Vipin Sharma Interview: Films should make people think and not just entertain

If you are a real Bollywood buff, then the mere mention of actor Vipin Sharma would remind you of Aamir Khan’s critically and commercially successful film, Taare Zameen Par, where he played father to child artist Darsheel Safari’s character, Ishaan Nandkishore Awasthi. It was Sharma’s debut role which, as good luck would have it, catapulted him to a position where directors and producers are drawn to him with movie offers. Since Taare Zameen Par, the actor par excellence has played pivotal characters in many successful films such as 1920, Zannat, Karthik Calling Karthik, Paan Singh Tomar and Shahid, to name just a few. His next outing is Daas Dev which reunites him with eminent filmmaker Sudhir Mishra after Yeh Saali Zindagi. Ahead of the release of the political thriller film, which is actually a reversed take on Sharat Chand Chattopadhyay’s classic Bengali novel, Devdas, our correspondent, Mohnish Singh, catches up with the talented actor for an interview. Excerpts…

Tell us something about your role in Daas Dev.

I play one of the lead roles in it. Ramashray Shukla is a ruthless politician who is so addicted to power that he will do anything for it. He is the key element in all of the twists in the tale.

How was it to work with Sudhir Mishra once again after Yeh Saali Zindagi?

Since YSZ, Sudhir and I have also become close friends. For me, our bond is very special. I will never say no to him as I know he really believes in me fully as an actor. What I love about working with him is that he makes you really think a lot about your role. He keeps questioning your motives via your role.

You have played so many diverse roles in the past few years. Which one is closest to your heart?

It’s like choosing one of your many kids as your favourite. I say yes to a role only if I like it a lot. If my heart says go for it, I sign a film otherwise I refuse. Even if I do it for money, I still measure its impact on me emotionally.

What do you look for in a script before signing a film?

I try to see a human angle in it. I believe films should make people think and not just entertain.

You have also been part of the digital medium. Do you think that the emergence of the medium might pose a great threat to traditional movie viewing in theatres?

I guess it already has impacted a lot. Like in the US, many decades ago most of the writers went on to do television which became so powerful. Same is happening now in India. Almost all filmmakers are doing web series. Digital and traditional movie-going will run parallel though.

If I am not wrong, you did a television show Bharat Ek Khoj way back in 1988, but since then the audience has never seen you on TV. Does TV not excite you?

I don’t like the hurry on TV. Everything is rushed. Not much time is given to writing and acting. They don’t have time. It’s like you are working in a factory. Long hours only focussed on the product. The quality doesn’t matter. It’s a mass production.

What attracted you to begin a career as an actor?

My poverty. I grew up in a slum. We had no electricity, no television, so we depended on the mercy of the rich people who lived nearby to have us watch movies which I had fallen in love with. I was once so insulted and asked to leave that I decided that one day the same people who don’t feel I am worthy of entering their house will see me on their TV sets.

How do you see your journey in Bollywood over the years?

Very exciting and also very tough. I feel an actor’s desire to do really good roles is sometimes seen as a desperation. I keep thinking of Irrfan (Khan) who struggled for so many years but never gave up his quest. I also had an opportunity to work with Naseer sir while working as an AD on movies like Mirch Masala and Hero Hiralal. Then you take Nawaz’s struggle. These are the inspiring journeys. I feel I have just begun.

Have you progressed in your acting career as you have expected?

I came back to acting and India after almost a hiatus of 14 years or so. All I knew that I wanted to act again, re-invent myself. So getting Taare Zameen Par as my first film was not an expectation at all; it was a huge surprise. Then came the expectations of wanting to do roles other than the angry dad. I have been fortunate that I have broken that stereotype and have played different roles.

Who is your favourite filmmaker, and why?

I have a tendency to bond immediately with filmmakers I work with. I am also misunderstood a lot as I try very hard to stay in touch with them. So my list is getting longer.

Besides Daas Dev and Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai, what are your upcoming projects?

I recently shot for an Amazon Prime web series The Gormint along with Irrfan. Also, just finished shooting a film called Gone Kesh. I am about to finish a web series called Akki Vikki Te Nikki which I wrote, edited and directed. I made a silent one-hour long film consisting 3 short stories in the Goan monsoons called Baarish. I have started to send it around to various film festivals.