Known for his roles in A Wednesday, Haider and Gurgaon, Aamir Bashir is currently seen playing the powerful Yashvardhan Patil aka Bhaisaab in Inside Edge 2. The Amazon Prime Original also stars Vivek Oberoi, Richa Chadha, Tanuj Virwani, Sapna Pabbi, Siddhant Chaturvedi and Angad Bedi in pivotal roles.
Bashir plays the President of Indian Cricket Board and the founder of the Power Play League, the man who pulls the strings through the course of the show. While his character was omnipresent in the first season, the character’s face was never revealed. And now in the latest installment, it is Bhaisaab who rules over the screen with his power games.
In an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, Aamir Bashir opens up about playing Bhaisaab, the digital space and his stint in TV and films.
Excerpts from the conversation.
Q. You are playing one of the most anticipated characters in Inside Edge 2. What was your reaction when it came your way?
People who have seen the first season, already had an image in their mind of the character, and will they accept me or not was a big question. But then I realised that it’s not something in my control. What I was really kicked about was the fact that someone was offering me an older character. It’s usually against the norms. Actors are mostly vain in that sense and want to keep playing younger roles. But I believe older the character, they are more mature, intelligent with vast experience and so can have multiple layers.
Q. What were the challenges of getting into the shoes of Bhaisaab?
It was for me to find shades of this character – a cold calculative person – within myself. He is in an extremely powerful position. And personally, I have a problem with people who are in authority. So it was a task to overcome that and become someone who exudes power and has no qualms in using it for good and bad. What I also realised while playing Bhaisaab is that this is a human trait. People, who have power, will have to grapple with it, while using it in a creative or destructive way
Q. Had you followed Inside Edge or watched it only after you signed it?
I did watch it after I was offered the part. And it was a no brainer after that. It’s a successful show, and I was excited to get on the wagon.
— Inside Edge (@InsideEdgeAMZN) November 26, 2019
Q. While most actors have already been part of the show, how was your equation when you came on board?
I have known Richa (Chadha) for a while so it was comfortable. I have most of my scenes with her or Sapna (Pabbi), who was also a new inclusion. So it was all pretty smooth between us. When Karan Anshuman (creator) and Aakash Bhatia (director) came to me with the project, I was surprised by what they have in mind for me. But honestly, it has been a dream to be a part of sports fiction. I am a football fanatic but also watch golf sometimes at four in the morning. I love sports and ideally, I would have loved to be on the field but I am happy being associated with Inside Edge.
Q. Do you feel these kinds of strong roles would have come to you in a film?
No, that’s the difference in the digital medium. In films, there is a set infrastructure, where the stars sit on the top, and we get only the crumbs that fall down. On the web, it’s more democratic. The web gave space to character actors. Also, its beauty is that a character may be seen in a couple of scenes in season one but could go on to bloom altogether in the later seasons. With no fear of limited time and the narrative quite different from films, one can also have more layered characters and subplots.
Q. Talking about seasons, your last web series (Sacred Games 2) received a mixed response. Do you feel making a season can be a dicey move?
This is a call mostly taken by streaming platforms. At the end of the day, there are some threads that need to be tied, and you cannot say it all in one part. But that has to be decided at the beginning. For if you want to keep it an open-end, it can be just one part. So it’s entirely a creative and sometimes a business call. I cannot judge it but I wouldn’t like to be a part of something that goes on for 10 seasons. It becomes your only identity and that is problematic for me. So yes, a limited series works for me better.
Q. Inside Edge and even Sacred Games received a nomination at the International Emmys. Do you feel Indian content can now be pitted against global work?
I think it’s a great time to be an actor or a maker, and I hope the bubble doesn’t burst. In terms of stories from the subcontinent, we are far more interesting, layered and colorful as compared to the first world. We have politics, gender and so many other subjects to talk about. However, it’s important that we stay rooted rather than faking it for a specific audience. If that gets overcome, there’s no question that we have a universal appeal that can get well accepted internationally.
Q. You have also been part of the TV show Alpviram, which was quite way ahead of its time. What is your take on the kind of content being produced on small screen currently?
I lost touch with television as soon as things became all about daily soaps. The last series I did was in 2001. I haven’t followed television since then. Also because I was so disappointed with the kind of content that was being offered to me. And those days, I was only offered TV so I had to be unemployed for a long time. But I have no regrets.
Q. Did these experiences and the quest to tell stories your way make you take up direction?
Absolutely, that was the key. The most difficult part of being an actor is the wait. Sometimes it can be one hour which can even turn into eight hours at stretch. It’s up to you how you utilise the time, be it by taking naps, reading or gossiping around. I got interested in the process of filmmaking during these breaks. And mostly I learnt what not to do when making a film. After Harud (his directorial debut that won a National Award), I am almost ready with my second film, which shall go into post-production soon.
Q. Finally, do you feel you got your due as an actor?
I am not really into these calculations. My only desire is that I want to do things on my terms. If I feel I am not adding value to the script, I don’t do it. Thankfully, I have managed to sustain. Yes, I do not have huge assets, swanky apartments or cars but that’s not an issue. I am satisfied and happy when I go to sleep every night. I want to keep doing projects which make me happy and have the freedom to get out of it when I want.