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“I was a body double to Akshay Kumar,” says Shiv Darshan on his big screen debut and future plans
How did you approach your debut film ?
I come from a film family and always wanted to be a part of the Hindi Film Industry but acting was not my first choice. I would have probably become a technician, a distributor or anything related to movies, but not an actor for sure.Then a particular incident took place after which acting became my drug of choice. My father was shooting for Talaash in 2002 starring Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor. For some reason Akshay Kumar could not attend the shoot on medical grounds so my Father called me up to be a body double for Akshay. I was still in school in those days and had rushed to the set late at night. My hair was chopped, I wore his costume, put make up on and gave the shot which was really simple. It was a wide shot where I had to kind of give a passing while Kareena was dancing in the foreground. I really loved the entire experience of being on set, being pampered, putting make up on and at that moment I decided to pursue acting as a career. I worked on myself. I know it sounds like a true Bollywood cliche but I was really obese so I started going to the gym regularly, doing gymnastics and working on my acting skills. I went to Kishore Namit Kapoor’s Acting Lab and Anupam Kher’s An Actor Prepares and at the same time took dancing lessons in Mumbai. In fact I learnt the Indian Classical Dance form Kathak too.
But I still felt that I needed to learn more so I went to New York for two years and pursued acting in the New York Film Academy and took dance lessons at the Broadway Dance Center. Even after coming back my cinema education of analysing films, actors, great Directors of different eras still continues. My Father asked me what kind of cinema I want to be a part of as my first so I told him that I want to do this really modern, fresh contemporary, wholesome entertainer and so this was taken into consideration for Karle Pyaar Karle where I play Kabir Syal, an adrenaline junkie, a dare devil biker who has a fetish for playing bets, dares, taking up challenges just for the kick of it. He is a rebel with a golden heart and loves living life on the edge. Personally speaking Kabir Syal is totally opposite of Shiv Darshan,so it took a while for me to get into the character. I am no dare devil biker so initially I had to get used to the bike and then learn the bike stunts for six months, one of which can be seen in the promo where I do a bike stoppie and kiss Preet. The action and dance came easily to me, thanks to my gymnastics and training over the course of years.
Did you have to work on your look?
The moment I decided to pursue acting as a career I had to start working on myself as I was not the fittest of all. I weighed 130 kgs with a 40 inch waist so I started hitting the gym, doing cardio and weights with a strict diet and a disciplined lifestyle. At the same time I took training in gymnastics and dancing lessons in Mumbai and abroad, hoping that it will improve my body aesthetically and help me in flexibility for action and dance.
Being an industry kid, how easy or tough do you see your journey?
Being from the film fraternity has its plus and minus points. The advantages being that you might get your first break easily and you get cinema education and film grooming since a very young age, which is essential for an actor. The disadvantage being that people have this misconception that you are born with a silver spoon and have it easy in life and somewhere they victimise you. But at the end of the day it is your ability which is going to take you places, whether you are from the film fraternity or not.
What are the aspects of Hindi cinema do you love the most?
Each popular Hindi movie is incomplete without music and dance and there have been innumerable instances where music has been the main driving force behind the commercial success of the movie.There are multiple genres happening simultaneously and everything is heightened:the hero’s heroism,the heroines’s beauty and the villian’s evil.
Which is your favourite film of your father’s?
The dynamics of relationships, strong emotional content, purposeful story line and melodious music have been his forte..Jaanwar – the story of a child and an untamed man, then Ek Rishta – The Bond of Love which spoke about a father and son relationship are two of my favourites from his collection..
Which is your next film?
Currently I am still tied up with the post release promotional activities of Karle Pyaar Karle and channelising all my energies towards this. Fortunately I have been well received. The response has been positive. There are projects in the pipeline which are too premature to be mentioned now. But I should be giving you some good news soon.