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Awards, roles rain on Shiney

Saibal Chatterjee gets up and close with the actor. Shiney in Sudhir Mishra's next

india Updated: Mar 13, 2006 19:10 IST
WIDE ANGLE | Saibal Chatterjee
WIDE ANGLE | Saibal Chatterjee

Shiney Ahuja could not have asked for more. The actor has made a clean sweep of all the popular Bollywood awards for the best male debutant of 2005. But there is something is his demeanour that tells you that he knows that consistent quality, not merely a string of awards, which will guarantee him longevity on the Bollywood firmament.

His nuanced performance as the slithery, self-absorbed Vicky Malhotra in Sudhir Mishra’s critically acclaimed and commercially successful ode to a generation at the crossroads of ideological commitment and personal expediency, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, has fetched the actor as many as four awards in the male debutant category (Filmfare, Screen, Zee and Stardust).

The tally could well have been five. His name, Ahuja points with an obvious sense of achievement, is missing from the list of the year’s Apsara Award winners only because the prizes for excellence instituted by the Film and Television Producers Guild of India does not have a category for newcomers.

Shiney is excited about the cameo that he has landed in the Kunal Kohli-directed Yash Chopra production, Fanaah

But it isn’t just awards that Ahuja has been busy garnering these past few months. Roles have been flowing in as well with encouraging regularity and the Noida man who started his acting career with theatre guru Barry John is well poised to make the leap to the big time.

He is particularly excited about the cameo that he has landed in the Kunal Kohli-directed Yash Chopra production, Fanaah, starring Aamir Khan and Kajol. "It is only a guest appearance all right, but I see it as an opportunity, a great beginning. There is after all nobody who is bigger than Yash Chopra in mainstream Hindi cinema," says Ahuja.

As the Fanaah unit continues to shoot in Kullu valley, Ahuja is close to wrapping up his work in Anurag Basu’s Gangster, a thriller from the Mukesh and Mahesh Bhatt stable. "Only two days of shooting are left," he reveals.

Gangster has been in the news of late for two reasons. One, it is believed to be woven around details from the life of captured underworld don Abu Salem. And two, it is the first Bollywood flick ever to be shot in the city of Seoul.

The actor has been pencilled in to play one of the two pivotal roles in Mohit Suri’s next film, Woh Lamhe, which is reportedly loosely based on screenwriter Mahesh Bhatt’s own one-time relationship with the late actress Parveen Babi.

Also on the anvil is Rockin’, a musical drama directed by another Mahesh Bhatt protégée, Tanuja Chandra. The film will see him play a doctor caught in the web of circumstances opposite Sushmita Sen, cast as a rock star.

Ahuja is clearly beginning to find a foothold on the turf of mainstream Bollywood cinema. But, having cut his teeth in a film of the quality of Hazaaron KhwaisheinAisi, does he ever feel the need to alter his approach to his craft in the more conventional variety of Hindi cinema? "No, not at all," he asserts. "The set-up may change, but I do not modify my approach to my job as an actor."

An actor, asserts the quietly confident Ahuja, is worth nothing without a good script and a meaty role. "It’s a bit like a cinematographer. No matter how good he is he cannot do a thing if he doesn’t have sources of light at his disposal. Even the most talented actor cannot do much if he doesn’t have meaningful material to work with," he explains.

Sudhir Mishra, of course, remains a key influence on him. Ahuja is slated to join yet another hugely promising Bollywood newcomer, Vidya Balan, in the director’s next venture, Bahut Nikle Mere Armaan, a period film set in the Mumbai film industry of the 1950s.

It is easy to see why Ahuja hits it off so well with Mishra. "During the making of Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, we hardly needed to communicate with words. That was the level of our understanding. He told me what to do and I did it. At other times, I did what my instinct told me and he allowed it," says the actor who is going places.

The confidence that Ahuja has derived from the Hazaaron… experience – and the subsequent cachet represented by the critical accolades that have come his way – have placed him on the road to bigger things. His is a career that will be worth keeping an eye on as it unfolds in the course of what could be a make-or-break year for him.

First Published: Mar 13, 2006 21:00 IST