Dhadak is a new film for even those who have watched Sairat; idea was never to mimic: Ishaan Khatter
It's important to remember Dhadak is an adaptation, not a remake of Sairat, says Ishaan Khatter in an interview to Firstpost.
Ishaan Khatter is one of those rare Bollywood newbies whose career began with two vastly different films.
Few months back, he debuted with ace filmmaker Majid Majidi’s Beyond The Clouds, and now his upcoming film Dhadak (releasing on 20 July), opposite Sridevi and Boney Kapoor’s daughter Janhvi, is from Karan Johars’ Dharma Productions, a banner that is as good as it gets for a mainstream Hindi film hero. Ishaan's character in Beyond the Clouds was a street hustler and drug dealer while in Shashank Khaitan's Dhadak, which is an official adaptation of Marathi blockbuster Sairat, he plays an innocent guy madly in love with Parthvi (Jahnvi).
Ishaan has an interesting story to tell about working in Dhadak. “Shashank came from a different kind of cinema and there were moments when I would be very subdued and perform in a very subtle manner. At times Shashank would feel that I was not delivering what he needed and he would scream — ‘Ham’," he says, laughing out loud. He further says, “Every situation needs to be seen in context. A boy who is born and raised in Udaipur — someone who is grown on '90s Hindi films, watching Amit ji, Sallu bhai — will have a certain flamboyant way about himself when he is trying to be cool. It’s very different from a boy who is born and raised in the slums in Mumbai (his character in Beyond The Clouds) where he had to fend for himself.”
It was somewhere in early 2017 that Ishaan was locked for the role in Dhadak, and it was a bit later that he received a call from casting director Honey Trehan for Majidi's Indian project, and Ishaan managed to bag both the roles. “Shashank knew me before I started shooting Beyond The Clouds, but he hadn’t seen my work. In fact, till the time we finished Dhadak, he had not seen Beyond The Clouds and I found that [to be] a good decision. He got to know me earlier and he got to know me the best during the preparation for this film. He knew what I was capable of,” says Ishaan.
“It was a very liberal and normal environment on sets, nothing different just because I had done Majidi sir’s film before. Shashank is a very self-assured man. I worked on Dhadak as if it was my first film. It was also much more premeditated. But what I learnt on Beyond the Cloud set is going to be a life long learning for me. It literally sets the tone for one’s craft. That experience will stay forever,” he adds.
With Sairat being a huge hit, the comparisons can be taxing. “The first thing we told ourselves that this is an adaptation and not a remake. The two youths from Karmala taluka in Maharashtra and two youngsters born and raised in Udaipur (Rajasthan) are very different from each other, their ideas and idiosyncrasies are different. Dhadak is a new film even for those who have watched Sairat. The idea was never to mimic or to ape the performances. It was to make an honest film of our own and be true to the characters that we are representing. I don’t think it was ever made to take advantage of the commercial viability and I never felt intimidated or dwarfed by Sairat,” says Ishaan.
“In our film, the identity of our characters is invested in the fact that they are from Udaipur. If you go to Udaipur, you will see the locals have a certain air, a certain royalty about them. They are very proud of their heritage, their history,” says Ishaan. While Sairat explores the nuances of caste and class conflict, Ishaan says that in Dhadak there is more stress on classism. “But the underlining theme is about love over hate because ultimately discrimination on the basis of class, race, caste is all a form of hate,” says Ishaan.
Was there an early inclination towards acting? “As a performer I was always passionate about acting. Watching films has been my university. I didn’t want to formally train as an actor but I trained as a dancer, did a theatre course and assisted on two films. I explored every opportunity, so slowly and steadily I overcame lot of inhibitions. I don’t feel scared or nervous before going on set. I feel excited. By nature I am an explorer,” he says.
“Both my parents (Neelima Azim and Rajesh Khatter) are actors. My mom has been a strong influence. She never consciously pushed me in that direction. Only when she realised that I was serious about acting that she started encouraging me,” he adds.
One cannot resist talking about his brother Shahid Kapoor, who Ishaan fondly addresses as Sasha bhai. “He chooses to stay out of my work. He hasn’t given any serious advice so far. But he was a bit nervous when he went to watch my first film. He told someone that, ‘If Ishaan is really good then I will get emotional and if he was bad then I will get depressed’. He looked so happy and said many kind words when he went home after watching the film. With regard to Dhadak, he just told me to get good with the language and be well prepared. Now I am waiting for him to see the film,” says Ishaan.
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“Whatever we’ve read in our childhood, our books – storybooks, even our textbooks, literature in Hindi and English in school… it’s all about how much interest you have in studying, and those things registering themselves in your mind. All of that reflects in our art," says Encore, one half of Seedhe Maut.