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How Ishaan Khatter moved against the tide: From Beyond The Clouds to A Suitable Boy

Ishaan Khatter ditched a hardcore commercial Bollywood debut and picked characters which are raw and real. As he goes more mainstream with his next few releases, here's looking at the young actor's unconventional trajectory.

Written by Mimansa Shekhar | New Delhi |
Updated: November 1, 2021 12:38:09 pm
ishaan khatter films newsIshaan Khatter did some films as a child artiste before making his debut as a lead actor. (Photo: Instagram/ishaankhatter)

Ishaan Khatter might be a part of the current pack of newbies and star kids in Bollywood, but he isn’t doing things the conventional way. He isn’t paparazzi hungry, his social media posts take us more into his boy-next-door life, and above all else, his choice of scripts are far from glitz and glamour.

So what makes Ishaan Khatter tick?

“I feel happy about the work I did. I feel grateful for the opportunities I got, and I enjoyed them to the fullest. As for satisfaction, I am still looking for that. But yeah, there have been varying degrees of satisfaction in the work I have done so far,” Ishaan previously told

Ishaan Khatter starrer Beyond the Clouds has hit the big screen today Ishaan Khatter starrer Beyond the Clouds won a lot of critical acclaim.

Ishaan ditched a starry debut and dived straight into the frame of a Majid Majidi directorial, Beyond The Clouds (2017). When the newcomers of his generation were playing safe on camera, Ishaan was under the archlights of Majidi. He played Amir, an impulsive drug runner who develops a bond with the family of her sister’s molester, thus discovering his good side. The poignant tale got Ishaan several debut awards along with a critically successful entry into films as a lead.

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Yes, ‘a lead’ because until then Ishaan had already appeared in some movies as a child actor, including his elder brother Shahid Kapoor starrer Vaah! Life Ho Toh Aisi (2005). He also trained himself by assisting Abhishek Chaubey in Shahid’s hit film Udta Punjab (2016).

Vaah Life Ho Toh Aisi ishaan khatter Ishaan Khatter played one of the kids in Vaah! Life Ho Toh Aisi (2005).

To say that Ishaan was well versed with the tricks of the trade before venturing out, won’t be wrong. Because even in his second film — Dhadak (2018), he managed to grab eyeballs despite it being the big launchpad of Sridevi’s daughter, Janhvi Kapoor. The Hindi remake of Marathi blockbuster Sairat was a one of a kind production from the stable of Karan Johar too.

Dhadak showed the flamboyant side of Ishaan. But there was a certain rawness to his chivalry. For fans, either it was the naughtiness in his eyes or his smile that made him the best bet to play Madhu.

Ishaan called it a prerequisite to know what’s important to be able to portray the character authentically and not go out of rhythm. “The groundwork varies for every character. Personally, I think it’s very important to know what part you are playing in the whole picture. Once you have that knowledge, you can choose to do what you want to do with it. Otherwise, you’ll just be experimenting.”

Janhvi Kapoor with Ishaan Khatter Ishaan Khatter and Janhvi Kapoor in a still from Dhadak.

By now, it has became a staple that Ishaan preferred to pick rusty and real characters. The unpolished charm he brought to his persona became a signature to his characters. His street smart taxi driver in action-comedy Khaali Peeli (2020) reverberated another similar trait. Though the film bombed, his ‘tapori-ness’ won praise.

Ishaan took the biggest risk with BBC’s period drama A Suitable Boy in 2020. His Maan Kapoor was the wayward son of a politician who gets into a forbidden romance with a Muslim courtesan (Tabu) in this Mira Nair directorial. “It just gave me the opportunity to explore so much within one character,” Ishaan told us.

Just a couple of years in the business, and Ishaan has managed to work with dream directors — Majid Majidi and Mira Nair. Calling the opportunities “a blessing”, he told in an interview to, “I consider Majidi sir like a spiritual guide in my life. He has contributed directly in my journey. He’s been a father figure. I wouldn’t exchange that experience for anything. And he trusted me with such an amazing part in my first film. He’s given me everything that I needed as an actor. Mira ji has given me an opportunity to be seen by a whole new audience, and to be able to portray such a difficult part. She is an incredible person, who gives so much to an actor.”

tabu and ishaan khatter Ishaan Khatter’s character gets into a forbidden romance with a Muslim courtesan played by Tabu in A Suitable Boy.

Ishaan’s preference to ditch the hardcore commercial potboilers at the start of his career did narrow down roles for him, but he seemed undeterred. He believes a person is defined by the choices he/she makes, and agrees that if he had a typical Bollywood debut, things would’ve been different. “These are early years of my life. If you are a certain kind of an actor and like to give yourself more to the director, it takes a lot out of you. I guess, you decide what’s worth it and what’s not,” he said.

Ishaan’s characters continue to project an undercurrent of youth aspirations, which he consciously picks. Though he said his upcoming projects, including Pippa will show “a new Ishaan.”

“Phone Bhoot is my first horror-comedy. It is so interesting to be able to now push myself in that direction after having done some really intense characters. So I’m very excited.”

Happy birthday, Ishaan Khatter!

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