The youngest actor in India to be nominated for Best Actor alongside Shah Rukh Khan, Darsheel Safary established new levels of acting excellence for a child actor in Taare Zameen Par. After some significant roles as a juvenile, he is now back to his chosen vocation.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q. Is it tough to believe you are now all grown up?
A: Ha ha. Yes. I am 19 now. Though I am still recognized as the kid from “Taare Zameen Par” (TZP), the memory has now blurred, thankfully.
Q. What have you been up to since TZP and the other films you did as a child?
A: After my phase as a child actor, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to continue as an actor. I wasn’t sure of anything. My Dad told me to take a clean break from acting. In Class 11 and 12, I just enjoyed my school and friends and studies.
Q: Then the acting bug bit you again?
A: Yup. Once an actor always an actor, In college I found myself doing a lot of amateur theatre, also 30-35 street plays. I was hooked. I knew I wanted to be nothing but an actor now.
Q: How did you get the chance to do the play that you are going to be doing at the National Centre Of Performing Arts?
A: When director Abhishek Pattnaik offered me a chance to share theatre space with stalwarts like Dalip Tahil and Ananth Mahadevan in a play called ‘Can I Help You?’, I didn’t have to think very hard before accepting the offer. This was just the kind of challenge I was looking for to take me into mature acting.
Q: Tell me about your role?
A: I play a character called Rikhab who is an aggressive fast bowler. I know fast bowlers are aggressive anyway. But Rikhab’s aggression goes beyond the cricket field. He is angry, he is resentful, he is seething from inside…until something happens to him. The character has fantastic growth during the course of the play. I feel very lucky to have got this role.
Q: Are you looking at a career in Bollywood?
A: Oh absolutely. But I am not in a hurry. I am only 19. I won’t sign a predictable teenybopper debut where I have to dance and sing and romance a chick. I want a debut as a leading man that would be a worthy follow-up to ‘Taare Zameen Par’. In the meanwhile, I am committed to my play for two years.