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Interview Hindi

This is my tribute to Alfred Hitchcock: Anshuman Jha on his directorial debut, Lord Curzon Ki Haveli

The actor was all set to begin shooting his debut feature when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, but his recently released web-series Mastram has got a lot of attention.

Sukhpreet Kahlon

Anshuman Jha has been on an exciting journey, straddling the world of theatre and cinema. He gave an impressive performance in Dibakar Banerjee’s hard-hitting film Love Sex Aur Dhoka (2010). He also played the lead in the musical show Jhumroo at the Kingdom of Dreams.

Jha was recently seen in Ashvin Kumar’s No Fathers In Kashmir (2019) and Hum Bhi Akele Tum Bhi Akele (2020), which has been featured at several film festivals and won the People’s Choice award at the South Asian International Film Festival in New York last year.

Jha's recently released web-series Mastram, on MX Player, has been creating some waves as it brings alive the India of the 1980s when a young writer takes to writing erotic novels and becomes immensely popular. Jha is also set to make his directorial debut with a film called Lord Curzon Ki Haveli, which features Tannishtha Chatterjee, Arjun Mathur and Rasika Dugal.

Speaking about his journey thus far, Jha said, “It has been very enriching. LSD was in 2010 and I made my stage debut in 2001 at Prithvi [in Mumbai], so for me the journey began the day I did the workshop with Sanjana Kapoor at Prithvi. I love acting, so it’s a blessing for me to have a script in my hand and perform. Every role I have played has given me satisfaction and made me richer.”

Few know that the passionate actor was all set to become a professional cricketer! Given his love for theatre as well as the sport, Jha reached a point where he had to make a choice between the two. “I used to play cricket professionally for Delhi before I stopped because I was [training] with Barry John and the theatre group was going to Kashmir for a play titled It’s All About Money, Honey, and the under-19 team was going to Gwalior for a tournament, and that’s where I decided," he said, recounting the moment.

"There are so many similarities between the two fields [cricket and cinema]," he continued. "The only difference is that in the film business, there is no fair playing ground because of the way the industry functions, which is perfectly all right. I am not complaining about it, but I am being honest.”

Though Jha has directed plays, the move towards directing a film happened quite organically. Describing the moment, he said, “Directing was never on the agenda. Bikas [Mishra] was supposed to write and direct [the film] and initially he was not agreeing with the things that I was saying about the draft. But then he would call me after a week and say that what I had said made sense. This happened several times till he said that because of my clarity about the script, I should direct it!

"So, originally, I was acting and Bikas was directing. Then the challenge was that if I am directing, who would act, because I would be cheating that craft if I were directing. Then I met Arjun Mathur and he understood the script just as I wanted him to.”

Jha said black comedy is his favourite genre, followed by thrillers. "[The late Hollywood legend] Alfred Hitchcock is my favourite filmmaker and this film is my tribute to him,” he said, without giving details of the plot.

With his commitment to the craft of acting, the actor also revealed what keeps him excited and steady in an industry where people see more than their fair share of ups and downs. “Be kind, be compassionate and have a voice," he said. "As an actor, I want to do thick roles because I want to invest time and energy. They may not necessarily be lead roles, but I will not do a peripheral part just for the sake of it because there is money, because it doesn’t excite me.”

The actor was all set to begin shooting Lord Curzon Ki Haveli in the United Kingdom when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, altering everyone's lives for the foreseeable future.

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