A mighty ‘Shivraj Shekhar’ saves ‘Anandi’ from an accident, and from the drudgeries of her life. Days pass and the ‘Shivji’ of small screen grows on you. Not that you hadn’t followed any of the previous shows of the actor who was portraying the role, but it was just the right mix of the character’s nuances, personality and excellent casting. And boy, how he has improved as an actor! So does Shiv rub off on the person portraying it – Sidharth Shukla? I wanted to know.
I dial his number in anticipation. He picks my call (third attempt). I introduce myself, he calls me ‘Sonali’.
Now, that wasn’t a nice start. Anyways, I carry on, clarify my name – IT’S SONAL! He corrects himself. I ask about his health, about the recent accident he met with and he, being a man of few words, just says, “It’s all good.” Hmmm! Tough nut to crack!
So, I begin throwing my questions. “What’s with your love life Sidharth? Everybody seems to be after your life. I watched the promotion videos of ‘Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania’; Alia and Varun were constantly teasing you! Is there anybody you’re hiding?” My first question.
His answer was the usual. “No yaa! There’s nobody. Not that I haven’t been in love. I have gone around a few times. But right now, there’s nobody. And for a person like me, who has such terrible phone manners, it’s very difficult to maintain a relationship. Plus I don’t have time too. I set out from home in the morning, come back at night. Where’s the time?”
So aren’t these problems supposed to stay as long as you are in your acting career? “Yeah! They will stay, but I haven’t met anybody interesting. Who should I go out with?” he replies.
So what kind of a girl does Sidharth Shukla want? “I don’t have a type. I am more of a sapiosexual person. The girl has to be intelligent,” says he.
He stops there. And gives me the sign to move on from this question. I do.
I begin asking about his career.
Ques: Talking about your career, I read you have studied Interiors. You didn’t actually want to become an actor, did you?
Sidharth: Not really. I was a very protected and confused kid till 24. It was after then, that I started taking my life seriously. Modelling happened, and then acting happened. I didn’t plan anything. Nor do I do now. I come from a school of thoughts where I actually don’t plan anything. I don’t know what I’ll be doing the next year. I take life as it comes.
Ques: About the TV career, you had done about three shows – Babul Ka Aangan Chhootey Na, Jaane Pehchaane Se Yeh Ajnabi and Luv U Zindagi – but didn’t get recognised much. Nor were the shows high on TRP. It was Balika Vadhu, that catapulted you to success. Because the looks you had, the acting talent you already had; it was Balika that brought you to limelight.
Sidharth: Totally. The reach of the show worked for me. It was an established and most loved show. That helped. But we can’t take anything away from the shows I did before. In all these years I kept learning. See, I haven’t taken any professional courses in acting, so I learnt from all these shows. In Balika too, I have learnt a lot.
Ques: You have evolved as an actor too.
Sidharth: You can say that. Working with people like Surekhaji, Anupji is an experience in itself. And our director is an amazing person. So more than the fame or recognition, I am thankful to Balika because it has taught me a lot.
Ques: And it also happens to be the reason why you became a part of ‘Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 6’.
Sidharth: Yeah! Because I was a part of the channel. I was actually apprehensive taking up the show. Dancing has not been my forte and I wasn’t sure of how people would like me. They love Shiv; they have loved the characters I have played. I didn’t know whether they would like me.
Ques: But people fell in love with you, especially Karan Johar.
Sidharth: (chuckles) Not really. I guess everybody who performs on Jhalak, you know, is loved by all. It’s, anyways, not everyday that you perform infront of Karan Sir, Madhuri Ma’am and Remo Sir. And it feels nice when people of their stature notice you, know you by your name.
Ques: Your Jhalak stint landed you a three movie deal with Karan Johar. We know the story well by now, though. When did it all happen? When did you start shooting?
Sidharth: When did I start shooting? Let me go back in time. I think we started shooting in November.
Ques: And the announcement was made in January I guess.
Sidharth: January? Yeah.
Ques: You’re a good secret keeper, so is Karan Johar.
Sidharth: Well! That was when it was supposed to be told. See Karan and me knew what I was getting into. We knew I was a part of a daily soap and I couldn’t jeopardise it. I am glad Karan, the prodution house and the channel were supportive enough to let me do both at the same time. Karan’s mom also loves the show and the character. That also helped.
Ques: You were great in the movie. But don’t you think there should have been more of you in the movie? Especially the climax. I, as a fan, felt disappointed.
Sidharth: This was what was sold to me. I knew this was my part and I knew this much would be shown on the screen. Infact, I am glad that you, as a viewer, and many others wanted more of me, wanted to watch me more. Isn’t that good?
Ques: So were your family, friends and fans happy with Humpty Sharma?
