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Ashmit Patel on Banaras

Ashmit Patel talks to Diganta Guha about Banaras - the film and the city.

india Updated: Apr 06, 2006 22:17 IST

Ameesha Patel’s younger brother may have reason to believe that he is underrated. The big banners have eluded the actor. However, Ashmit Patel has, since his debut in Intehaa, proved his worth in one film after another, including Anurag Basu’s Murder, where all the hype was around Mallika Sherawat.

However, Ashmit has always had roles of substance and has been noticed by good directors. In Pankuj Parashar’s Banaras — A Mystic Love Story, that released on Thursday, Ashmit features alongside stars such as Naseeruddin Shah, Dimple Kapadia and Urmila Matondkar.

"It was a great learning process. They lift your performance," says Ashmit, who plays an orphan "left on the banks of the Ganges and who is picked up by Babuji (Naseeruddin)". The orphan, Soham, is handed over to a "sweeper who brings him up", he says.

Soham goes on to become a music teacher.

 
 Ashmit Patel and Urmila Matondkar in Banaras

Ashmit says the film portrays the society in Banaras with its rigidity about caste and its double standards. "At the basic level it is a love story," he says. "Seeing the promos one may get the impression that it is a period film. But it isn’t. The film is set in today’s times," says Ashmit, whose character’s falling in love with Shwetambari, a Brahmin girl, is the turning point of the film.

Why was Ashmit chosen for the role? "The producer LC Singh and director Pankuj Parashar met me on the sets of Kudiyon Ka Hai Zamana where I was in my jeans. But later they told me it was the innocence of my face that struck them," says the actor.

Ashmit was also shooting simultaneously for Fight Club, where he plays a dark role. "The moment I donned the costume, I felt like the character I was to portray," says Ashmit. The actor says he only found it difficult to match Urmila’s steps "when she was dancing as she is a fabulous dancer".

Playing Soham’s role was not easy. Neither was assessing the film’s genre. "When I read the script for the first time, most of the things went over my head. And more I read it, the more I discovered new things about the script. But staying in Banaras and observing people’s body language did help while playing the character," says Ashmit.

The actor has Kudiyon Ka Hai Zamana, Dil Diya Hai, Friends Forever and Pakistani superstar Omar Sharrief’s debut Bollywood venture in hand. Ashmit gets philosophical when asked about his expectations from the film. "The Dalai Lama says there is a difference between expectations and reality," he says.