You return to the big screen after more than a year with 3 Idiots. Are you going the Aamir Khan way of doing only one film a year?
(laughs) No... not really. I've finished work on a couple of films- Toh Baat Pakki and Allah Ke Bandey. These films were supposed to release few months earlier than 3 Idiots but the multiplex strike kind of rescheduled the release dates and hence by default 3 Idiots is my only release this year.
How does it feel being a part of the most anticipated film of the year?
It's an honour to be part of this film. I feel lucky and completely blessed. It's a special film that comes your way once in a while. Being a part of a film made under Vidhu Vinod Chopra's banner, directed by Raju Hirani and starring Aamir Khan is a dream come true for any actor and I am fortunate that I could fulfill this dream.
First things first, how did you bag the film?
It's a very interesting story how I bagged the film. I was watching a film at a multiplex when I bumped into Raju Hirani in the toilet. He was there to check the first promo of Munnabhai Chale America. Surprisingly, he knew me and we exchanged pleasantries. He said he had something in mind for me and that was that. He got busy scripting the film and I didn't hear from him for quite a while. After many days, I again bumped into him again in the toilet of the same multiplex and both of us realized that this does seem like some karmic connection. He told me he was still busy writing the script and would get back to me when done. Many days later, he called me for a narration and the rest as they say is history.
Could you elaborate on what 3 Idiots is all about?
3 Idiots is a comic drama. It's a story of these 3 friends who meet at an engineering college. It does talk about the education system but it also talks about following your heart, chasing excellence and a lot of such things. It throws light on the choices we all make in the course of personal and professional career. Working on this film has enriched me as a person. It has re-affirmed my beliefs in myself. I hope people feel the same way when they watch the film.
When 3 Idiots was initially announced, it was talked about as a film based on Chetan Bhagat's 'Five Point Someone'. However now the makers seem to be saying that it's completely different from the book. Could you please clarify if it's based on the book.
Yes... 3 Idiots is based on Chetan Bhagat's novel 'Five Point Someone'. In fact he has been credited for that in the film. The book inspired Raju to make the film. But Chetan Bhagat was not involved with the screenplay of the film. The screenplay has been written entirely by Raju Hirani and Abhijat Joshi and they have changed it quite a lot from the book. So people shouldn't expect to see the same things that they have read in 'Five Point Someone' else they'll be disappointed.
Aamir's character Rancho is already been talked about a lot. Could you tell us a little about your character?
My character's name is Raju Rastogi. He comes from a very simple, ordinary family but is a brilliant kid academically. His father is a postman. Since his family is not really well-to-do they have a lot of expectations from him to relieve them of their poverty by getting a good degree and a good job. This kind of family pressure prevents my character from living life to the fullest.
3 Idiots gave you a chance to re-unite with your RDB co-stars Aamir and Maddy. So how was the experience this time around?
Truly special... it's been a complete riot. We've just continued the party further from the sets of RDB to the sets of 3 Idiots. Since we shared such a special bond during RDB there was no question of getting to know each other this time around. We boys had a blast together playing games, chatting about life, films, taking late night walks, partying till late.
Describe some idiotic things that you guys did on the sets / during the filming.
The one idiotic moment I can remember is when we were shooting the ragging sequence. Both Maddy and I had to take off our pants and were only in our underwear. Unfortunately for us, our set was put up right next to the girl's hostel. While we thought the girls wouldn't come near the shooting area, we were shocked to see them enjoying looking at us in our bare minimum. It was really quite an embarrassing yet idiotic moment.
The film has been shot amongst other places at the prestigious IIM-B campus. Talk us through your experience of shooting there.
It was a completely different experience shooting at IIM-B campus. The campus is a beautiful quiet place that is located far away from the city. It's a different world out there. It was so peaceful out there, a truly rejuvenating experience. After many years I finally slept for 12 hours at a stretch one day. The campus had many facilities such as a badminton court, tennis court, basketball court, And since all of us are pretty much into sports we had a blast playing all these sports with the students. We got a chance to completely live it up. Moreover, hanging out with the students and listening to their experiences in campus made us feel a lot younger which helped us in getting into the skin of the character.
How has been the experience working with Rajkumar Hirani, one of the most respected filmmakers of our country?
Raju Hirani is a special person. What can I say about him that has already not been said? The whole world has seen his talent as a director. In spite of achieving so much success, he is still incredibly humble and down to earth as a person. He has a completely democratic way of operating on the sets. He is always open for suggestions from anybody connected with the film and gives a patient hearing if you have a valid point. That is a quality which very few filmmakers possess.
The music of the film is slowly picking up. What do you feel about the music of the film and which is your favorite track?
The songs of the film are such that they will grow on you more after you have watched the film. I like 'Aal Izz Well', 'Give Me Some Sunshine' and 'Jaane Nahin Denge Tujhe'
You have even sung a few lines in a song 'Give Me Some Sunshine'...how did that happen?
Mr.Vinod Chopra is someone who is very actively involved even with the music of his film. He called me one day and told me that he wanted me to say a few lines in one of the songs. I was more than happy to do whatever I could for the betterment of the film so I went to the recording studio and said those lines.
All 3 of you have been given distinct looks... you seem to be seen mostly in kurtas... could you tell us a bit about your look and styling in the film?
Generally one associates a kurta with someone who is from a humble background and since my character is not so well to do in the film, the stylists thought it would be best to dress me in a kurta. The credit for the look goes to both the director and the stylist who have done a fabulous job.
Coming to your career, the general perception is that Sharman is a bundle of talent but is among the most underrated actors today. Some even feel that you are very laidback and have not capitalized on the success of films like RDB or Golmaal... what do you have to say about that?
No... that is not true. I am not at all laidback. In fact I am a bundle of nerves. I have been constantly reading scripts but unless there is something very exciting I don't feel like taking it up. I am extremely keen to do every good work, am willing to go that extra mile to achieve what I want to in my career. As far as not capitalizing on the success of Golmaal and RDB is concerned, I feel it was too early in my career to go tom-tomming about the fact that I was a part of those films. It was just the beginning of my career. I would rather let my work do all the talking.
Finally, could you tell us what's next after 3 Idiots?
After 3 Idiots, there is Toh Baat Pakki produced by Ramesh Taurani and directed by debutant Kedar Shinde. The film stars Tabu, Vatsal Sheth and Uvika. It's a complete entertainer and should be out early next year. There is Allah Ke Banday after that, again directed by a first time director Farooque Kabir. It's a redemption drama about boys from the slums and stars Naseeruddin Shah, Atul Kulkarni and Anjana Sukhani.