'I Love playing intense characters'

Debarati Palit Singh
Thursday, 2 May 2019

...says Aftab Shivdasani, who is playing one such role in Setters. He tells us why the film had to be made and working with Shreyas Talpade in it 

We last saw Aftab Shivdasani on the big screen in 2016. His last film, The Great Grand Masti, which had also leaked online, had released then. Post that, the actor was away from Bollywood. He is now back, promoting his new film Setters, which is creating all the right buzz. The film throws light on education racket in which brilliant students are sent in place of weak students to appear in examination for money. The film, which also stars Shreyas Talpade, Sonnali Sehygall, Ishita Dutta and Vija Raaz, is releasing today. Excerpts from the interview...

Story had to be told 
Aftab says that he signed the film because of many reasons. “The story revolves around education mafia and hence it had to be told. There are not too many films with emphasis on the education system, so I found Setters very interesting and fascinating. Also, the way Ashwini Choudhary has exposed the modus operandi of these setters and how they work, is interesting,” says the actor while promoting the film. He adds that Setters is not a fictional film, so all the characters are real. Aftab is playing a police officer for the first time, a role which he always wanted to play. “All the elements just fell in place,” he adds.  

Researching the subject 
The actor, known for films like Kasoor, Love Ke Liye Kuchh Bhi Karega, Hungama, Grand Masti, says that he hardly had any knowledge about the subject (education mafia) and therefore he had to do a lot of research. “When I was in college, I remember people used to stand outside the gate and say, ‘You will get tomorrow’s paper and this much marks and all’. I never paid attention to them because I couldn’t afford it and I wasn’t inclined towards it either. I never realised that the whole nexus of education mafia has been in existence for more than five decades. Today, because of the advances in the field of technology, the ways and methods of cheating have changed. Our film highlights all these,” explains Aftab.

The actor says he had to also research on his character because he is playing a real guy. “When the film is fictional, you can fictionalise certain aspects of your character. But this is not possible when it’s a true story. Everything has to be authentic, aesthetic and real. I had to stay in the parameters of this character. I had to be careful that I do not dramatise things too much,” he says.

Despite being a part of such a hard-hitting film, Aftab was not disturbed, but mentally excited. “When you are telling the truth, there is no reason to get stressed, but be confident about it. We are just showing the truth. Also, we are kind of giving back to society by showing what’s really happening. Having said that, we have made an entertaining film,” he adds. 

Collaborating with Shreyas Talpade
Aftab and Shreyas have worked together in The Great Grand Masti, in which the latter had an extended cameo. Setters is their second project together. The actor says, “Technically, Shreyas and I haven’t worked together in too many films. We would love to because Shreyas is so much fun and easy actor to work with. He is very sincere and professional. He and I are facing the same situation. We both were talked about when we were doing comedy films. But he also did a string of intense films and so have I. People somehow tend to remember what they want to. They just discard the rest. I am happy Shreyas got to play a grey shade and I a cop in Setters. It’s lot more exciting.” 

He adds, “Shreyas and I are not sharing too many scenes in the film but there are few scenes which are very dynamic.” 

Aftab started his career in Bollywood playing intense characters. It was later that he moved to light-hearted and comedy films. “I love playing intense characters. In fact, I love it a little more than doing comedy. That’s how I am. Comedy is a happy space but there are certain aspects that come out only through intensity,” he says.  

Working down South
After working in the Tamil film — Bhaskar Oru Rascal, Aftab is now making his debut in Kannada industry. He is part of Kotigobba 3. He says, “It’s nice working there. People are very hardworking. Language is a barrier but rest everything is the same. I just try to adapt myself to the character.” 
Ask him if there is any particular reason that he chose to stay away from Hindi films and Aftab, who has completed two decades in Bollywood, says, “There is no particular reason. I just want to do quality work and projects that I will be proud of. I don’t want to do films that will not give me creative satisfaction. So I was willing to wait. Hopefully the gap won’t be that long after this film.”

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