Ashutosh Rana has over the years become one of the most reliable performers in the country. He can lift any scene with his sheer brilliance. With a Bollywood journey to reckon with, Rana has also been a part of TV shows like Sazish, Farz, Jax Kabhi, Waris and Baazi Kiski.
In a career spanning 25 years, Rana has done several memorable supporting roles too – Haasil, Raaz, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania and Ghulam being a few of them. This while doing some Marathi, Tamil and Kannada movies as well.
Ashutosh Rana, who was recently seen in Dhadak, Mulk, Sonchiriya and Simmba, has refused to give his career any kind of break. But his best association has definitely been with ace filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, who also gave him his big acting break in hit television show Swabhimaan.
But how did all this happen? Here’s what the actor shared.
1. How did you land a role in your debut acting project – TV show Swabhimaan?
I passed out from NSD in 1994 and on June 17, I came down to Mumbai. That was because my education, profession and passion have been acting. So this was the only thing I had to pursue in life. And I was lucky that all three were going in the same direction. Hence, I was game to take up whatever opportunity came my way. Also I had no backing in the industry.
Meeting Mahesh Bhatt sir in those times was a huge thing because he was simultaneously directing 3-4 films. Our spiritual guru Daddaji gave me one advice to not struggle in front of anyone but just try and get in touch with Mahesh Bhatt. He was the one I needed to chase. So during my struggling days, the entire Mumbai for me was Mahesh Bhatt. It was my ultimate aim to somehow reach him. After 3-4 months of struggle, I got to meet him and he offered me this two-episode role in TV show Swabhimaan.
When I was doing Swabhimaan, it was a two-episode character but it became such a hit that it turned into one of the main roles. As a result, Bhatt sir gave me a cameo in Tamanna. Then he told me about this role in Ghulam which was supposed to be done by some other actor but due to his unavailability, he wanted me to play it. Eventually, this lead to him casting me in Dushman as the main villain.
2. What do you remember of your first day on set?
I remember on the first day I got a really long scene to do. A 10-page scene in which only I was speaking. It was a 3-camera set-up and it was the first time I was seeing these cranes, trolley, lights and all. The editing happened online. It was a well written scene, but just because it was a single 11-12 minute scene, a very long one, there was also fear of forgetting my lines since I was doing it for the first time. But some magic happened, the shot got okay in one take and around 100-150 people began clapping. And because of that, my two-episode role turned into a full fledged one. People were surprised that despite being a newcomer, I came and performed a 12 minute scene in 15 minutes like some seasoned actor.
And on the first day, when I got that applause from everyone, that was the real test of my acting. Maybe Mahesh Bhattji wanted to test me also. I don’t know. That’s why it was a very long and testing scene.
3. Were you nervous? How many retakes did you take?
There was no nervousness as such because my education and wish were acting. Nervousness happens when both of these are different – when you have the desire to work but not the capacity.
4. And who were your co-stars? How was the rapport with them when you got to meet or work with them again later?
My first scene was with Rohit Roy and Channa Ruparel. Rohit is still my close friend. He is such a friend who will be there on his own whenever I need him.
5. If given a chance to go back to your debut role, what’s that one thing you’d like to change or do better?
If I can go back to my debut role, I’d like to start my career with something like a Chanakya. (laughs)
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6. One film or role that inspired you to become an actor?
I watched a lot of films and was a big fan of Amitabh Bachchan. Then I have seen films by various directors. And all of them left me thrilled. Eventually, when I grew up, there was one film called Arjun which I liked a lot. I loved Ankush. Then Shiva by Ram Gopal Varma also came during the same time. So all these films left an impact on me. I thought if I get to play a role, it has to be on similar lines, either Amitabh Bachchan from Deewaar or Sunny Deol in Arjun or Nana Pateka in Ankush or Nagarjuna in Shiva or Gabbar Singh in Sholay. So such characters influenced me.