Sharad Kelkar, the ex-Grasim Mr India finalist and fitness trainer-turned-actor, has spent more than 15 years in the industry. A popular name in Hindi television, he made a splash is Bollywood with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s 2013 epic Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela. Last year he also made his digital debut with The Family Man. And 2020 he has had 6 releases! He kickstarted the year with his impressive performance as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the Ajay Devgn’s Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior. The film showcased his acting prowess yet again.
He then took everyone by surprise when he played a transgender in Akshay Kumar-starrer Laxmii. His December release Darbaan saw him play Anukul in Bipin Nadkarni Bollywood debut. The film is a movie adaptation of Rabindra Nath Tagore’s short story Khokababur Pratyabartan. Apart from these, he made his presence felt in the world of web series as well. After his crisp turns in Special Ops and The Family Man 2, his recent release, Black Widows sees him as the dark and deceptive Jatin Malhotra.
How was it playing Jatin Malhotra?
Black Widows is Hindi-language Indian adaptation of a Finnish series of the same name. It is a fantastic dark comedy and shows the quirky side of women. These three women who are fed up with their husbands try to kill them. But one of them survives which is Jatin Malhotra, who is me. The character has a lot of shades. Mona and I have been friends for a long time but this is the first time we are working together as a couple.
From Shivaji in Tanhaji, Anukul in Darbaan to Laxmii and now Jatin, all are so different from one another. How do you choose your roles?
In fact, variety is the keyword, I would say, both for me and the audience. And that is the first thing I notice when choosing a character.
You played a transgender in Laxmii. Such roles tend to easily become caricatures. How challenging was that part?
I had seen the original film Kanchana when they offered me the film. So, I had an idea about the character. I kept it much simpler and my performance under control. I subconsciously knew that I had to play this role subtly. The getup was also very normal and not gaudy and that is why it looked so real. But it is difficult to do all that in a sari and a wig. The main challenge was to convince myself of the act before looking at convincing the audience. Once I got used to the reflection in the mirror, things became much easier. Plus, Akshay Sir and Raghava Lawrence (director) kept on guiding me. It was a team effort I would say.
What made you take up Darbaan and do you think its web release got it more audience?
The web release certainly got more audience and the audience too got to see a beautiful film. Maybe in the commercial world, people might not have opted for a small, sweet film. But the OTT release got a wider audience and they all loved and appreciated the film. Although my role was small, there is a depth in the character and the gravitas in it was the reason to choose it.
Do you think the closing of theatres and the OTT boom has worked as a boon for smaller indie films?
100 per cent! I think everybody is getting a chance to showcase their talents, be it writer, director or the actor. But ultimately what I believe is that film watching has to be in theatres. They are made for films. The ambience, sound system and the projection, it enhances the film viewing experience. I hope that this pandemic is over soon and people are able to go to theatres to watch films. Yes, with OTT, you do not have to spend a lot of money and for makers it is a great move and a blessing in these times. OTT saved all of us and I believe film (theatres) and OTT (platforms) can and will certainly cohabit in the post-pandemic world.