Interview By: ANKITA R. KANABAR

Aparshakti Khurrana who was quite appreciated in this year’s gem ‘Stree’ admits that none of them expected this kind of reaction to the film. From being an RJ to anchor and now actor, Aparshakti has also come a long way and only wishes to continue on this path. Here we speak to him about the success of ‘Stree’, how has radio helped him as an actor, amidst more…

‘Stree’ garnered so much appreciation from all over. Did you expect this sort of a reaction?
When we were shooting this, none of us knew this will happen to the film. When you make a film with all heart, it does work. What happens is, when you try too hard and make a film with the numbers in mind, it never works. But if it happens organically and you’re just doing your job, things shape up on their own and the film connects with the audience. That’s what happened with this film. Most of the people attached to the film, from every department were so honest, so real that the entire set was full of positivity and that reflected on-screen.

Also, it’s not often that a film which does 100-crore is equally appreciated by the every one unanimously – so what’s the most satisfying feedback for you?
The most satisfying feedback came from Nitesh sir, my director of ‘Dangal’ – a film which gave me so much – he said, ‘Apar, I’m very proud of you.’ Then Vikram sir (Vikramadtiya Motwane) messaged as well. When seniors from the industry message you, you just go back home, sit down and thank the almighty that you’re doing something with all your heart and it’s paying off. You feel that you hope you continue to do great work in life.

‘Dangal’ obviously was a turning point for you, and now ‘Stree’ – how important are these successes for your confidence?
More than the numbers, something which really gives me a lot of confidence and I’m sure it will also give a certain longevity to my craft is that – both ‘Dangal’ and ‘Stree’ are completely different worlds. They both are different worlds, characters and languages. And thankfully, I’ve been able to justify my parts in both these films so that gives me a lot of satisfaction and confidence. People who I am currently working with, or will work in the future, they will also get a certain vibe from me, that I would be able to do justice to the role they’ve given me. If that happens to you, at any point in your career, you feel satisfied, contented, and confident about yourself that if I keep on working hard then you have a future as an actor.

Being an RJ involves having a certain connectivity with the listeners. Does that help further as an actor to connect to your audience?
In the past 2 years since ‘Dangal’ released, this is the first time someone asked this to me, but I often talk about that to friends and family that radio has helped me a lot. I was connecting through my audience, only through my voice. Radio made me a people’s person. Radio is a very different medium. As a radio jockey, there’s a relationship built between you and your listeners even though you’ve never seen each other’s face. Recently, now RJs are there on Instagram so people can see their face but until a few years ago. But few years back, when there was no social media, people use to call RJs every day and spend 2-3 hours of their day listening to them. And when they call us and say this is the song they want to hear, then, you realise what kind of mood they are in. Someday, that person is low, someday, energetic. We as RJs understand their taste, moods. It’s like a personal connect and friendship formed. I’m in touch with my radio listeners and I have 5-10 contacts also in my phone list who are my listeners earlier and now I’m friends with them. Even the people I was working with, I need to give credit to them for my creative development. When I joined radio, I was in a very raw state. My creative sensibilities were not as well-explored as they are today. The creative learning happened only on radio, through the radio friends, fraternity and listeners.

While on radio, you could only express through voice…now, there are more tools of expressions on camera. Do you feel more creative liberated as well?
It’s just that the ROI (return on investment) is less in radio than as an actor. You don’t get that kind of appreciation or reach as a radio jockey, as much as you do as an actor. An RJ in Delhi, will only be famous in Delhi. As an actor you connect on a PAN India basis. Because the reach is better, ROI is better, the satisfaction is greater. Having said that, I never regretted going to my radio station, 12-14 hours a day. I was equally happy. I didn’t have days of struggle. I had the most amazing time in radio. In today’s day and age, there are various tools of expressing creativity. Someone is a TV host and an actor, a musician and actor. Life is such that you want to make the most of everything. Sometimes just one thing can get monotonous as well. So, it’s great to have various outlets.

How do you see yourself now in the kind of films you’ll be seen in?
I never planned earlier as well. Even today I have not planned. My mantra has always been to work with nice, positive people who have a creative sense of mind where I can learn something – be it a live show, or a TV show that I’m going to host, or a film. If I connect with them, I work with them. There have been times where I’ve declined some things with good money or good roles but because I could not just connect with their sensibilities. I was able to take that decision because, I was not looking for quantity of my role, I was only looking for quality. It’s always better to be a part of good script even if it’s a smaller role, than to have a bigger role in not so good film. I was wise enough to take those decisions, I think Ayushmann has helped me be patient. Younger ones in the family are impatient, but he has helped me stay grounded and patient.

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