'Two years have passed since the film released, but everything is still Sairat, Sairat...'
Akash Thosar tells Ronjita Kulkarni/Rediff.com he is looking forward to Dhadak.
Dhadak's Zingaat is glossier than the hugely popular song in Nagraj Manjule's original Marathi film, Sairat.
Bollywood star kids Ishaan Khatter and Janhvi Kapoor look well-groomed and gorgeous in it, and the song has been choreographed by one of the best in the industry, Farah Khan.
It has been filmed on a much larger scale than the original film, but Sairat's Akash Thosar doesn't mind not being a part of it.
"Sairat mein mera pet bhar gaya (I have had my fill with Sairat),"; he says, over the phone from Pune. "Two years have passed since the film released in 2016, but everything is still Sairat, Sairat..."
Of course, that does not mean he is not indebted to the film.
He is looking forward to watching Dhadak when it releases on July 20.
"I saw the Dhadak trailer and loved it. Janhvi and Ishaan are looking very good," he says in Hindi, adding that he is not playing a cameo in the film.
Akash looks back at the way Zingaat was filmed in Sairat. It was not professionally choreographed, and everyone in the song did their own dance.
"They just told us, Ganpati dance karna hai," Akash recalls. "I love dancing so I enjoyed it. Anna (Nagraj Manjule) just gave me the situation -- I had to keep looking up, and call Archi (Rinku Rajguru) with my hands."
The song was shot over three nights, and when it released, it immediately became an anthem of sorts.
Dhadak's Zingaat looks good, but the film will have a tough job staying free of comparisons with the original.
After all, will Ishaan and Janhvi enjoy the same overnight stardom that Akash and Rinku saw when Sairat released?
"My life has changed completely," Akash says. "It is nothing like what it was before. I have no personal life now."
He cannot eat a roadside pani puri without gathering a crowd.
"I enjoy it when people come up to me," he says. "But sometimes, it does get to me because some of them don't listen. No one is satisfied with just one picture. Everyone wants at least four-five pictures."
Akash says he has changed as a person as well.
"I can speak to people now. Earlier, I was very shy. Now, my confidence has gone up," he says. "I'd never gone on stage. Thanks to Sairat, I have even performed on stage. I'm not scared now."
Akash isn't on a script-signing spree.
"I am getting a lot of a scripts but none of them are good," he says, adding that most of the scripts are from Marathi cinema.
In the last two years, he has only done a Marathi film, Friendship Unlimited, and a segment in Netflix's Lust Stories.
Ask him about Lust Stories, and Akash doesn't hold back.
In the film, he plays a student who gets into a physical relationship with his married teacher, played by Radhika Apte. The segment has been directed by Anurag Kashyap.
"Since this was my first Hindi film, I had this fear about what it would be like. But when I went on the sets, the fear went away on the first day itself. Anurag is very friendly. He doesn't scold you; he makes you understand."
"Woh chod deta hai sets par (he lets you be on the sets). He says, don't act, just pretend it is really you (in that situation) and talk like you normally would. That made it simple."
Was it too bold for him?
"There was a scene, which had a little..." Akash trails off. "I was very conscious about that scene, but he would tell me, tension mat le (don't get tense). People would tease me on the sets about how I would do it, but finally, it was edited out. I was glad it didn't make it to the film!"
One of the people he met at the film's success party was Karan Johar who had directed another segment in Lust Stories. Karan is also the producer of Dhadak.
"He said he liked my work," the 24-year-old actor says happily.
Akash never thought he would be an actor.
His dream, in fact, was to join the police force. In order to achieve that, he became a wrestler to build his physique.
He trained for five years, and gave the requisite exams twice. But he could not get in.
During his wrestling training in a village called Jeur, near Solapur, Akash had a chance meeting with Nagraj Manjule's brother Bharat at a railway station.
They spoke, and Akash gave him some of his pictures.
"I knew Nagraj Manjule. I had watched and loved (his earlier film) Fandry," Akash recounts. "He asked me to meet him, and I thought I would get a small role. Just meeting him was a big deal for me. Then, he told me about the film!"
"Those days, I did not know acting at all. I was very shy. I didn't know how to say a dialogue."
Akash and the Sairat team stayed at Manjule's house for a month-and-a-half to rehearse before the shooting started.
"None of us were actors; I didn't even know what a camera looked like. I saw it when I went on the sets. The environment on the sets was very good. We would have a lot of fun, do masti. We didn't have a care. But I will not be like that anymore. Now, I do care about what I am doing," he says.
Acting may have been fun, but not all of it was easy.
"Crying was very tough!" he exclaims. "In the entire six months that we shot Sairat, I was tense only about one scene. When Archi leaves me, and I am trying to kill myself. I just can't cry (on camera)."
He spent over two hours during the audition, trying to cry.
"They wanted to see how I look when I cry. But I just could not, so they made me sit for two-three hours," he says, looking back.
"I used to practise crying everyday. The day I had to shoot the scene, I would go to Anna and tell him that I was very tense. But he would say, 'Don't be, just do it the way you want to.' So I would go and sit somewhere for five minutes, and then go back to him and say that I can't understand what to do. I went to him at least five six times that day."
He shot the scene in that tense state of mind, and the shot was approved in the very first take.
One of Akash's favourite scenes is when he jumps into the well, in the Yed Lagla song.
"I love swimming. So when I was told about that scene, I was quite happy. When I reached the location, they showed me the point from where I had to jump. That was okay for me, meine bahut chalang lagaye hai (I have jumped many times)."
"Later, I was told that Archi would be standing inside, and three-four girls in the well. I was tense about that because I had to come running and jump directly. I could not see the girls, so I was worried about hurting them by mistake," he says.
"Also, while jumping, I had to smile. But who smiles when they jump from such a height?" he asks.
The film's climax was close to his heart too.
"I had shot it, so I knew what would happen. But even then, it came as a shock when I saw it on screen. I cried while watching it," he says.
"The way I felt when I first saw myself on the big screen for the first time cannot be expressed in words," he adds.
"From my childhood, my father would look at reality shows, and say, see what other kids are doing, and see what you are doing. I felt nice that he got to see me like this."