Nostalgia with Shreyas Talpade: “My mom assumed that acting was just a hobby!”

The actor-filmmaker talks about doing at least 30-35 shows a month then, cracking the film industry and idolising Rahul Dravid
Shreyas Talpade at 22 (instead) and at 45 (above)
Shreyas Talpade at 22 (instead) and at 45 (above)
Updated on Oct 09, 2021 09:39 PM IST
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By Dinesh Raheja

Where were you career-wise?

I was in a very happy space doing theatre. That year, I was part of a major hit called All the Best. I was doing at least 30-35 shows a month.

A photoshoot for which he arranged money by doing some jugaad
A photoshoot for which he arranged money by doing some jugaad

What was your bank balance?

There was a bank account in my name, jointly held with my mom. I made it a point to put only my earnings into that account and since my earnings were minuscule, there was hardly any balance.

Your romantic status?

I was career-oriented so, I consciously made an effort not to get romantically involved with anyone. Also, I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford it!

With wife Deepti at their wedding, one day before he left to shoot for Iqbal
With wife Deepti at their wedding, one day before he left to shoot for Iqbal

Your focus in life?

From theatre, I wanted to get into films. I didn’t have any contact except for my aunt (actress Jayashree T), but I wanted to make sure my craft reached everyone possible.

What was your fashion sense then?

Quite pathetic. That has not changed.

At a family function where he was asked to wear a pheta
At a family function where he was asked to wear a pheta

What was your dream?

To win the Oscar for Best Actor. 

Was your family supportive?

My dad was okay but my mom was rather sceptical and apprehensive about how I would cut it in the film industry without any contacts or a godfather. She wanted me to have a steady job and secure life, so she presumed acting was my hobby.

Shreyas (extreme left) with his Dachshund, Mimi, at his cousin Gaurish’s wedding
Shreyas (extreme left) with his Dachshund, Mimi, at his cousin Gaurish’s wedding

Your most prized possession then?

Birthday cards, friendship bands and rakhis—I don’t have a sister, but a lot of girls found me brother material. Fortunately, my wife thought otherwise.

One thing you’d change about that time?

If I had had someone to guide me I would have done a few things a little better. But no regrets. I learned a lot on the job and I think the achievements far surpass the mistakes.

Balasaheb Thackeray and the then Maharashtra chief minister Manohar Joshi watching Shreyas’s play All the Best
Balasaheb Thackeray and the then Maharashtra chief minister Manohar Joshi watching Shreyas’s play All the Best

An incident from those days that has stayed with you?

I remember going to Mukta Arts office in Bandra to drop off my pictures because Subhash Ghai was casting for a film and I was angling for a role, not for the lead. While climbing those stairs, I saw posters of his blockbusters including Karma and Ram Lakhan and thought, ‘Oh God, when will I have a poster like this?’ A few years later, they called to cast me in Apna Sapna Money Money and as I climbed up the stairs, I saw a big poster of Iqbal on the wall. That moment was both fulfilling and humbling.

A picture clicked by his father at their old house in Lokhandwala
A picture clicked by his father at their old house in Lokhandwala

You first won fame playing a cricketer in Iqbal. Your cricketing idols then?

Rahul Dravid. I still idolise him.   

A life lesson you have learnt?

You can have people help you, but it all boils down to you doing things your own way. I also learnt that women directors like Farah Khan (Om Shanti Om) and now Kashmira Shah (I’m shooting for her directorial debut) give detailed instructions. Does my wife do so too? That’s a given!

From HT Brunch, October 10, 2021

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Tuesday, October 19, 2021