January 13, 2022 8:10:08 am
For Bollywood actor Tahir Raj Bhasin, “it was a series of no’s and a few Yes’s” that created his career path. “That is what has led me to a new chapter in 2022… It’s what you refuse that makes you, not what you accept,” he says.
Tahir Raj Bhasin became a popular name in the Hindi film industry after playing an antagonist in Rani Mukerji starrer Mardaani. But he was in Mumbai for 3-4 years before he got his ‘big break’ in the 2014 film and that was a phase of ‘great learning’ for the actor.
“It was a period of great learning because when you meet different casting directors and producers, it teaches you the structure and hierarchy, or lack of, within the industry. You create your own path. When I look at all those years in hindsight, I feel they taught me how to find my own way and not follow in anyone’s footsteps,” shared the actor.
After Mardaani, the actor made a “conscious decision to not pick similar roles.” He played a nerdy hacker in Force 2 (2016), a budding actor in Manto (2018), a college student in Chhichhore (2019) and a cricketer in 83 (2021). He feels, “It’s incredible that at a very early stage I got to showcase diversity. Today, when I meet a studio or a producer, any kind of door can open and it is very liberating as an actor to know that I can play the lead role in any genre, provided I get a good script and a great director.”
The actor, who is fresh out of the success of sports drama 83, has two web series, Ranjish Hi Sahi on Voot Select and Yeh Kaali Kaali Aankhein on Netflix, and a film, Loop Lapeta in the pipeline. He says currently he is “over the moon” as “there has been years of hard work that has led to this moment.” He adds, “I have been floored by the kind of response the trailers have been getting, and I feel it’s a great time to be telling different stories on different mediums.”
Ranjish Hi Sahi, set against the backdrop of the golden era of 70s Bollywood, has Tahir in the role of a struggling film director, Shankar, who finds a soulmate in an A-list Bollywood actress Amna (Amala Paul), leaves his wife Anju (Amrita Puri) stunned and him torn between the two worlds. After the release of the romantic drama’s trailer, many found it similar to the life of its creator Mahesh Bhatt. And, Tahir agrees, though, not entirely.
“This is not a biopic. My character Shankar is not entirely based on Mahesh Bhatt. He doesn’t talk, look or walk like him. A lot of the incidences in the story are works of fiction. They have been dramatised with certain liberty, but the overall theme of the love triangle is inspired by Mahesh Bhatt’s life,” the actor shares.
Since the filmmaker is the creator of the eight-episode series, he did help the team in bringing ‘depth’ to it. Tahir says, “Bhatt sahab was a real mentor on the sets. He comes with such depth of experience. Dealing with a romantic drama that is rooted in so much conflict and entanglement is something that is his forte. I feel Shankar is a mixture of some of the facts inspired by Mahesh Sahab’s life and some fiction that we mixed in to create an entertaining character.”
Tahir shot for Ranjish Hi Sahi just after finishing work on 83 where he essayed the role of former cricketer Sunil Gavaskar. He faced challenges in switching from one real-life character to another.
“If you watch the trailer of 83 and Ranjish Hi Sahi back to back, you will know the difference. To play a sportsman, you undergo certain training, including strength training and cricket practice. I had to gain 4-5 kgs to play Sunil Gavaskar since he was on the heavier side at that time. But for Mahesh Bhatt, I had to put on a total of eight kilos. It involved cutting down on cardio, having a shorter duration of interval training and increasing the intake of carbohydrates. For an actor, gaining weight doesn’t mean you can eat cakes and ice-creams all day long. You have to gain it methodically,” the 34-year-old actor explains.
When asked how it feels to hear all the positive responses for 83, an excited Tahir says, “It feels incredible. I speak on behalf of everyone involved in the film. Just to finally see your hard work bear its fruit, it’s a very rewarding experience. It is also exciting at the same time as for me, incidentally, a lot of it is happening back-to-back.”
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