As somebody who dreamt of becoming a quintessential "hero" as a child, The Family Man star Sharib Hashmi's journey in the film industry has been nothing short of a real-life success story, full of "ups and downs".
Hashmi is currently enjoying the fruits of his hard work with the overwhelming response towards the second season of The Family Man. The 45-year-old actor, who plays the happy-go-lucky intelligence officer JK Talpade on the Amazon Prime Video series, said he is inundated with congratulatory calls, messages from the audience, as well as industry peers, since the June 4 premiere of season two.
“The first season had set a benchmark for itself and it was an advantage for all of us. Personally, for season one I received a lot of love but this time the reaction has been crazy. This is happening for the first time in my career. I am on cloud nine. Things are out of control.
"I didn’t expect it to surpass my expectations and I am feeling very emotional about it. For years I was craving for recognition and I am glad I got it from JK,” Hashmi told PTI in an interview. But, it has been a long road for the actor. Born in Mumbai to eminent film journalist ZA Johar, Hashmi says growing up he attended a lot of Bollywood parties with his father from where began his fascination with the world of movies.
"In my childhood I would often say 'I want to become a hero'. I didn't understand acting and all. I would go to the parties and 'mahurat', it was all lavish then. I was fascinated by the world and I wanted to be part of it," he added. His desire to join films was subdued by his belief that he was not tall enough to become a hero, but his love for entertainment led him to join television as a writer, Hashmi said.
"When I grew up, I was just 5'4 feet and felt that I couldn’t become a hero so I thought I don't want to become anyone else. But I wanted to do something in this line so I worked as an assistant director and started writing non-fiction shows for MTV and Channel V." Hashmi's initial acting gig was on the popular prank show MTV Bakra and he followed it up with a role of a slum-dweller in filmmaker Danny Boyle's Oscar-winning movie "Slumdog Millionaire".
The actor said he decided to audition for the India-set Hollywood feature on the suggestion of his friend. "I was auditioned for the role by Danny Boyle himself. It is a big opportunity for me." Along with Slumdog Millionaire, the year 2008 also marked the release of Hashmi's Hindi movie Haal-E-Dil, after which he decided to pursue acting full time. He quit his job and started auditioning actively, but nothing worked out.
"There have been a lot of ups and downs in my career. I made a decision about taking up acting and faced daily rejections. I was in a very bad state financially and finished all my savings." The financial crunch forced Hashmi to return as a writer to television, but soon he got the offer to work in Yash Chopra's 2012 romance drama Jab Tak Hai Jaan, and followed it up with a lead role in Nitin Kakkar's Filmistaan, that also released the same year.
Even though his performance was appreciated in both the projects, the actor didn't get the recognition he craved for till the premiere of The Family Man in 2019. “When the offer for 'The Family Man’ came I was hoping it would work as the project was big.” His spontaneity as a performer and his chemistry with lead star of the series, Manoj Bajpayee, attracted the audiences and soon his character, JK became a fan favourite, making Hashmi a household name.
The season one of the espionage action-thriller series, centred on Bajpayee's Srikant Tiwari, as he juggled between his the duality of being a middle class family man and a world-class spy, with JK always there by his side. In the latest sophomore season, JK continues to support Srikant as they fight a new, powerful and brutal adversary named Raaji, essayed by South star Samantha Akkineni. Hashmi believes the reason for JK's immense popularity is his unconditional love for his best friend Srikant.
“Everyone wants a best friend in their life and they see that best friend in JK. I feel that’s the biggest connection. The unconditional love between JK and Srikant is something people are loving," he said, adding that his bonhomie with Bajpayee keeps growing both on and off screen.
Post the success of the first season of The Family Man, Hashmi went on to star in another two acclaimed series Asur and Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story. Hashmi said he has read a few scripts, but is in no hurry to sign any new projects. "I don’t want to put myself into any category that I want to be the main lead or play the most important role. Length of the role doesn’t matter, what I look at it, is how pivotal it is to the story and who is the team on board," he said.
The Family Man season two also features Priyamani, Seema Biswas, Darshan Kumar, Sharad Kelkar, Sunny Hinduja, Shreya Dhanwantary, Shahab Ali, Vedant Sinha, Mahek Thakur and Ravindra Vijay among others.