ASHWATH BHATT chats can­didly about Raazi, play­ing Manto for around 20 years and his love for the craft of act­ing with Ankit Shah.

Stardust (English) - - TÊTE-À-TÊTE -

What made you choose Raazi?

The script was amaz­ingly writ­ten and who would any­way say, ‘no’ to Meghna Gulzar? The way Meghna told us how she was go­ing to han­dle the script and the movie gave me con­fi­dence that I was in the right hands.

How chal­leng­ing was it for you you to play a pak­istani army of­fi­cer?

I would say every role is equally chal­leng­ing be­cause you want to do amaz­ing work in ev­ery­thing you do. The screen time doesn’t re­ally mat­ter. The ref­er­ences help you but at the end what mat­ters is how you per­form. The real chal­lenge was recre­at­ing the Pak­istani Army Of­fi­cers of 1971. The uni­form was re­ally dif­fer­ent and the body­line was not the same as well. Meghna re­searched about the uni­form in great de­tail and was also par­tic­u­lar with each pro­nun­ci­a­tion. I haven’t seen any­one work with that kind of de­tail­ing.

How was it work­ing with Vicky kaushal and alia Bhatt?

It was ab­so­lutely fab­u­lous work­ing with Alia and Vicky. Both are dream co-stars to have. I was for­tu­nate to be work­ing with Vicky or Alia or even Arif sir or Jaideep. Ev­ery­body was warm. Alia was so very warm. She had no airs about her and she was so chilled out. Vicky and I gelled so well. I have seen Masaan and I loved Vicky in the movie. It was great see­ing every­one con­trib­ute to a scene. It teaches you a lot as an ac­tor.

Can you share some anec­dotes from be­hind the scenes?

We were stuck in Pa­tiala dur­ing the ri­ots that had taken place dur­ing the en­tire Ram Rahim con­tro­versy. We couldn’t even move out of the ho­tel gate. There was a ta­ble ten­nis court in the ho­tel, so Arif sir, Shishir sir, Vicky and I de­cided to play ta­ble ten­nis. It be­came like a Raazi Cham­pi­onship. While we were play­ing, we got to know that Shishir ji was a state cham­pion for ta­ble ten­nis aur wohhu med ho d hoke hume ha ra ra­hethey. While we were play­ing, we re­ferred to each other by our char­ac­ter names. We also hosted ter­race get to­geth­ers and used to pull each other’s legs a lot.

How was it work­ing with arif Zakaria?

I have been a huge fan of Arif sir since I was a stu­dent be­cause when I was in school Chu­nauti had re­leased and it was amaz­ing work­ing with him. The best thing about him is that he com­pletely changes with every frame. He just brings such ver­sa­til­ity to the screen. Even Meghna was awestruck at the way Arif sir per­formed. His trans­for­ma­tion was amaz­ing and the way he per­formed, every ac­tor should see and learn. We are still in touch

post Raazi, you are also star­ring in Manto, how was it work­ing with Nan­dita Das and Nawaazudin Sid­dique?

I know Nawaz bhai from our days at the NSD and I had met him many times dur­ing the film­ing of Manto as well. When­ever we meet, we de­bate about world cinema, good films and good ac­tors. We also would de­bate about pol­i­tics and other is­sues in the world. Manto is re­ally close to my heart as I have played Manto for close to 20 years on stage. I’ve been to Pak­istan and have done huge re­search on Manto. I have ac­tu­ally slept in the same bed­room in which Manto slept in Lakshmi Man­sion in La­hore. What I find amaz­ing about Manto is that he was un­apolo­get­i­cally and he tried his level best to teach peo­ple about the ill ef­fects of Par­ti­tion.

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