If Salman Khan is the reason for the super success of Sultan, it’s the film’s supporting cast that made the movie more interesting with their impressive performances. And one such character in the film was Govind, Sultan’s Haryanvi friend, played brilliantly by Anant Vidhaat, a theatre actor from Delhi. In an exclusive conversation with IndianExpress.com, a candid Vidhaat talked about his experience of sharing screen with Salman Khan, his journey from streets of Delhi to Yash Raj Films studio and how the content-driven films offer opportunities for budding actors like him.
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After the release of Sultan, people are interested in knowing more about you. But very little is available on the internet. So can you give a brief description of yourself?
I was born in Gwalior and brought up in Delhi. Since my childhood, I have been very interested in acting. After completing school I pursed B.Com in Kirorimal College and joined its theatre society, Players. I had told my parents about pursuing a career in acting and they were very supportive. I then completed my graduation in 2004 and came to Mumbai and joined Satish Kaushik, who also happened to be an alumni of our theatre group, as an assistant director in three films – Milenge Milenge (2010), Vada (2005) and Shaadi se Pehle (2006). But after assisting him I realised that it will take some time to groom my acting skill. I then went to Poland for training. After three years of training, I did a solo play based on the character of Ravan in FTII Pune and did theatre for some time. I came back to Mumbai to try my hand in films, of which I was very passionate about.
And then you bagged a role in Gunday, a Yash Raj Films project that is a dream for Indian actors. So how did that happen?
Actually in my initial days, I had done few workshops for Yash Raj Films. But one of the major factor was director Ali Abbas Zafar who was my senior in Kirorimal College. He was also a part of Players. So when I came to Mumbai he asked to give an audition. Its a big thing for an aspiring actor to get even a chance to audition, forget getting a role. It’s so difficult there. Here I feel myself to lucky to have a senior like Ali. I gave the audition which producer Aditya Chopra liked and I got Gunday. Even before the release of Gunday, I got another call for audition for Mardaani by Pradeep Sarkar. I gave it and Pradeep Da liked it and Sunny Katyal (character in Mardaani) was born.
WATCH VIDEO: 5 Reasons To See Salman Khan’s Sultan
The character of Sunny Katyal was of a member of a high-profile sex racket. It was quite different from that of Gunday. How did you prepare yourself for that role?
My stay in Delhi helped me prepare for that role. I have come across many such people in Delhi and Gurgaon who wear classy clothes, heavy jewellery but are too rude and speak foul language. And my observation of these men helped me prepare for that role. Pradeep Da also had the same idea about that character. But keeping it endearing was a challenge for me and people liked that character. Audience reaction was overwhelming.
And that helped you bag Sultan?
No. After Mardaani I was jobless for almost a year. I wasn’t offered many roles and the kind of work that were offered to me didn’t move me. So I kept waiting for a good project because I don’t accept random work for the sake of working. There was a big gap between Mardaani and Sultan.
Didn’t that lead to frustration?
No. its a phase in actor’s life where you have no work. But then you have to commit yourself so that frustration shouldn’t overpower you. I kept myself engaged reading books, novels, watching movies which could enrich me. I trained myself in the meantime. Actor’s training is not just restricted to gym, you have so many things to do. Patience is the key be it in any filed.
So how Sultan happened?
Again I was called for an audition. And that was not for the role of Govind but for some other character. But then the makers decided to cast me for Salman’s friend character, which had an important role in the story. And I must say playing hero’s friend used to be a big curse in Hindi films once. I was also very apprehensive about the character earlier because “hero ka dost aksar bahut dead sa character hota hai.” But in last three-four years, hero’s friend are given importance like you see Zeshan Ayub in Raanjhna or Deepak Dobriyal in Tanu Weds Manu. And since it was Salman’s friend, it had to be strong. Because if you are sharing screen with him, people may just see you. But if you have to want to be noticed, you have to do something extra.
And how was the experience of sharing screen with him. Weren’t you nervous with the kind of aura he has?
Here I must say he was very supportive. I remember he told me on the first day of the shoot, “Agar tum achhey dikhogey to mai achha dikhunga aur agar mai achha dikhunga to tum achhey dikhogey.” That gave me immense confidence and the shooting became very easy for me. He was very generous and never made me feel awkward. I cant describe the kind of understanding he has with his supporting cast.
What do you think is behind Salman’s stardom. An actor recently said there are three type of actors — good, bad and Salman Khan. Do you agree?
I don’t think anyone can decipher that, otherwise anyone can become a Salman Khan. But yes, of course, he has an X factor which others don’t have. Secondly, his ease with acting. He is so effortless in front of camera and that makes him stand apart.
People are talking about Salman’s Haryanvi, accent which you also got perfect in the film. How did you manage that?
That again I will say my life in Delhi acted as a catalyst. Being brought up in Delhi have been in association with people from Punjab and Haryana and that came to me naturally.
Who do you idolize in Bollywood?
I have always enjoyed watching Sanjeev Kumar, Dilip Kumar, Balraj Sahni and also Amitabh Bachchan. And in current crop I am a big fan of the work of Irrfan Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqi. They are big inspiration not just for me but other aspiring actors. It because of these two people that an actor like me can even think of being a protagonist of a film. And the kind of content driven films are being made these days, it have open door of opportunities for actors like us.
What has changed after Sultan?
Its just one week. But yes the appreciation that I have got is overwhelming. There are so many phone calls, interviews happening. Its a big thing.
So have you got any new offer or are you working on any project?
Not now to be very honest. I have not got any offer so far. But yes there are rumors or you can say industry insiders have told me that few producers have taken my numbers. I will say lets just hope for the best.