Aayush Sharma may be known for his political lineage and for being superstar Salman Khan's brother-in-law, but the actor confesses that the break into films didn't come easy. He admits that he never looked at the profession of acting seriously until LoveYatri happened. While the nepotism word might crop in now and then, but Aayush maintains that he is ready to take up all the challenges which will come his way.
With LoveYatri finally hitting the marquee this Friday, Filmibeat caught up with Aayush Sharma for a quick chat about the film, debuting under a big banner, the N-word, politics and much more.
Excerpts from the conversation-
With LoveYatri, your long cherished dream comes true. Did you always wanted to be an actor?
I had been training for it for the past four years. Finally, I will be on the big screen and I am excited about it. (laughs)
I never thought I could be an actor. I never took myself or the acting profession seriously because I didn't have any roots to that. I didn't know anybody from the industry. I remember I was at a gym when Sohail bhai (Sohail Khan) told me that he has a film for me. This was about five years back. However, the conversation didn't go forward. I didn't get to meet him again. When I met Salman bhai (Salman Khan), he too told me that I should be an actor, and that's when I started pursuing acting as a career. I thought if he believes that I do have the potential to become an actor, then I might as well give it a try. I always loved watching films. So, I started training. But the turning point actually happened during Bajrangi Bhaijaan where I joined as an assistant to learn the chops. Though I am related to a film family, I don't have the experience of a star kid. That's where I learnt what happens behind the camera. Bajrangi Bhaijaan went on to become a huge hit and received critical acclaim as well. For me at that point, I felt it was my film. That's was my first introduction to the magic of films. Suddenly, I wanted to be a part of this world. I wanted to dance in front of the camera. From there on, I began my training process.
Prior to this, for the longest time I was planning to open a restaurant in Mumbai to earn my daily bread. That's what I even told Salman during our first meeting when he asked me what I wanted to do in my life. Now I think, if e wouldn't have given me a launch after training me, then I would have just struggling as an actor.
Like you mentioned, you weren't serious about the acting profession. But now that you are all set to make your debut, has your perception about this profession changed?
I don't reconsider myself to be an actor. Instead, I call myself a student of acting as I have a long way to go. Twenty years later, Inshallah, if I have a successful career having done different characters that I can talk about, then one day I think I would like to talk about acting. Right now, my job is to entertain, make people smile, laugh and cry with me. That's my goal. Just like how Bajrangi Bhaijaan became a cult hit, I as an actor want to deliver a film that goes down in history and I am known for that film.
Has your family been supportive of your decision to act in films? What were their reactions?
Initially, my father was very apprehensive about it. While growing up, I was never into extra-curricular activities at school. I was never into dramatics or in any dance groups. When he got to know that I want to be an actor and have chosen that path, he told, "Listen, we come from a political background. My audition happens every five years. Yours will happen every Friday." He feared how I would face the camera since I was an introvert. I asked him to let me just give it a try. Now that he has seen my stuff on the camera, he is very happy. My family still can't believe that it's me on the camera. Now, they are very supportive. They are proud of me.
After things didn't work out with Sohail Khan and you had to wait for five years to get your big break with LoveYatri, was the period easy for me?
Actually, I wasn't struggling for those five years. Back then, I had just completed my graduation. After that I was trying to figure out what I was going to do next in Mumbai. That was when I met Sohail bhai. After two years later, I met Salman through Arpita. During that period, I was planning to open a restaurant. Intitially people used to call me a businessman, when actually I was an aspiring one.
When the trailer and the songs released, they got a massive response. But at the same thing, there were some section of people who posted negative comments related to nepotism on social media. What's your take on that?
There are a lot of people out there who are very hard-working and deserve an opportunity to go out there and get a platform. Unfortunately, they don't. I am lucky to get that platform. Obviously, there is a sense of support from somebody like Salman Khan. I can''t deny that. I can only say that I am lucky and thankful. Having said that, I also feel that he can put me in front of the camera. From there on, it's the relationship between me and the audience. The audience will accept me purely on the basis of my talent .If I am not talented and if they don't like what I am doing on-screen, irrespective of whosoever's relative I am, they ain't going to put me back on screen. Since ages, we have seen that actors belonging to big film backgrounds have not worked. And sometimes, actors who don't have any such backgrounds click.
