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Interview Hindi

People’s perception of me has changed after The Kashmir Files: Darshan Kumaar

Actor Darshan Kumaar, who is part of Ek Badnaam... Aashram 3, talks about the web-series and the stupendous success of The Kashmir Files.

Ankita Kanabar

Anyone who has seen Darshan Kumaar on screen in any of his projects will agree that he is quite convincing in every character he has played.

While the audience is still to get over his act as Krishna Pandit in The Kashmir Files (2022), the actor has resumed his character of sub-inspector Ujagar Singh in Ek Badnaam... Aashram 3 (2022), the third season of Prakash Jha's Aashram web-series which was released last week.

When he spoke to Cinestaan.com in a telephone conversation, Darshan Kumaar's voice was brimming with excitement, confidence and happiness. Excerpts from the chat:

How was it coming aboard this time round for the Aashram franchise? Is it easy to resume a character from where you left it?

When I read the script, I was so excited because this time Prakashji [director Jha] was excited while writing it. There is three times more drama and suspense. We always think it’s easy when you are playing the same character, but you have to really work hard and this is more challenging because you have already done two seasons and you have to re-live that journey. You have lost that character within you and have to work to get into its skin. I also had to put on eight or 10 kilos for Season 3 for a reason which is revealed in the show, so it was difficult.

You are coming from the success of The Kashmir Files (2022). Did you anticipate this sort of glorious feat by the film?

I’m on cloud nine because I did not believe The Kashmir Files would get such a response. People thought it’s their film, so they promoted and supported it in a big way. People come and hug me and touch my feet to thank me for the film. That’s not the kind of response we anticipated. It broke all records after Jai Santoshi Maa (1975). It was a small-budget film and yet it earned more than Rs200 crore. It has broken records on OTT also when it was released on Zee5 recently. So, I feel blessed as an actor.

But didn’t you have any apprehension doing it, because The Kashmir Files has also invited controversy and criticism from a section of society?

I remember my first meeting with Vivekji [director Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri] and Pallaviji [actress and producer Pallavi Joshi]. They showed me one hour of video clippings of the victims which they had found. They have almost 5,000 hours of video clippings with them and I saw just one hour out of it and was numb.

When I read the script, I found that each and every thing that I saw in the video clip was written in the script. I was shocked but decided that I have to take this film, because there are so many people fighting for justice and they have still not got it. I was more than happy to be their voice in some way.

I have done many films that way which could have been risky on paper. In Sarbjit (2016), I played a Pakistani character who risked his life for an Indian, Sarbjit. In Aashram also, they are making people aware of conmen who pose as godly figures. I am glad to be a part of subjects that make people in society aware of something.

The variety in your choices is also interesting. For instance, an NH10 (2015) after Mary Kom (2014), then Sarbjit, so on and so forth....

Right from my theatre days, I was careful about what I choose. I was a part of Naseeruddin Shah’s theatre group. That time also I was being offered some roles in films. But I never accepted those roles because I wanted to something different. I had the confidence that I will choose something different.

Then I made my debut with Mary Kom and got so much love for playing Onler Kom. Then I did NH10. People were hating me after watching NH10 and for Mary Kom they loved me. I remember Priyanka Chopra telling me that when she was shooting with Anushka Sharma for Dil Dhadakne Do (2015), the two of them were fighting. Because Anushka was like ‘he is such a brutal and bad guy’ because she felt I was that way in real life while playing the character in NH10, and Priyanka said, ‘He is the most humble guy.’ It was a big compliment for me when I heard that. So I’m happy that all my characters have been appreciated, so far.

Tell us about your upcoming projects.

I have done Dhokha with R Madhavan, Aparshakti Khurana and Khushali Kumar who is making her debut. It’s going to be released soon.

Earlier, I used to meet many directors who said they would love to cast me but cannot, because eventually the Friday, Saturday, Sunday numbers matter and only then you get work. Now, after The Kashmir Files, I’m getting offers. Because I’m a member of the big Rs300 crore club (laughs) and people have faith in me now, so, hopefully you will hear some announcements soon.

So that means The Kashmir Files has changed people’s perception of you?

Totally! It has changed people’s perception of me by 180° (laughs).