While Rani Mukerji has been winning applause for her performance in the much appreciated MARDAANI, debutante Tahir Raj Bhasin is one actor who has also stood out exceptionally in the film. In a quick tête-à-tête, Tahir talks about debuting with Yash Raj Films, working with Rani Mukerji and much more. Excerpts:
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How did MARDAANI happen?
I was auditioning for almost two and a half years and this was not like the first audition. I met Shanoo Sharma (YRF’s casting director) socially and sent her my profile through YRF casting. But nothing concrete happened. Then for MARDAANI, I was called randomly in a group of 100 boys, from 100 it went to 50, 50 to 25 and finally I was shortlisted.
But weren’t you skeptical to debut with a negative role?
I wasn’t in a position to choose. Beggars can’t be choosers. It was Pradeep Sarkar along with YRF so I just had to go with whatever I had. The brief that I got was that I had to be more of an anti-hero and less like a villain. Of course, there was definitely a doubt in my mind whether this is the right thing to do or not. But I was given the freedom to experiment with my character and do something unusual with it. And the feedback that I have got is amazing. People have appreciated me for the role.
How was it working with Rani Mukerji?
It was scary! Scary for two reasons – one because you have grown up watching Rani Mukerji in KUCH KUCH HOTA HAI, BUNTY AUR BABLI impression and then to see her in this avatar was very scattering. Also in the film she is playing this tough cop so when you are scared from the inside it is very difficult to overpower someone like Rani Mukerji. I was nervous and excited at the same time. I remember I cried on the first day.
Your character was kept in dark and Rani Mukerji was on the forefront. Did that make you insecure?
There was definitely lot of anxiety. But I was told and it wasn’t a surprise. I was well prepared for it. Even if you look at the trailer now, I am in silhouette, I am in dark. So there was lot of buzz before the movie to know who this man is? Only after I watched the film, I understood why my character was kept in dark because if people knew my personality and had seen me, the impact of shock value would be less. So the response I am getting now is better than what I would have got even if my face was flashed on the posters or with the publicity.
You were also sidelined from the promotions. Did that worry you?
As a debutante I am very lucky that someone like Rani Mukerji is promoting a film that I have been a part of. I don’t think there was any question of insecurity especially when I was briefed. I had read the script and for the film to work, I knew that Shivani had to be very intimidating but Walt, my character, also had to be intimidating. So that last minute anxiety of being edited out was never there because if you edit Walt out, Shivani will fall and vice versa.
Now that the film has worked, what kind of response has been coming your way?
In hindsight, now I can say the planning worked. Up till Friday morning, I didn’t know what is happening. Everybody appreciated my work, but I thought that because I am a new comer, so they were boosting my morale. But when people started writing about me that is when I loved all of it. All of them said that they have hated my character but loved my performance. And I am glad that the nuances of my character were picked up across the board – classes and masses!