clouds is ready for release, what are your thoughts on it?

Exactly the same that I had before  I started shooting. Thank god I didn’t miss  out on doing the film.And now look at providence. Dhadak is releasing on  the same date, 20th that  it was supposed to  earlier when it was  planned as my debut.

Was  there a  lot of preparation involved?

Well, I had to lose 8 ½ kilos almost overnight  before shooting  for Beyond The clouds. Since I was playing a boy from the chawls Majid Sir wanted  me  to look undernourished. I stopped going to the gym  to get the physique required.This(not going to the gym) was  very unusual since  it was an instinctive part of my daily routine.

What about the  spoken language ?

Yes , for that I took the help of  Akaash the  actor who plays my best friend Anil. He’s a rapper. I   hung around with  him and his friends  to get a hang of the way they talk.

It is interesting that  both the  characters you play in Beyond The Clouds and  Dhadak are from a strata  of society far removed from you. Did you find it difficult to connect with them?

The whole  notion of acting hinges  on assuming  unknown characters. Isn’t that what  I am here  for? It was a challenge doing these two  films as my  debut and post-debut. I hope I’ve  done what was  required from me.

Did you use the same  body type for  both roles?

 No  no. For Dhadak (director) Shashank Khaitan Sir wanted me to  bulk up  a bit, to look like  an average guy.

How has your  brother Shahid and mother(actress-dancer Neelima Azim) reacted to  your performance  in Beyond The Clouds?

My  mother is  my best friend and  my biggest  critic.When she saw my performance  she had one things to say which said  it all. “Who are  you?”  It was her way of telling me I had disappeared  into the  character.I have  to thank my mother for bringing me up on a  regular diet of Hindi and  American classic  films. We’ve been travelling together extensively for the promotion and  screening of Beyond The Clouds. It’s an enriching experience. I feel I am being exposed to all kinds of cinema at  a very young age. It’s helping me grow as an actor.

Janhavi Kapoor and Ishaan

Janhavi Kapoor and Ishaan

What was Shahid’s reaction to your performance?

You know,  for  the longest time he couldn’t watch the film because he was busy with Padmaavat. Finally I had to ask Majid Sir to organize  a private screening for Bhai.  Normally Majid Sir doesn’t  arrange  private screenings for anyone.  But he  made an exception for Bhai.  It was just my mother, Bhai and I.

And?

It was  one  of  the  most memorable events  of my life. Bhai didn’t say  anything. When the  film was over he took an angdaai(stretch and  yawn) and then gave me a look expressing what he felt. That  look said it all.It meant the world to me. I’ve always looked  up to Bhai.And I continue to seek his advice.

Are you prepared  for the comparisons  with  Shahid?

They’ve already  started.  It can’t be helped. We are  brothers and  people will try to see similarities between us.I don’t mind. Because on a personal level I’ve always looked up to him.

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