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A YRF movie, that too, with Salman Khan.... Now that's something one could never think of as a bollywood debut. On the top of that, rare are such actors who could leave a lasting impression amongst the audiences, in spite of the presence of a superstar in the film.
Here we are talking about Paresh Pahuja who has made his debut in Tiger Zinda Hai as a co-star. He played the role of an Indian Army Sniper in the film. His role in the film was strongly crafted by director Ali Abbas Zafar. In an exclusive chat with Filmibeat, Paresh says, 'Your first film getting successful means people noticed and liked your work. This raises your confidence in your work.'
Excerpts from the interview:
Tiger Zinda Hai is doing massive collection at the Box Office, and your performance is also getting so much appreciation. So how does it feel now?
I don't understand much about this box office and numbers, but yes, I am really excited and humbled with the response coming in from the audience. People are dicussing about my character (Azaan Akbar), my social media followers increased.. I am living my dream right now.
How did you bag the movie, Tiger Zinda Hai?
I had given two rounds of auditions for this movie. The casting director of film, Shanoo Sharma called me and said that I saw your advertisement and liked the work. She called for an audition without any brief. I didn't even know for which movie I was giving audition. They gave me a scene from Sultan. I did my best and came back. After that I resumed my work.
Then after a month, I got a call again from YRF for the second audition. There were 15 more actors and we gave audition in pairs. Until then, I didn't know for which film I was auditioning. After few more days, I got a final call from Shanoo. She said - you got the film.... I went to YRF office again, and got a small brief about my role. It was like a dream come true moment.
Mostly actors want to make a bollywood debut with a lead role. What made you opt for a supporting role?
Yes, I wanted to debut with a lead role. But when I got this script, I simply loved Azaan Akbar. And I loved Azaan because he is the only character who has a very strong motive, who is very determined and driven.. and personally in real life I am like that.. driven towards my dreams. I am very much like Azaan.
And also I have always been a Yash Raj Film fan. It was like my dream to work in a Yash Raj film.
How did you prepare for the role of Azaan Akbar?
We have got a special team from UK for action sequences under Tom Struthers. So, they used to teach us how to hold a rifle, how to walk with a rifle properly.. and every detail. These trainings helps you to be truthful to your character. We did this training almost a month. Moreover, I prepared myself on a personal level too. I read so many books, met many army officers to understand their way of thinking and reacting.
How was the first day of your shoot.. nervous or excited?
I am pretty confident infront of camera. I've already done more than 25 advertisements. I have been around directors and all. But yes, first day in a Yash Raj film was something else. I have never seen such a giant set in my life. And at the same I was not habituated for getting so much pampered.. personal car, personal vanity, personal spot boy. It was quite hard for me to digest all these.
Then comes the first shot.. in which all of us.. I, Angad Bedi, Kumud Mishra, Salman Khan and Paresh Rawal enter into the oil refinery. The four legends and me, the newest boy in the indutry. But post the scene, all of them along with Salman Sir looked at the scene on the monitor. Salman Sir stood up and gave me a warm hug. We became a family on the sets. Angad was like a big brother to me.
You got to work with Salman Khan in your debut film, so how was the experience?
He was like a big brother to me.. that's how he took care of me. He guides you in acting, give some workout tips.. He is such a beautiful person and so caring. Not only to me, but to everybody. Now I know, why people love him so much. I want to learn this thing from Salman Khan. How to be so humble and clear at the peak of your stardom. Many time during the scenes, he helped me. He suggested that if one approach was not working try another. And those are very technical things. I will treasure these moments for a lifetime.
How was it sharing screen with Katrina Kaif?
She is hard working to another level. Not just hard working but sincere too. Even we newcomers can sometimes skip the daily routine of gymming and training. But Katrina never compromises with this. Even if shoot ends at 2 am, she will do the workout, training, and action training. She never misses her lines in the scene.. never.. She is very simple and approachable. I learnt a lot from her.
So, how has your life changed after the immense success of Tiger Zinda Hai?
More offers, better offers.. big productions, big directors.. People noticed me now and directly approaching for a film. So yeah, life has changed.
Any wishlist of directors?
My dream director is Adi Sir (Aditya Chopra). My dream and desire is to work with Aditya Chopra. The other director I truly worship is Raju Hirani. I would do anything in this world to do a film with Raju Hirani. Zoya Akhtar and Imtiaz Ali are also in the list.
Are you open to supporting roles in upcoming projects too?
This is a very tricky question actually. When I say no, people might think stardom overpowered me. But if I say yes, than I might start getting a lot of those. I just want to say that, I want to be a star. Not just fame or money.. but I just want to be a superstar to make a change in the world. When you are a star people listen to you. You can make a lot of difference to the world. So I want to have that power. I will use that power to make this world a better place to live in.
How was the experience of working with Ali Abbas Zafar? How was he on the set with cast and crew?
Ali Abbas Zafar is a very energetic and clear person. He is someone who manages everybody. Ali Abbas Zafar never gets confused about what he wants in a shot, he is so much clear and composed. Even while shooting I asked him many questions about Azaan, my character, like about his background, his family, his thoughts. And I am quite shocked that, he knew everything. He explained everything about Azaan. Ali Abbas Zafar is like a genius for me. I want to work with him again and again.
So, when can fans see your next film?
Hopefully in 2018. I just want to do a lot of films, some good work with good directors.