The ‘Mast’ actor who swooned his way into the audience’s hearts right from his first breakthrough debut soon was at the receiving end of all criticisms, courtesy some poor film choices and even poorer performances. The sparkle that was once visible in the gleam of little Aftab Shivdasani’s eyes way back during the Mr. India days seem to have fizzled out with time.
After a planned sabbatical and a lot of self redemption, the man finally returns to the silver screen with an iconic sequel which is tentatively called a ‘pseudo-sequel’ to the successful 1920 horror franchise. While his film is about to release in a week, Aftab shares his thoughts on his career, his films and his private life, et al!
Doing 1920: Evil Returns must have been exciting for you. How did the film happen?
Well, Vikram (Bhatt) approached me with the script. It is a film from the same franchise as 1920 and it’s a past film. Although it is not a sequel to the previous film, he approached me for the role and I loved the role. Plus of course, it is always lovely to work with him again and again. Everything worked out well between all of us and I must admit that the story and the script is phenomenal.
You play the role of a lifetime and this being your first horror film, how challenging was it for you to fit into the role of the protagonist in a horror flick?
Besides being a horror flick, it is an intense love story. To me the thing which fascinated me more was the part of the love story. 1920 – Evil Returns is basically a love story themed in the backdrop of horror. I was given such a character where the whole atmosphere was very intense. It required us to really perform at an alarmingly intense level as actors and that’s what gives the necessary intensity to the film too. My character is of a poet who has loved and lost in the past and has been disillusioned all his life. Then he comes across this girl, rescues her and brings her home. Then he falls in love only to find out that his lady love is possessed. My character is of someone who is very withdrawn, someone who has lots of regrets in life. It is his journey of rescuing his beloved that takes the story forward.
For the past two years, you were quite low key about both your personal as well as professional life. You did not do many films and weren’t being on screen. What made you take that break from the tinsel town?
It was not at all a deliberate effort from my end to take a break from films. I was not kind of happy with the offers that I was getting at that point of time. So I decided to go off the radar for sometime and wait for the right kind of a role. Instead, I also got the opportunity to come, work on myself. Then finally after a long tenure of two years, I got 1920’s offer and I loved it. In fact I am very excited about the film. Then of course there was Grand Masti, the film that I am shooting at the moment.
As you just now mentioned, you play the role of a disillusioned poet in this otherwise love story fit into the shoes of a thrilling horror flick. Did you look up to any previous performances for any references or to imbibe any characteristic quality to portray in your role?
No, not exactly! The only thing I took as a reference point was to look up the first part, which is 1920. I loved that film. From the direction to the story to the music and to the way the film was sequenced, I loved a lot about it. I just wish this film also does as well as the film that started this franchise. That is all! Then I also watched Haunted and I liked that too. I had seen Vikram’s Raaz but that is all I know. I am not really much of a horror loving person so I didn’t watch most of Vikram’s other films.
1920: Evil Returns and Grand Masti, both your upcoming films are kind of sequels to some original films. So has it been a conscious decision on your part to sign up sequels like most other actors are doing today?
All of it happens to be just a coincidence. It is not that I have planned. All of them have been films that have been exceptional at the box office and people have liked them. So this coincidence seems to have been good for me, I guess!
Recently ‘Raaz 3’ broke all records set by other horror flicks in the past. Has there been a constant pressure to match up to ‘Raaz 3’ since both the films belong to the same genre?
I don’t feel the pressure because I don’t feel I know the box office thing rightly. Plus I am yet to watch that film. So it’s not right for me to comment on that and I would like to maintain that.
Personally, what are you expecting out of 1920: Evil Returns as an actor?
Well I just hope the film does well, it works well and clicks nicely with the audience. It should because it is extremely scary in parts. Of course I want the audience to like it and enjoy the entire experience. For me, it has been a beautiful film to be made, with a beautiful story, great performances and it also has got some amazing music. So this film has all the ingredients to do well.
Besides 1920, what’s keeping you busy?
Well, honestly I am shooting only ‘Grand Masti’ at the moment. I am really looking forward to that film because Inder Kumar garnered all the confidence and me and I don’t want to let him down! Then there are scripts. So I am trying to keep myself busier after a long time (Smiles).
There also have been talks about you getting married soon next year, and you also admitted to being in a serious relationship. So is marriage on the cards soon now?
At some point of time, I would like to get married. I have not decided when. But when I do I will definitely let all of you know.
You have had a string of relationships and some major heart breaks in the past. Do you regret anything from the past? Have you changed anything in yourself to fit in well for this relation?
No, I don’t regret anything at all because I believe whatever has happened in the past has always taught me well. They have certainly made me the person that I am today. In fact all those people who had been in my life in the past, I am still in touch with most of them. I am always thankful to them for being in my life and teaching me a lesson, whether good or bad! And coming to having anything new, I don’t look at it that way. I have just grown and evolved. It’s just that the mistakes I made yesterday, I won’t be making the same ones tomorrow. It’s only when you start learning from your mistakes that you get to rediscover your true self. That’s all! (He signs off)