Thirteen years ago, a young actor from Gujarati theatre made his debut in the award-winning Godmother (1999). He followed this serious art-house entry with youthful capers like Style and Xcuse Me. Sharman Joshi’s trajectory was hard to define."People in theatre consider ourselves learned compared to people in cinema. My fraternity was proud of me for being a part of a five National Awards-winning film. But when I did Style, they wondered where I was headed," recalls Joshi who bases his decisions on instinct and the script. "It’s important that I enjoy myself; thereafter everything else falls into place. I have no set rules. I just love entertaining people."
It was only in 2006, when he played Sukhi/ Rajguru in Rang De Basanti and Laxman in Golmaal, that Joshi’s graph began to take shape. Ask him, and after great deliberation picks 3 Idiots as the game-changer.
After dabbling in college theatre competitions, the Mumbai-born actor entered Gujarati theatre, mentored by his dad, theatre veteran Arvind Joshi. “I was 20 when I did a cameo in my first play. After that I decided to be an actor,” says the Commerce graduate who spent seven years in theatre.
Of the 16 films he has done since 1999, his notable performances include ensemble films Rang De Basanti, Golmaal, Life in a Metro and 3 Idiots, while some of his forgettable works include Shaadi No 1, Raqeeb, Hello and Dhol. But now, Joshi is living in the moment he has been waiting for – as the lead in Ferrari Ki Sawaari (releasing June 15).
Landing the role of a Parsi head clerk at Mumbai’s RTO in a film produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, written by Rajkumar Hirani and directed by Rajesh Mapuskar was not easy. It took more than 30 auditions for Joshi to convince the makers that he was the right actor to play the part of Rustom in Ferrari... "It took a while to persuade them that I could play the father of a 10-year-old and pull off the gentleness of the character," says the 33-year-old father of three. Two months of intense auditioning were followed by preparaing for the look for the character – hair, popping out of ears, thickening of eyebrows, paunch, gait and gaining 8 kilos.
After 3 Idiots, this is the only film Joshi signed. He has also signed Tanuja Chandra’s romantic drama Chithiyan. So what did he do in the two years between completing 3 Idiots and starting Ferrari...? “That in between time is when you work the hardest – reading scripts, meeting people, working on ideas.”
Besides his father, Joshi names Rajkumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra as the biggest influences in his career.
“Mr Hirani is a great director. You can see it in the way he visualised the interview scene in 3 Idiots. That scene is now used by management schools to show students what their attitude should be during interviews,” says Joshi. “Mr Chopra is a genius. The best part about him is his candour and clarity.”
The Ferrari car is central to the plot of his forthcoming film. Like most men, he says he also is passionate about cars though you will only find a SUV and a sedan in his garage. “But I hope to own a Ferrari some day. If Mr Chopra gifts me one, I will happily accept it!” he says.Candid thoughts
Films I wish I’d been a part of: Chak De! India, Taare Zameen Par, Lagaan, Lage Raho Munna Bhai
What I wanted to be when I was growing up: I always wanted to be an actor, but when anyone asked me I would say ‘director’. Anyone who wants to be an actor will shy away from admitting that because then you come under instant scrutiny and assessment.
Recent films I’ve liked: The Artist was good; Shaitan and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara were nice; Vicky Donor was fun. I loved Paan Singh Tomar and thought Irrfan was dazzling.
On Aamir Khan: I love and respect him. He’s a fine actor.
From HT Brunch, June 10
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