Free Press Journal

The ‘Shab’ of casting couch


Actor Ashish Bisht, who is a known face in the field of advertising and has been a face for several renowned brands, is making his Bollywood debut with Onir’s ‘Shab’. While he has managed to bag a debut with an ace director like Onir, to add a cherry on the cake, he will be romancing sultry actress Raveena Tandon. Set in Delhi, ‘Shab’, which also stars Arpita Chatterjee and French actor Simon Frenay, is a story of people coming from different walks of life, some in the search of love and some for fulfilling their dreams. How they get caught in the web of circumstances of an unforgiving city forms the rest of the story. Although Ashish has been in the industry for long, he admits he was nervous working with Raveena, especially during the intimate scenes. Excerpts from the interview:

You have done a lot of TV commercials, so how did Shab happen?

I met Onir when I was working in Delhi, at that time I was working for an event management company. A friend of mine recommended that I meet Onir, as she knew that I was passionate about acting. So I auditioned for Onir’s ‘I Am’ and it went very badly. Then I came to Mumbai and started doing advertisements. During this time, I was in touch with Onir and used to regularly take guidance from him regarding various projects. Then when he came up with Shab, I auditioned for him again. This time, however, the audition went well and I got the part. Later on, we had workshops and I was trained by Adil Hussain and Tannishtha Chatterjee.

So tell me more about your character in the film…

I would tell you very briefly about my character. This guy is from a very small town and has come to Mumbai to become a model. This a story of a guy’s struggle to fulfil his dreams. The fashion world is, I don’t know how to describe it, except that it is so fake. So to be a part of this world, people literally change themselves and so does my character, he even loses the innocence with which he started his journey into to this brutal industry.

Also Read: ‘Shab’ movie review: Onir’s beauty and the Bisht

Have you ever faced situations that were similar to your character?

I have been in the industry for six years now, I had started off as a model, but did not wish to pursue it as I did face similar situations. Girls have their own set of problems, but men too face uncomfortable situations. Then when I came to Mumbai, I started with TV commercials, and when you are new in a field it is difficult to differentiate who is genuinely trying to help you and who is taking advantage of you. But I was lucky that I could figure out a person’s intention quickly.

How easy was it to bring out the chemistry with Raveena, were you nervous as she is such an experienced actor?

Raveena has been the most helpful person. I was very nervous naturally working with her, so she told me that whatever I do just react to it naturally. So slowly I became comfortable with her. Being opposite her has made me a better actor.

You have also struggled for over six years in the industry and at the same time you can see star kids like Sara or Jhanvi who have been given such a cosy entry. Do you feel it is unfair?

I have given many auditions till now. But frankly I don’t think anything like this is wrong or right. Tomorrow if I am a big shot director I would also want to launch my son, it is a natural instinct. So I don’t feel nepotism in the industry is wrong. It is wrong to assume that it happens only in the film industry, it happens in every field.

Did you try for TV serials as well or were you focused only on film?

Since the time I came to Mumbai, I did feel eventually that I would venture into TV, but I was able to manage with my livelihood with TV commercials, so I kept my focus on films only. I knew that it will not be easy, but I wanted to pursue it. Maybe after I get married I may have to eventually give in and do TV serials. I want a good director, good film and a good script. Don’t want to compromise on anything right now.

What are your expectations from the film?

I am just happy right now that I have got such a good film. People who have seen the film have appreciated my work. The story is about something almost everyone in the industry would have seen or experienced. This movie is a fact not a fiction. My expectations right now is that people like the film and hope that people like my work. I hope that this inspires other boys who are starting out, I if can do it, then even they can.