Sidharth: Yes, they were.
Ques: And I have noticed you have started experimenting too. You are hosting the weekend episodes of ‘Savdhaan India’ these days. So, will you continue hosting?
Sidharth: See, it’s such a wide field. And there’s so much to do. Hosting is a different ball game altogether and I am enjoying doing it.
Ques: So any more reality shows? Or hosting stints?
Sidharth: I don’t plan anything. I would love to do everything.
Ques: Coming back to HSKD, how was the experience of working with Varun and Alia? I am sure you all had a ball. You all were hilarious during the promotions.
Sidharth: We fall in the same age group. And Varun and Alia are chilled out people. We got along well. Infact the other guys too – Sahil and Gaurav.
And besides, it’s really easy, you know, to get a hit under your belt, to fare well but what’s more difficult is sustaining that, staying at the heights, being humble.
Varun is a relaxed person; no airs. We used to do scenes, improvise and ask each other for suggestions. It was fun.
Ques: Was it really? My colleague had gone to one of the promotional events in New Delhi where the three of you were present. She felt you were rather outshone by Varun and Alia. Like they were all over and you stood in the corner, smiling.
Sidharth: I didn’t feel so. See, I had to realize the movie was about Humpty and his Dulhania – Varun and Alia. They had to do what they were doing and I didn’t feel ignored at any moment. I had fun with them.
Ques: Such diplomatic answers you give always.
Sidharth: Not at all. I am the last person on Earth who can be diplomatic. I say what I actually feel.
Ques: Really? So answer these questions.
Toral Rasputra or Pratyusha Banerjee?
Ques: And that’s a non diplomatic answer?
Sidharth: Yes. I work with Anandi. I choose Anandi.
Ques: Pradeep Yadav or Karan Johar?
Sidharth: Depends on which medium I am working.
Ques: Oh God! Okay. One Bollywood actress you would kill to work with.
Sidharth: All of them. All of them are so beautiful, and working so great.
Ques: (Giving up hope that he would answer once non diplomatically): And directors? Apart from Karan Johar.
Sidharth: All of them.
Ques: Are you a movie buff?
Sidharth: Not really. I watch when I have time. Recently, I watched four movies continuously in a single day.
Ques: The last movie you watched?
Sidharth: Gone Girl. Loved it.
Ques: A movie like ‘Haider’ or ‘Bang Bang’? You’d wish to do?
Sidharth: Both. Both are different genres and I would like to do both, and I think I’ll be able to pull both roles.
Ques: You have never really talked about your friendships in the industry. Who’s your best friend from the industry?
Sidharth: I work with them. They are my colleagues. I am not great friends with anybody of them.
Ques: Let me rephrase the question then. Who do you gel well with the most?
Sidharth: If I have to name one, it will be Faizan Kidwai, who played my elder brother in ‘Babul..’
Ques: Any movie projects in hand?
Sidharth: Nothing worth talking about.
Ques: Or will we know when it’s the right time?
Sidharth: Yeah (quite stretches the word)
Ques: And one more question, I also happened to hear about the certain tiff between you and Shashank Vyas. He wasn’t too happy when you took over one of the tracks when he should have been in the limelight.
Sidharth: I don’t know. We work together. I don’t go about asking who complained about who. There have been tracks in the show where Jagya has had the upper hand. Like when Sanchi gets raped, it’s Jagya who saves her. Shiv could also have done it. He is a strong character. But that happens in a show. You can’t complain about these things.
Ques: In a way, you’re saying that Shashank did complain?
Sidharth: No, I am not saying that. I don’t even know that. I am just saying that characters take preference according to the track. There’s nothing to complain.
Sidharth: You have more? You want to write a book?
While I denied the possibility of any such developement, I do think I might have written a book too. The subject ‘Sidharth Shukla’ is a deep engrossing one. Nothing’s clear, but everything’s so apparent.
Ques: So since, it’s your birthday tomorrow (December 12), and your fanpages are trying to trend you on Twitter, any message for them?
Sidharth: I just want to thank them for all the love. I keep reading their tweets and what they are doing. It’s so selfless, you know. So beautiful. They keep asking me to tweet. I tweet when I have something worthwhile to say; otherwise I read their tweets and go.
I don’t even know whether I am worth all of it, but I thank them for all the support and love.
And with this, I bade adieu to one of the more intelligent people I have had conversations with.
Subtle and so ‘Shiv’, Sidharth Shukla is here to stay, just not by the grace of his acting, or looks, but simply by virtue of the attitude he has towards life. And that has to happen, he shares his birthday with Rajinikanth. Sidharth is not a mere mortal. Mind it!
And I am officially a fan now. Thanks.