Interview By: Devanshee Singh

Gashmeer Mahajani’s latest Hindi film is ‘Dongri Ka Raja’ which has released this week. He is a renowned actor of Marathi cinema who is now all set for Bollywood. Let’s have a look on our quick chat:

“I believe that your work should create impact and affect people. It could be in a positive way or a negative way”

Please tell me about your character and the movie.

It’s a love story based on the backdrop of underworld. So, there is not much gang war. People usually feel that it’s gangster flick which it isn’t. It’s a love story with a backdrop of underworld because the protagonist Raja that I am playing is a sharp shooter for an underworld don and it’s his love story. So, that is the only place where you see the underworld but otherwise we have put our hand into that. If we talk of my character, Raja is me, I am Raja. That’s all I can say. I don’t understand studying characters which don’t exist because I don’t understand how you can study something that does not exist. If somebody can teach in the future, it will be great. 

 Then what about some particular traits and attributes of a character?

Those are my attributes and traits. One thing I always believe in is no matter which ever clothes I wear whether I wear businessman’s clothes or a khaki wardi or a gangster’s clothes or a peon’s uniform, the person inside is always going to be me. And as an actor I feel that it is a fact that actor should accept. The moment you try to gather attributes and traits from outside, it becomes mimicry for me at least. It becomes fake and it shows on screen. So that honesty is lost. Whether you make me a gangster, still I am going to react the way I react. So, I have to find a part of Raja in to me but that will always going to be me. 

 What made you to get on board for this film?

What clicked me about this film is that the moment I stepped into this office for the first day, Hadi Ali Abrar called me for narration. He saw me for the for the time and called out our writer “Salim bhai, bahar aa jao, Ye dekho Dongri Ka Raja aa gya”. So, see, what he is seeing is he is seeing Raja in me. Why would anybody want me to fake some attributes? Everything will be me and I am the Raja. You are only putting me in certain situation or circumstances in which I have not been earlier. I have not been a gangster. So, when somebody asks me that how many percent of you is Raja, I feel it is 95% of me. 5% is not because I am not a gangster. I have to myself in the shoes of Raja in a way that I am a sharp shooter. I have to go out and kill a couple of people because that’s the part of my job. That’s what I have been taught from the age of five in the film. That is what I am going to put myself into. 

You have also worked in Marathi cinema.  How working in Bollywood film is different from Marathi film?

Only language is the difference. The medium is the same. A bit of scale also differs. I am attached to Marathi because it’s my mother tongue and I am attached to Hindi because as an artist you always want more people to watch your work. So, Hindi gives you that scope. Hindi is PAN India; everybody across India is going to watch you.

How theatre helped you in excelling your acting craft?

Movies and theatre are two different mediums. People usually approach theatre because they think that then they will able to perform better in films because they are a theatre artist. These are totally unrelated things. If you do theatre it helps you as a human being and as an actor. It helps you explore sides of you which you don’t know of yourself. They are somewhere inside you. You start exploring different sides when you start doing same things over and over again in every show that you do, it helps you grow as a person. That is where it ends. Now that is not going to help you in front of the camera. Cinema is a different technique. You have to adapt to it. You have to learn and understand it. Then you can perform there. There are many examples who are brilliant theatre performers and have become successful actors in cinema. But I will give you ten times more examples where there are even more brilliant performers, they are brilliant than most of the cinema actors also in theatre but they completely fail in cinema. It’s everybody’s personal temperament and parameters that you put up for yourself. That is not going to help you to work in cinema but it’s going to help you as person and as an actor individually. How well you adapt to the craft will define your success ratio.

Any of the memorable moment from the whole shooting experience which you would like to share with us.

While shooting romantic number “Piya Tu Piya”, I was having fever of 103 F. We were shooting that in the middle of sea on a boat and I have to be bare bodied. I have to do intimate and love scenes there with Reecha, the actress. Fever was not going down and doctor came to give me injections. But injections also didn’t work. Those three nights were most excruciating in my life and I still remember when I use to hug Reecha, she use to say “You are burning”.

How you want audience to receive your work?

I believe that your work should create impact and affect people. It could be in a positive way or a negative way. So, I only want people to either love me or hate me, I am okay with both. But if anybody’s says he is okay yaar, he is fine. That is a dangerous position to be in. That means your work is not affecting them in any way. As an actor, that is out and out losing position. You have to affect them. Let it be negative and let them hate you from bottom of the heart but that means your work affected them in some way. There are lovers and haters and middle part should be empty.

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