Vipin Sharma, who was last seen in Paatal Lok as DCP Bhagat, might be remembered for playing the strict father in Taare Zameen Par, but the actor has many other memorable projects to his credit. He has also worked in movies like Yeh Saali Zindagi, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster, Paan Singh Tomar, Gangs of Wasseypur, Satyagraha, Simmba and Gone Kesh among more.
A National School of Drama alumnus, Sharma has been in the business for more than 30 years.
But how did it all begin for Vipin Sharma? Here’s what he shared:
1. What was your first acting project? How did the project come to you?
My first acting project was very interesting. I was still in NSD. We got to know that Shyam Benegal was making a show called Yatra. It aired on DD in 1986. It was shot in a train because it was made by the Indian Railways and had stories from all over the country. Mr Benegal was given the whole train to travel. So everyone, including the actors, used to be on the train. For example, my role was in Guwahati, so I reached Assam, and I boarded the train. So all the actors entered the train wherever their role was happening.
At NSD, we were told that Shyam Benegal is casting and the train is standing at the New Delhi railway station. So I and a junior went there. There were a lot of assistants and crew on the train. We were sent from one coach to another, and it was getting very frustrating. We didn’t know who to meet, and we wanted to act in the show because we were new. So I started feeling very angry after a point and thought let’s just find out where Shyam Benegal is. I found that coach and actually barged in without permission. I went straight to him and told him we are from NSD and wish to be a part of this series, but we were just made to move from one person to another. I think he was very impressed with my anger (laughs). He looked at me but didn’t say anything. He just called the production manager and told him “episode number this, Assam”. And both of us were cast in that episode in a major role. I got to shoot with somebody who was a well-respected director in my very first project.
2. What do you remember of your first day on set?
My first experience was shooting somewhere near Guwahati. The story revolved around a signalman who finds broken train tracks. Without worrying about his own life, he runs towards the train with his shirt, signalling the driver to stop. So he saves many lives. I played the guy who stopped the train.
I remember the scene was near the tracks. My character was very frustrated because even though he saved many lives by averting the train accident, he was not granted leave from the Railways to go home to his pregnant wife. And, he is complaining about it to his colleague. The colleague was the same friend who I took with me to meet Shyam Benegal. I have a very dream-like memory that there was a hand pump and we are drinking water from it. I remember Shyam Benegal was very happy with my scene. It was a tough scene.
3. Were you nervous? How many retakes did you take?
I wasn’t nervous. I was excited about how I am going to do it. Also, it was a highly professional team, and everything was very streamlined.
4. How was the rapport with your co-stars when you got to meet or work with them again later?
I was alone in this episode with my friend who was also acting in it. Both of us were students though he left acting after this show. There were no known actors. I met Shyam Benegal a little before Taare Zameen Par. He is an amazing person. He remembered the shoot. He said, ‘Let’s stay in touch and work again.’ But somehow it didn’t work out. He is such a gentle soul and a beautiful person. He lets you be. He lets you do your job. You will give your best because you know he is there. You can’t go wrong.
5. If given a chance to go back to your debut role, what would you like to change or do better?
If I do it differently, the innocence of a newbie will go. You can’t recreate that. I don’t think I will correct anything. Everything was great. Of course, as an actor, I always think what is it that I can do differently with every new project, or what is it that I have learnt. Acting is very funny. Every time you think you have learnt from your mistakes, you end up making a new one.
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6. One film or role that inspired you to become an actor?
I grew up quite poor actually. In those times, actors, like Amitabh Bachchan, who represented poor people were loved. The class divide always troubled me, so that was the motivator for me to become an actor. It was never about being rich. It was more like I wanted to do something so that I can rise above this helplessness.