Ishaan Khatter made an impressive debut early this year with Beyond the Clouds, an independent film directed by internationally renowned filmmaker Majid Majidi. Though the film created a lot of buzz at the film festival, it didn’t do impressive business at the box-office. However, Ishaan walked away with accolades for his performance. Usually newbie actors start off their career by working in commercial films and then move on to doing independent cinema. But Ishaan chose the other way round.
“I followed my heart,” says the actor, who was in Pune recently to promote his film Dhadak, along with his co-star Jahnvi Kapoor, which is releasing today.
“I have no regrets and I am happy that I got to do Beyond the Clouds as my first film. It will always be my defining experience. It’s important to start with somebody who sets the tone for your craft, if I may say so. Majidi sir and the film chose me and Karan (Johar) was gracious to let me do that film before because I was in talks with him before Majidi sir. It was destiny,” adds Ishaan.
The young actor explains that he doesn’t like discriminating between films. “Obviously, I recognise the difference in how they are presented, the commercial aspect and how people are attached to it. But I believe that there are stories which move you and there are those that don’t. I would like to be a part of the former.” He adds that he will not choose projects based on their commercial or critical aspect. “As long as I can contribute to the film and story, I will be very happy to be part of these movies. I would like to be part of all kinds of films that resonate with me. If that means, I do one film that is presented widely and more accessible to a larger audience and another film which is made smartly, I will be happy to do both. I just want to work with people who are good at their job and passionate about it.”
Dhadak is a Hindi adaptation of the Marathi blockbuster Sairat. The film directed by Shashank Khaitan, is produced by Dharma Productions. Ishaan says that soon after he watched Sairat for the first time,
Shashank informed him that he wanted to adapt it into Hindi. “I had got completely involved in and consumed by the story because it’s such a brilliantly crafted film. I completely forgot the conversation I had had with Shashank before. It took me a while to come back to my senses after watching Sairat because it was so poignant and intense. Then we had more meetings and we got discussing about how he wanted to add more dimensions to the characters and adapt the story to Rajasthan, which was very exciting,” explains Ishaan, who is the younger brother of Shahid Kapoor.
He adds that he had watched Sairat twice before shooting for Dhadak but Shashank did not want him and Jahnvi to watch it any further. “He did not want us to get influenced by the performance of Rinku Rajguru and Akash Thosar. It was important to do that because Dhadak is a different film and it’s an adaptation and not a remake. It was important to create characters which are similar and yet have dimensions of their own. The basic thought behind that was that it should be a story that will resonate with people from across the country and an issue (honour killing) which is relevant everywhere and not state specific,” says the actor.
“Retaining the authenticity of the characters was challenging. Also, I had to remember that even though the story is based in Udaipur, we had to keep the tone of the character universal, so finding that balance was also a task for me,” he adds.
Ask him how important it is for him to trust his director’s vision while working on a project and he replies, “It’s of primary importance because if you have your own ideas as an actor and you are trying to do your own thing, you lose synchrony and the film goes haywire. The idea is to be on the same wavelength as the filmmaker so that you can tell your story efficiently and not go against his vision. I am fortunate to work with filmmakers who have a strong vision that resonates with me.”
When asked about the advice that Shahid has shared with him, Ishaan replies, “There are lot of things that he has told me. But the most important thing that he’s shared with me is, ‘Whenever you are doing a shot, always be honest. It should come from inside. Don’t perform for the camera to create a certain effect.”