Interview By: DRISHTI PANDEY

Shreyas Talpade has shown his acting skills in films like ‘Iqbal’, ‘Welcome To Sajjanpur’, ‘Om Shanti Om’, ‘Golmaal Returns’ and ‘Dor’. Now he’s all set with Ajit Sinha’s ‘Wah Taj’ in which he’s playing a hardcore Maharashtrian character. Catch him in a tete-a-tete with us as he speaks about the film, having spent years in the industry and more…

“Eventually it’s a business and you have to perform at the box-office”

How did ‘Wah Taj’ happen to you?

Starting point is basically the story. I had asked my writer how did he come up with this idea which is so unique and so original, so he said when he went to Agra and visited Taj Mahal, he was talking around with people and suddenly a thought crossed his mind that this land on which Taj Mahal has been built must be someone’s land and if it was then who the person must have been? And whoever the land must be of, does that person know about it? If the person comes to know what will he do? So this was the thought which came in his mind and then he told our director and prepared the story. Then when he came and narrated me the one line I was also very entreat and wondered it surely must have been someone’s land and who he must have been, so he narrated me saying assume if there’s a Maharashtrian farmer who goes there and claims that it’s his land so what will happen? Then when he narrated it to me; the whole  film was in front of my eye and then I thought it completely makes sense because the way he told me it made complete sense to me as an actor. I think if any person is given a full plate of good food in it, everything ready, definitely that person wouldn’t say a no; so it was exactly the same when he offered me this film. The character has so much depth and the graph is so strong and it has so many shades to it and also it has so many variations. To add to it, it’s a Maharashtra backdrop. So there were a lot of rows for me to do this character.

What’s unique is your character this time? How did you prepare for it?
Uniqueness is in the fact that there is some character like Tukaram Marathe, who goes and does something like this and obliviously for such a character there are going to be oppositions, there are going to be obstacles. So how does he come across those obstacles and face the oppositions? This was very different for me as an actor. So when we thought that he’s a Maharashtraian character, when his talking in Hindi also he will still have a little bit accent of Marathi, if you have seen a lot of people from Maharashtra interior who haven got out of there and suddenly if the person goes to U.P and have to interact out there in Hindi so his Hindi will also be kind of like Marathi. We also wanted to make sure that Marathi accent is there in Hindi so a Hindi speaking audience to understand it, because if we had to do that with more Marathi accent then people might not understand so we wanted to keep the flavor and not spoil the fun.

Do you think production houses are now being set up especially to cater the small budget unconventional cinema?

It’s very good, in fact now the digital is the future. As we see all movies on big screen and on the phones we see it illegally. So there will be a time when films will be released digitally only. So then it will be only content driven films like if it has a good content and it will be just an hour or so; so I guess there will be more audience to that. And I have a strong belief that no film is good or bad but its budget goes wrong, because for a movie like ‘Wah Taj’ we can’t be spending 20 to 30 crores. That’ a different thing that if the film works out good it might earn more than its budget; but as a film we make it for certain audiences so I think its budget and publicity budget should be according to it. Beside that, if people like the film, then of course sky is the limit. On the other hand if it’s a massive film like a Salman Khan starrer then the budget can be enormous because we know it has that much of recovery and will have a larger audience. So I feel the budget should be right because every film has its own audience.

What was it like shooting in or around Taj Mahal?

It was very good, because since 5 in the morning to 10 in the night you see Taj in all different shades – like fog around Taj or the golden rays of sun falling on it and it looks like golden red shinning beautifully or seeing it in the moon light at night; it’s magical and mesmerizing so it was phenomenal to shoot there.

How was your experience and collaboration with your co-star, Manjari Phadnis?

Manjari is one of the sweetest girls that I’ve worked with, she’s very chilled out. Till now she hasn’t got influenced and carried away by the industry; her innocence is still intact with her. I used to fool around with her and pull her leg but she also knows what’s her strength and her weakness and she’s very candid about it. She used to honestly tell me to help her with the accent and she use to keep practicing; because if I was being right with my lingo, it was necessary for my wife in the film also to be on the same page. So she really worked hard on it and she made sure that I kept that part as it is because it looked good and she made sure to put in that effort to be the same, usually not many people do that.

‘Banjo’ and ‘Parched’ clashed with your film, do did you have any apprehensions?

I believe at the end of the day the film should be good and there is always place for two three small budget films that release at the same time. And Riteish is a dear friend so between friends there is always friendship and not competition and also in ‘Parched’ there’s Radhika Apte so I would say it’s a really good time and an opportunity for Maharashtra to bless their maharashtrian children; me, Riteish, Manjari, Ravi Jadhav and Radhika Apte. I think all Maharashtrians had decided that we all will come together (laughs) so now it’s Maharashtra’s responsibility to accept us and bless us. I just pray that everyone’s films work and everyone gets success in it.

What’s the status on your production venture after ‘Poshter Boyz’?

We are doing ‘Poshter Boyz’ in Hindi now and I will also be directing, and we are working on the sequel of ‘Poshter Boyz’ in Marathi which is still in scripting stage because I got involved with the Hindi version so my focus just was slightly shifted but it’s in process and we will lock it soon.

How has life changed professionally for you after ‘Iqbal’?

Well, it has been fantastic with lots of ups and downs. Many films were successful many were not. When you think this film will make a lot of business that lands up being a flop and when you think and doubt about a film thinking what will happen of this film, that turns out to be a hit so I guess it’s time that teaches you a lot of things. So I’ve too learnt a lot of things in life and think my work is to do my work, which movie is going to run good, which movie is going to release when, these things are not in our hands so there is no point in boiling your blood and go sleepless night and all. If the film works its good if it doesn’t work then also it’s fine because here we are to work and that’s all we have to do.

As you mentioned you will be directing one of your films and you have also worked with different directors so how different will it be seeing yourself directing and also learning from the directors you have worked with?

Learning from the directors I have learnt a lot from all directors, right from Nagesh kukunoor, Shyam Babu to Rohit Shetty, Farah Khan to Sajid Khan all of them; learnt immensely from them. And I’m Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s fan. The kind of films he makes I just love them and I will always love them so somewhere I feel the magic he has in his films, which even Rajkumar Hirani films do have; that kind of flavor so that is where I see myself and if ill direct my films it will too have that kind of flavor in it.

What do you see that one thing before signing a film?

Script, story and my role these are the priority things that I see and then who’s directing it, who’s producing it but the first thing is the story that has to appeal me.

What is that one thing you’ll take back with you from this film?

Well this film and my experience as an actor has been phenomenal because like I said, you’re hungry for something. Films that you do and you’re not completely there and you keep waiting for one role which will satisfy your hunger so this was the film to a very large extent satisfied my hunger that was within me as an actor. It’s not every day that you get to do these kind of roles so I just hope that more such films are made and people approach you and offer you and that it’s fun to work on it plus if you get a good crew like Manjari and a director like Ajit Sihna  who are so accommodating, that is something to learn because as an actor they never stopped me to improvise, they were supportive and allowed me to improvise or if I wanted to add on something I could do and then we could decide on the edit table if it will be removed or kept which I was completely fine with but he never stopped me and the actor in me to explore it.

Tell us about your future projects?

Well there’s ‘Poshter Boyz’ and ‘Golmaal 4’.

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