'There is more in me as an actor than what you have seen on television so far,' says Aamir Ali

Aamir Ali entered the world of glitz and glam through commercials. While he had aspirations of making it to Bollywood, Aamir had to take a detour with television shows, and it was a while before he started enjoying working on the small screen. Also, not many know that his first film failed to take off. But, that didn’t deter him, and his passion for films kept him going. And, today, the actor is all set to foray into the digital world with the Zee5 web series, Naxalbari. Excerpts from the interview:

How do you see the boom of web series in India?

India has such a huge population that anything becomes a rage quite easily! Just as TikTok and Instagram made a splash and became so huge in such little time, now it is the same with the OTT platforms.

What prompted you to take up Naxalbari?

I did not want to go back to the TV shows I was being offered and wanted to try something different. Also, I didn’t want to be a part of a regular digital show, which looks like another TV serial… same old stuff in new package. I have done enough of romantic and funny roles, but for my first digital show I wanted it to be different. When I was offered Naxalbari, I instantly said yes. It was a kind of role I was waiting for. It is intense, dramatic, and the kind you have not seen me essay before. In fact, I was doing another project, which had a similar premise but got shelved due to the pandemic.

So, what’s next?

My next show is Black Widow, which will see me in an entirely different avatar again! It is a complete opposite to my role in Naxalbari. In Black Widow, I play this naïve character. It might look simple on paper but I had to literally shake up the actor in me to play the character. It was a lot of hard work but I could explore a very different side of me.

Do you think the OTT platforms are helping television stars venture beyond their comfort zones?

I think so. What I have done here, I might not have done it on TV. On TV, you have to play the protagonist to be noticed. In 14-15 years of my TV career, I have mostly played lead roles. But on OTT everyone is a primary character and you don’t know which one will excel. In television, the meatiest part is reserved for the lead pair, so you want to play the protagonist, but on OTT it is the characters and even often bit roles that eventually hog the limelight. So, you need to pick wisely!

Why don’t we see more television actors moving to OTT?

I am sure they want move to OTT. Maybe they aren’t getting the roles they want. When I started meeting people, I purposely had kept a beard. No one could recognise me. I met a very senior guy who gave me a look as if he did not recognise me. I wanted that. It depends on a good maker to see something nice and different in you and consider you fit for role which might be a complete contrast of what our image has been over the years on television. It took me time to convince people that I can do this that there is more in me as an actor than what you have seen on television so far.

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