Be it his role as a gangster in Gunahon Ka Devta, an army officer in Rangrasiya, or even a God in Siya Ke Ram, Ashish Sharma has managed to excel in all. Currently seen in Prithvi Vallabh, the actor is all set to play the titular role in upcoming film Khejdi. And he is all set to shock the world by enacting the character of a transgender in the project. The film is an adaptation of a short story Sanjha and has been penned and produced by Ashish and his wife Archana Taide. The actor recently got in an exclusive conversation with indianexpress.com to talk about the film and his other projects.
When asked what gives him more joy – acting or writing, Ashish shared, “I enjoy creating things from start. Even if I am acting, I like to be a part of the whole process since beginning, as it is essential to build up the creative world. The entire process gives me joy as it helps me grow and learn new things each time.”
With wife Archana producing the film, the actor shared that she was indeed a hard taskmaster on sets. “Archana is a hard taskmaster and a multi-tasker unlike me, and thus it becomes easy for me to concentrate on my work as she takes care of everything else related to production. She is your true blue producer,” he averred.
Talking about his experience of co-writing the film with her, Ashish shared, “When we write there is a simple structure that we follow. We first discuss the story and put our thoughts on table. She is good with building up scenes while I am good at setting up the ambience. Also, as we both are actors it becomes easy for us to map out characters. We don’t go ahead with a story till we are both convinced hundred per cent with it.”
The movie is an adaptation of a short film and while the couple has made few changes, they retained the essence completely. “When I read this short story, I started making a rough screenplay in my head. The original story is based in UP but I could see it in Rajasthan. That’s the basic difference, other then that it’s very close to the original. We have just enhanced it cinematically.”
There was recently a lot of buzz about him refusing to kiss his co-star Sonarika Bhadoria in Prithvi Vallabh. And now, that he is playing a transgender in the film, we asked his takes on stigmas attached to what should be presented on-screen. “At times a story needs certain things which will have an impact only if shown visually and if that is required it needs to be done. But if we show it just for titillation or grabbing eyeballs that shouldn’t be the criterion. Just to clear this, you will see lot of shockers in Khejdi,” he said with a smirk.
While Ashish started with films, we wondered what kept him away from the big screen for so long. He quipped with a smile, “Everything happens for a reason. I had done three films before TV happened to me but only one came out (Love Sex Aur Dhoka). TV thus prepared me so much and has given me such a brilliant standing that today, I can take the risk of producing a film myself. I’ve always called it paid learning as I was learning on the job. I completely owe everything I am or I will be to TV. While I was at Anupam Kher sir’s acting school, he had told me once that ‘beta kaam karte rehna chota bada kaisa bhi, kyunki kaam se kaam aata hai, ghar baithe nahi aata (Do whatever work you can, big or small, for work gets more work, sitting at home will never help).”
Ashish has already ticked out TV and films and while actors are moving towards the digital medium, he has his own way of choosing projects. “I don’t feel that now TV is done so let’s do films; I see content not medium. If a story appeals to me I would be a part of it in whatever capacity because I like to tell stories. And indeed web has become an interesting platform to tell stories which you can’t tell otherwise on other platforms. We ourselves are developing two scripts for the same. So let’s see how it all pans out.”
Khejdi has been selected for Kashish International Mumbai Queer Film Festival, which is South Asia’s biggest LGBTQ Film Festival. The screening of the film shall be on May 24 in Mumbai.