Utkarsh Sharma talks about his debut film Genius, nepotism and working with Nawazuddin Siddiqui
The nepotism debate has just received a shot in the arm. Utkarsh Sharma, son of director Anil Sharma, has dipped into the Bollywood pool this Friday, with his father's film Genius.
When I meet the debutant at his father’s flat, the house is in the grip of chaos in a run up to the release and the only place that offers some sanity is his bedroom. For someone who was raised amid '90s pop culture, I can't help but ask him: does Utkash have memories shooting for Gadar? “I was not too fond of it and I don’t remember my parents asking me for my permission. The next thing I know is that I am on a flight to Lucknow. When I reached the sets, I felt overwhelmed and scary at the same time,” Utkarsh recalls Gadar as a taxing film even as a kid. He adds, “I had to do a lot of stunts as a kid and that was not a pleasant experience.”
Later, Utkarsh assisted his father in the making of the Salman Khan starrer Veer and after he was bitten by the film bug, he thought it best to hone his skills further. The four-year stint in the US saw him studying direction at Chapman University and acting at Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. “My short film was selected at many festivals and my college actually pushed it out for participation at the student Oscar. Though I did not make the cut, I was extremely happy that at least the school liked it. I love the craft and its now become a passion,” says Utkarsh.
When asked if he considers Genius as an idle debut platform, the actor remarks that it surely is a good opportunity to showcase his ability as an actor as the film allows him to play a character with a different background to his. About his character, he mentions that he has a gift of photogenic memory and is extremely intelligent. “His mind works too fast but on the surface he is a very simple looking guy. He joins RAW as he is a prodigy and knows his thing around computers. I spent some time with RAW officers just to try understand their world. I have tried to do things realistically," he says.
In Genius, Utkarsh is pitted opposite Nawazuddin Siddiqui, a bundle of talent in his own manner and also someone who possesses an uncanny ability to steal the limelight. Was it daunting to act opposite Nawaz in his debut film? “Yes, it was a little daunting; he is a legend. Before agreeing to do the film, he decided to see some scenes I had shot earlier and after he saw them he said I am very natural. That comment is almost like a certificate and even if he would have said just an okay, it would have been like a certificate to me.”
Despite the filmy family background, Utkarsh is aware of the challenges that lie ahead and that Bollywood could also a brutal place. So how tough is it for a newcomer to carve out his own place in Bollywood where there is competition all around? “I think it has always been hard in this industry. With digital now there are more opportunities for people to showcase their talent but if I were to ask you to name 100 actors from the industry, it would be difficult for you to name all and so it is the most competitive, most desirable and the most cut throat industry there is because it does not matter how you got the opportunity. Ultimately it’s your talent that counts and you have to perform with every movie. Despite the competition and pressure, this is my passion so I have no choice.”
Finally, there is no escaping the nepotism question for Utkarsh. The actor is honest enough to admit that it’s a fact. “I can’t do anything about it and that’s my reality. I come from a filmy family and I always knew that these questions would be thrown at me. Whatever I lack in experience, I have tried to make it up with my preparation and education and I only hope it works out. It’s my dream and passion, so I am not going to stop irrespective,” says Utkarsh.
Updated Date: Aug 25, 2018 09:01 AM