I am ready to take all the challenges which will come my way. I am somebody who doesn't take 'No' for an answer. I think there's a positive side to rejections as well. There are several people who ask me that about the pressure that comes in with making a debut under such a big banner and I tell them that it's a blessing to have the support of such a huge name and that's one of the reasons why the film is getting talked about. Otherwise, it's difficult for a debutante director and actor to create that buzz.
Was there any influence or persuasion for you to enter politics?
I feel politics is something which needs to come to me with time and age. Right now, I am too young for it and inexperienced as well. Just because my family is from a political background, that doesn't necessarily make me a good leader. A family lineage is not supposed to be carried on if you don't have it in you.
Were you offered any films before LoveYatri?
Yes, I was offered a couple of films; some from different production houses and some from SKF as well. But there was a certain kind of doubt which I had in my mind with those scripts. I was very particular about the fact that I wanted to take up a script which I was very confident about. Because good, bad or ugly, nobody can decide the fate of a film. But if you are proud about the script that you started off with and your heart was happy being a part of that fillm, irrespective of whatever happens to the film, you will also be proud about it. When I heard the narration of LoveYatri, I thought it was a beautiful film and immediately wanted to be a part of it. I couldn't have asked for a better launch than this! It's my first film and I have got eight songs in it, Manish Malhotra's costumes, Vaibhavi Merchant's choreography, Abhiraj's direction, a great plot with, great music and Salman Khan's name. I couldn't have asked for anything bigger!
From hereon, is Salman Khan going to mentor you because he is known to take the people whom he launches under his wings?
I have always been under his wings. But one thing about him is he always wanted me to learn from him and fly away the day I get launched. Today, he tells me that whatever films are offered to me after Loveratri, I should discuss with him only if I feel like. He has asked me to go ahead and make my own choices. Even as a producer of LoveYatri, he would never come on sets. He just told us to make an entertaining family film. I would love him to be a part of my career. I would love to have him around because he has impeccable knowledge and experience. He is successful because of a reason. So, I would want his valuable inputs in my career because I am too new and still finding my ways. It's better to be cautious than regret.
Salman Khan has a criteria that he won't kiss on-screen. Do you also have a certain inhibitions as well?
For me, yes. I don't really feel the need for any kissing scenes in a film. I am not that school of thought. I don't feel any love story becomes grand if there's a kissing scene. It doesn't really work for me. I would refrain from doing something like this at least for now. I am too shy as a person. I think I would be red-faced if my wife and kid has to see that. (laughs). I highly doubt I would be doing something like this. I will try my best to wriggle out of such situations.
How does your son Ahil reacts when he sees you on screen?
He never knew what I do. So every time he was told Papa has to go to work. he didn't understand. He is too young to understand what we are doing. But now, he sees me onscreen and listens to my music. Every time he sees me on TV, he says, 'Papa', your song Chogada'. Nowadays whenever he comes out, he wants people to play that song. He connects that song to me. That's something very special for me.
What advice did you get from Salim Khan?
There's a big age gap between me and my father-in-law (Salim Khan). So, our communications are very limited. But when I was about to shoot for the film , he called to Galaxy and congratulated him. He told me one thing which was one of the biggest lessons he gave me that day.
He quoted Marlon Brando and told me , 'Aayush, success is the biggest driving factor that makes an actor. There is nothing known as acting. So, go on the sets without thinking that it's your first film. Instead go on the sets thinking that you are already successful and have already arrived. That confidence should come on screen because you shouldn't come across as trying to prove anything to anybody. You are a black slate. Nobody knows your acting caliber. More so because you are Salman's brother-in-law, they expect nothing out of you. So, the advantage is you can take people by surprise." That advice was something which I really value.
He told me on my face, 'You are an underdog. You ain't a filmy kid nor have any experience about the same. But yet, people think that you are supposed to be good. So whatever you do, do it with confidence and you will succeed." That was something which really helped me on the first day of my shoot.
After LoveYatri, are you open to experimenting with dark cinema?
For now, I want to entertain. Not only with family films, but also with something that is more entertainment-driven, action films as well. For the next couple of years, I would like to go as many people's houses as I can with my films. I would try to entertain maximum number of films because once I have a certain number of people who watch my films, that's when I can experiment. I don't really watch a lot of dark films because I am not really one of those people who watches films that depress on a bad day. I watch masala films for entertainment and have a good time. I want my films to stand for entertainment and be a good 'paisa-vasool' fare.