“Humko aapka yeh vyapar nahi sambhaalna, ek baar B.Tech ho jaaye toh M.Tech ka try karenge (I don’t want to look after your business. Once I finish graduation, I will go for post-graduation).” Remember who said these lines in Mirzapur season one?
It was actor Anjum Sharma aka Sharad Shukla, Rati Shankar’s son, who had no interest in ruling, or trying to rule Mirzapur. Though the character had a blink-and-you-miss appearance, in season two, he is among the major players whose eyes are set on the throne of Mirzapur. Sharad would also look to avenge his father’s murder.
In a conversation with IndianExpress.com, Anjum Sharma discussed his character, Sharad Shukla, at length. He also shared how being on the sets of Mirzapur was like a workshop for him, where he learnt a lot from a diverse group of actors.
After Guddu, Bablu and Munna, you are appearing to be the next big player of Mirzapur. What can you tell us about your character?
Unfortunately, not much, because I cannot talk anything about the character without giving you a spoiler. But I can definitely tell you that Sharad Shukla is the only person in the entire show who despite being a part of the family which is involved in violence, doesn’t want to belong there, unlike Munna or even Guddu. They all wanted power. But he is the only guy who is very sorted. He has a lot of objectivity in the way he looks at things. Now, if that kind of a person decides one day that he wants to kick back, wants to come into this world with a sense of revenge, to change the system and the rules of the game, so that in itself is quite an interesting character graph.
What were your first thoughts after reading the script? Weren’t you apprehensive of joining a show where the audience has already picked their favourite characters?
In season one, when director Gurmmeet Singh called me, and he offered this role to me, it was clear that this character will shape up in season two. Then season two started. I read the script, and I thought the character was quite fleshed out. From there, the whole thread started. There was always a sense of responsibility and challenge. It was basically like you have the best batting lineup, you are coming on six down or fifth down, so there’s pressure. But the fun also lies there. Also, when you are working with such a fine range of actors, it’s always a learning experience. So, the pressure was like very initial, and it just went away very quickly. What remained was an enjoyable experience.
After you did that one scene as Sharad Shukla, were you aware that your character will become so big in season 2?
No. Frankly, I always knew that the character would flesh out in season two but that the character would create so much of intrigue, that we didn’t know.
How did you prepare for the role? Was it difficult to get that dialect of UP?
I am well-versed with the dialect of UP since my mom is from UP. Also, when I was doing theatre, I had visited eastern UP a lot, so I had the hang of the dialect. But my character hails from Jaunpur, and I have never been to Jaunpur. To play the character, I needed to have visuals and images of Jaunpur in my head, so I had to create those images. Then I started gathering different material on Jaunpur and started watching several videos. Puneet Krishna (creator of Mirzapur) and Gurmmeet (director) were always there to guide me. Also, the script for me is always a reference point, and research is only to support the content which is there in the script. I tried my best to get into the skin of my character.
How was the entire experience of being on the sets of Mirzapur?
It was different. It was quite an emotional experience. It was also like an extended workshop. It was like those kinds of workshops where you meet and do brainstorming with people who have different experiences, processes and journey. It’s been a fulfilling experience.
Your debut film was an Oscar-winning movie (Slumdog Millionaire). Did you become choosy about the roles you picked after that?
See the choice has always been there. I have not done anything and everything. There has been a process that I have taken in life, and now I only do things where I can apply that process. It is a challenging thing to find your own way and still abide by it even when you don’t have too many choices, but you still don’t want to deflect. It’s a very tough job. Sometimes it really gets delusional. But then it is something which is going to go in your resume, so you can’t go wrong about it. Still, I’ve been lucky to work with people who I wanted to work with.