Indresh Malik aka Heeramandi’s Ustaad ji reveals why the nath scene with Sonakshi Sinha is the most special for him - Hindustan Times
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Indresh Malik aka Heeramandi’s Ustaad ji reveals why the nath scene with Sonakshi Sinha is the most special for him

May 31, 2024 03:35 PM IST

Actor Indresh Malik, who plays the role of Ustaad Ji in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Heeramandi, talks about working with an ensemble cast and his favourite scene.

Actor Indresh Malik is perhaps going through the best phase in his career as he has been garnering immense love and praise for his portrayal of Ustaad Ji in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s web show Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar. Feeling “blessed and thankful” for the opportunity he got, Malik says that the show has only made him seek further perfection in his work.

Indresh Malik and Sonakshi Sinha in a still from Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Heeramandi
Indresh Malik and Sonakshi Sinha in a still from Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Heeramandi

“As a greedy artist, I am always craving perfection. Even when I look back at my performance, I feel I could have done a little better. But if my director is satisfied, then I am happy. An artist never feels content,” says Malik, confessing that he is yet to watch all the episodes of the show.

Also Read: Heeramandi review: Sanjay Leela Bhansali's sprawling, sparkling debut show is blissfully free of his cinematic trappings

Sharing screen with an ensemble cast

Working with an In the show, Malik got to share screen space with several established artistes including Manisha Koirala, Sonakshi Sinha, Richa Chadha, Aditi Rao Hydari among others. However, he stresses that it was a very warm atmosphere on the set.

“There was no feeling of intimidation, and I am not sounding diplomatic when I say this because I am very blunt when it comes to giving opinions. It was all team work. It’s like when different flowers are put together and you get a beautiful garland — they all should match each other to stick together. So, it was an extremely enjoyable journey,” says the actor, adding, “I had maximum scenes were with Manisha ji and Sonakshi ji, and they’re all learned people, so I absolutely loved it.”

Asked if there’s any one particular scene that he’s proud of, Malik says it’s tough to choose one, as there are actually quite a few. “The one scene I’m really proud of and which will always be my favourite is the nath scene where Sonakshi’s character Fareedan puts the nose ring on me. That scene had a lot of shades and vulnerability without any dialogues. It portrays the character’s emotional side that someone loves him, respects him, owns him for who he is. I remember I went deep into the skin of the character, and it took me quite some time to get out of that specific emotion and stop crying, so it will always remain a special memory,” shares Malik.

Other than this, the actor recalls, “The climax seen where I gave the pistol to Sharmin Sehgal’s character Alamzeb was also very intense. And then the scene where Richa Chadha’s character Lajjo dies had us mourning, so that, too was very emotional to shoot.”

Delving deep into Ustaad’s character

With all the effeminate traits that he effortlessly showcased on the show, Malik explains how Bhansali actually conceptualised Ustaad’s character. “The multifaceted nature of my character was a combination of the demand of the script, Bhansali sir’s vision, and the need to bring the character to life authentically. It had multiple shades and layers, and the kind of mannerisms Bhansali sir wanted, perfectly suited the character,” shares the actor, known for films such as Fanney Khan, Maska and Gumraah.

He further explains, “Ustaad Ji’s back story remains a mystery till the end. We can only speculate about the pain and exploitation he may have endured. This environment, coupled with the constant presence of the courtesans in Heeramandi, might explain his adoption of certain feminine mannerisms. Ustaad Ji is likely on a journey of self-discovery, grappling with his desires and struggling to define his identity.”

While Heeramandi never really outlines it explicitly, there were enough and more hints about Malik’s character potentially belonging to the LGBTQAI+ community. “While the terminology LGBTQAI+ may be relatively new in our society, the experiences they represent are not. These characters have always existed, and their stories deserve to be told,” says the actor.

On Sharmin Segal facing backlash

Talking of performances and characters, one can’t look past the brutal criticism that Sharmin Segal’s character, Alamzeb has been receiving. Bring it up with Malik and he acknowledges the audience’s right to critique.

Also Read: Heeramandi's Taha Shah Badussha on co-star Sharmin Segal getting trolled: She is strong and will get through it

“Everyone has a right to criticise. You might like something and someone else might not like that. There have been masterpieces in the history of Hindi cinema that have been rejected, and today we call them masterpieces. Take for instance Mera Naam Joker — it was rejected by people and later on it became a classic. So, if initially, audience’s haven’t liked something or some performance, it doesn’t imply that the person hasn’t acted well or the person can’t perform,” says Malik, adding, “Mark my words, Sharmin will go places. She’s a wonderful human being, a wonderful soul. I had a wonderful time working with her.”

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