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First of Many: Jaideep Ahlawat revisits Aakrosh

This week's 'First of Many' features Jaideep Ahlawat. In the 47th edition of our exclusive series, the Paatal Lok actor talks about his first Bollywood film Aakrosh (2010), which was directed by Priyadarshan.

Written by Mimansa Shekhar | New Delhi |
Updated: June 30, 2020 6:03:29 pm
Jaideep-Ahlawat acting debut film aakrosh Jaideep Ahlawat’s first film Aakrosh (2010) was directed by Priyadarshan.

Hailing from Haryana, Jaideep Ahlawat dreamt of joining the Indian Army until acting came calling and he ended up graduating from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII).

The actor has been around for more than a decade, featuring in films like Gangs of Wasseypur, Vishwaroopam, Commando, Raees among more. However, it was Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi in 2018 that boosted his profile. He followed it up with Netflix projects Lust Stories and Bard of Blood, and the critically acclaimed Amazon Prime Video web series Paatal Lok.

But how did it all begin for Jaideep Ahlawat? Here’s what the actor shared:

1. What was your first acting project? How did the project come to you?

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Honey Trehan’s team was holding auditions for a film about the Indian Army, starring John Abraham. I auditioned for that. The same team was conducting auditions for a Priyadarshan film there. Since I was done with the previous audition, they asked me to give this one a shot too. The scene they gave me had several dialogues by several actors and I had just one line in the end. I enacted it without giving it a thought of getting selected or not. But I got a confirmation call within a week that Priyadarshan sir liked my audition. I felt so happy to finally get a project after struggling for a year and a half. All I wanted was to enter the industry. Though that John Abraham film got shelved, I was signed for Aakrosh, which released in 2010.

2. What do you remember of your first day on set?

I played the character of Pappu Tiwari. He is the brother-in-law of a local strongman (baahubali) and his only work is to beat people and pick fights. We knew Priyadarshan sir mostly made comedies, so I barely had any idea about its story. I reached the location in Karaikudi at a two-hour distance from Madurai. The set-up for my first scene was a fair. I did not have any dialogue, and I’m so thankful for that, or else I would’ve goofed up something. There was some song and dance taking place, and I go to Paresh Rawal and share some news with him in his ears. But when I finally got to speak my first dialogue, I got petrified. Because that scene had the entire cast around – Ajay Devgn, Akshaye Khanna, Bipasha Basu, Paresh Rawal, Pankaj Tripathi, plus a crowd of 250 people. The scene required me to push Ajay Devgn. I had to take out my anger like an egoistic man. I was so scared that I just couldn’t hear anything.

3. Were you nervous? How many retakes did you take?

I was very nervous. As soon as they announced my close-up, I freaked out. Three-four takes happened and each time, there was some problem – there was a fumble, there was some noise. I think Priyadarshan sir saw my nervousness. He called me and said he needed the same attitude with which I gave my audition. He told me to improvise my lines as all I needed to do was threaten Ajay sir and throw him out. I was scared of hurting Ajay sir as I didn’t know how much of a push was normal. But Ajay sir pumped me up and said I should hit him harder considering I belong to Haryana. That little pep-talk helped me a lot. I managed to do it in two takes.

4. How was the rapport with your co-stars when you got to meet or work with them again later?

I managed to strike a great rapport with everyone. Priyadarshan sir started loving me so much that he offered me Khatta Meetha on the sets of Aakrosh, within 15-20 days of shoot. During the same time, Priyadarshan sir also won a National Award for Kanchivaram. I congratulated him and got a feeling that there’s going to be a party in the evening. We wanted to attend that and kept waiting for an invite the whole day, but no one from the production team said anything. Pankaj Tripathi and I returned to our hotel. After some time someone called. We felt so happy, I can’t explain. We felt that now we are a part of the core team. Whenever I meet Ajay sir, it’s amazing. He is a quiet person, though I got saved from his famous pranks on set (laughs).

5. If given a chance to go back to your debut role, what would you like to change or do better?

Today, if I get to play Pappu Tiwari, I’ll create something else out of him! Now I’ve become so comfortable with such characters.

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6. One film or role that inspired you to become an actor?

The age when people think of becoming an actor, I wanted to join the Army. I stopped watching films after graduation first year. All my time was spent either in the ground or in the library. Whatever cinema I watched, it was never with the intention of becoming an actor. I watched all kinds of films because my friends took me to the theater and I had no choice.

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