Tahir Raj Bhasin has had a fruitful lockdown. Not only has he tried (and burnt) his hands at a new skill, like cooking and binging on a heavy dose of Netflix, he has also mastered the art of WFM. He has been doing script-readings, rehearsing over video calls, prepping for his character for his next film, the Tapsee Pannu-starrer Looop Lapeta. But now the Mardaani actor is back at the sets although the details are under wraps. Earlier, the actor was also spotted in Delhi where he had travelled for a shoot of a commercial. His upcoming film 83, where he essays the role of cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar, is looking at a 2021 release. Post Manto, where he played the very dashing actor of the ’40s, Shyam, to perfection, this is his second turn playing a real-life character.
Before the actor gets swamped with work, we sat him down for a quick, fun tete-a-tete. Excerpts:
1. Favourite moment in your last movie. Why?
My favourite moment in a recent film is from Chhichhore when Derek runs the final race. The scene shows the audience that you need to win inside your mind before you win outside.
2. Last movie/series you have shot:
A yet untitled super exciting show for Jio. Luckily, we finished shooting for that a day before the lockdown was enforced in March. The show is directed by Pushpdeep Bhardwaj, a new talented director, who had a unique vision and texture for the show. It is a retro series about an aspiring filmmaker caught in the ‘behind the scenes’ world of 70s Bollywood. I am looking forward to its release.
3. Most number of retakes for a movie:
The chase scene shot on the rooftops of Budapest with John Abraham for the Force 2. Holding on to a character, with camera drones hovering around and being chased by John made it incredibly challenging.
4. Funniest memory from a movie set:
The scene with Nawazuddin Siddiqui for Nandita Das’s Manto where I had to bid farewell to Manto, while we were on a ship. The truth is, we shot the scene standing on top of cargo containers and the ship was created in visual effects. It’s an incredibly moving scene that had a funny setting. The ultimate result is the best of technology and cinema coming together.
5. Your first memory of facing the camera:
It if from Mardaani — the interval scene when Walt calls Shivani Shivaji Roy (played by Rani Mukerji). Pradeep Sarkar was the director and we shot the scene in Canaught Place, Delhi. It was a 6 am call time and I hadn’t slept much the previous night due excitement. The city and the place had special resonance, because it is where I spent all my time when I was in college and was a part of theatre groups at Delhi University.
6. Your most challenging scene so far:
Shooting the phone calls that Walt in Mardaani made to Shivani Shivaji Roy. The tone and pitch of those calls set the style of the character. It was also my first lead part and balancing an antagonist’s part with the style the makers wanted was a great challenge.
7. If you could swap your gender, one role you would have loved to do:
That’s a great and unusual question. In the hypothetical reality, it be two roles I can think of: Alia Bhatt in Udta Punjab and Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine.
10. Your most star-struck moment till date:
Meeting Shah Rukh Khan at a preview screening at YRF. I couldn’t speak for 30 mins.
11. The most filmy thing you have done in real life:
(laughs) I had a chain that said ‘Cool’ just like Shah Rukh Khan’s character Rahul from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. I also visited Nahargarh Fort in Jaipur just to hang out where friends from in Rang De Basanti did.
12. One secret talent you have (not related to acting):
I dodge interview questions with a sense of humour.
13. If you were a ’90s Bollywood movie, what would be your title?