From a child actor in classics like Mr India and Shahenshah, the adorable boy next door in his debut as an adult in Mast (1999) and the charmingly ruthless killer in Kasoor (2001), Aftab Shivdasani has always surprised cine-goers with his choices. He then switched over to laugh riots like Hungama (2003) and the Masti series of films. In 2020 he was seen in a web series titled Poison 2 (on Zee5), and he is taking his OTT journey ahead with Special Ops 1.5.
The second season of Special Ops will be out soon, and Aftab has a pivotal role in the show. Opening up about it, Aftab shares, “It is a very new character that has been introduced in the second part. People have loved the first part, and this character is a surprise, so I cannot reveal much about it. But I can tell you that if you liked the first part, you will like this a lot more.”
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Aftab will sport a different look Special Ops 1.5, which will trace the back story of Himmat Singh (Kay Kay Menon). Aftab has shot many action sequences for the espionage thriller. What is a boy like Aftab doing in an action show like this? “The boy has grown up to be a man (laughs),” Aftab says.
This will be perhaps the first time audiences will get to see Aftab in an out and out action avatar. “Yes, the genre of the franchise is a spy thriller that needs a lot of action, and it is about RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) and combating terror, among other things, and that’s the best I can tell you. But then I have always wanted to do a show or a film that is patriotic, about the army and defence secrets. This is one such show which I got to do,” Aftab adds.
While A Wednesday fame Neeraj Pandey is the show’s Program Creator, its director Shivam Nair has previously directed spy film Naam Shabana and the 90s cult TV show Sea Hawks, among others. “Neeraj and Shivam are like chalk and cheese. They are amazing together. They are like two different tracks of the rail – but they know where they meet. They have very different ways of directing a shot, but they know what the end result is. It was great working with both of them, and their distinct styles and schools helped me understand how both of them interpreted the same shot – but then it was a huge learning for me. They had done all their homework before reaching the sets, and every other actor would share the same sentiment,” Aftab enthuses.
The producer of Special Ops 1.5, Shital Bhatia, is all praise for Aftab. “You have to see what Aftab has done in this series. He is an excellent actor and has done a great job. He will not just be seen doing action but a lot more. But I still cannot tell you what his role is in the series. If Special Ops Season 1 was from 2001 to 2019 – Special Ops 1.5 is from 2001 to 2005, and I am so happy that Aftab agreed to do our show,” shares Bhatia, who has also bankrolled films like Baby and Special 26.
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Aftab is also happy that he is getting to work with some of the best names in the film industry. He is elated to have worked with the inimitable Kay Kay. “He is an absolutely amazing actor. He is such a phenomenal talent, and it was a pleasure to work with someone like him,” says Aftab, who feels that cinema is changing.
“There has been a paradigm shift in the viewing and the making patterns of cinema in the past five years, and after Covid-19, it has changed further. The beauty of the OTTs is that it has given a chance not just to a lot of actors but technicians as well. It co-exists beautifully, and OTT gives you space and time. With OTT, you can stretch and elaborate on content that you cannot do with cinema. I would love to do a mix of both. I want to do a comedy on OTT and a spy thriller on the silver screen. They both feed off each other. I want a good mix and match,” says Aftab.
The cast and crew of Special Ops 1.5 shot all over the world, including India, Mauritius and Ukraine, because the show demanded it. Neeraj and Shivam ensured no stone was left unturned as they wanted to mount the series on a large scale. “RAW has a presence worldwide, and the makers did not want to compromise on the scale and shot it all in other countries apart from India. That is what you will see this time around. It is a very exciting show,” Aftab signs off. Special Ops 1.5 will begin streaming from November 12 on Disney+ Hotstar.
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