Calm and composed amidst a frenzy of fans during his appearance at Little World Mall, Sharman Joshi is far from the silly comic he comes across in most of his films. Sitting in an office filled with journalists, fans, managers and cameramen, he quietly eats his sandwich and observes the people around him. The star’s magnetic pull is enhanced by his down-to-earth nature. Here, he tells us more about 3 Idiots, himself and the Bollywood industry.
How do you feel about the success of 3 IDIOTS?
I am quite elated, heartened, humbled; all these emotions together. It is wonderful when you work so hard and that is appreciated and acknowledged by everyone.
Do you relate to your character of Raju Rastogi in the film?
Yes, certain parts of his character. I relate to Raju in the present. Raju in the present is more like me: I have always known what I wanted to do; I have always gone after it despite any sort of pressures, which I took with a pinch of salt. But, I don’t relate to Raju in his college years.
Have you ever been ‘ragged’ or ‘bullied’?
Fortunately not! I can imagine it being a very traumatic experience. The colleges I’ve studied at here, in Bombay, were day colleges, not hostels. Hostels are notorious for ragging. I was, fortunately, spared the treatment.
3 IDIOTS is now a scapegoat for student suicides and ragging. What do you think about that?
It is rather unfortunate. The film takes a stance against suicide and ragging, for that matter. I don’t know how this is being interpreted as inspiring people towards such traumatic acts.
Do you have the typical traits of a Taurean which you are?
I don’t know. I haven’t looked into it too much. But, largely and generally, I’ve heard that a Taurean is meant to be opinionated. I am opinionated, but I would like to believe that I am also flexible to other points of views. If I am convinced and if the other point of view is valid, I readily agree.
What’s your pet peeve?
I’m not sure. I find it really annoying when I am asked for anecdotes or stories of things that happened on the sets of a film. It is annoying because I can’t remember. I think I have memory issues: such anecdotes don’t instantly come to my mind. For example, many interesting and funny things happened on the sets of 3 Idiots, but I can’t remember them and tell you.
If you were sent to a deserted island and were told that you could only take one thing with you, what would that be?
I would take a cell phone. But, in case there is no network, I would take a chopper so that I could just fly back out of there.
Who is your idol and inspiration?
I don’t have any particular idol or inspiration and that’s a conscious decision. There’s a fine line between being inspired by someone and imitating them, and I don’t want to end up imitating or mimicking someone. Instead, I get inspired by every person from all possible walks of life. If someone performs a basic gesture that is kind, compassionate and warm, I get inspired. Like, a man opening the door for a woman, or a woman smiling. These things are inspiring and I take note.
Raju’s character was played by my instinct. I just imagined myself in his situation. In the suicide scene, I imagined how traumatic the situation would have been for him: the pressure of not doing well, not wanting to give his friend’s name and, on top of that, the pressure of his parents. If he’s rusticated, I thought of what his parents would feel. I relied on my instinct and approached the character in this simplistic manner.
There’s an increasing trend for Bollywood films and stars to become politicized. Film stars are becoming politicians; films are focused on contentious issues and are blamed for certain things. Do you think this trend should continue?
Films are a director’s or a writer’s medium. If a director is inspired and has a story to tell by a particular incident, be it political or anything else, I think it’s wonderful for him to express it. It’s a democracy we’re living in; every creative person should be given a free hand. If the maker has a story to tell, he should do so as long as there is no malice. The bottom line is that the film should be entertaining because we are, after all, in the business of entertainment.
Do you think chivalry is dead?
Not at all. Chivalry is not dead; it’s very much alive and kicking. I’m quite a romantic at heart and I like indulging my woman.