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'I don't see myself as a star kid'

By PRATEEK SUR
May 06, 2021 12:11 IST
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'My grandfather O P Ralhan passed away when I was very young.'
'When I told my dad that I wanted to study films, he told me he did not have any contacts in the film industry.'
'He told me to finish my business undergrad and then chase my dreams.'

Armaan Ralhan has been getting praise for the Majnu segment of the anthology Ajeeb Daastaans.

His co-star in Ajeeb Daastaans was the hugely talented Jaideep Ahlawat, but the young actor says he wasn't nervous at all.

"They had approached Jaideep, but he hadn't said yes yet. Paatal Lok hadn't come out by then, but I had seen Jaideep in many other projects and was hoping that he would say yes so that I could get to work with him," Armaan tells Rediff.com Contributor Prateek Sur.

Ajeeb Daastaans has been phenomenal for you. When you signed this project, did you imagine this response?

Not at all. It's been sort of overwhelming and humbling with the sort of things happening around the world right now, especially in India.

It's a bitter-sweet moment.

On a humanity level, I want things to settle down.

As an artiste, it's quite cool to be able to reach out to people when they are stuck at home and hopefully entertain them, and give them that little bit of distraction.

Talking of the response, I didn't foresee it at all.

I believed in the film and myself and was mighty happy to be working with (Director) Shashank Khaitan and Dharma (Productions) and the ensemble cast.

I was hopeful that it would lead to good things for me.

You had to stand tall opposite Jaideep Ahlawat in the story Majnu in Ajeeb Dastaans. Were you nervous?

Fatima (Sana Sheikh) was on for the film first and then I had my audition.

Jaideep had not yet said yes to the film.

They had approached Jaideep, but he hadn't said yes yet.

Paatal Lok hadn't come out by then, but I had seen Jaideep in many other projects and was hoping that he would say yes so that I could get to work with him.

Honestly, there was no nervousness working with him, as I believe the better the actors you have with you, the easier your job becomes.

You have been a Bombay boy and the character you are playing is from a different part of the country. What was the process behind getting the dialect right?

I was really lucky as Shashank writes his own screenplay and dialogues.

He was working on a film in Barabanki a few years ago, and had been there.

He had an ear for the language and dialect from there.

I had never been to Barabanki, so we did readings and worked at that together.

I was lucky that I didn't have to get a dialect coach and Shashank gave me time to work with me on the dialect.

We came down to a point where it didn't look like we were overdoing it and we're not doing it just for the sake of showing that the character is from there.

It was finding that right balance.

Ajeeb Daastaans was specifically made for OTT. As an actor, is there more freedom while working on OTT, as there's barely any censorship?

It doesn't make too much of a difference.

Even during the making, Shashank maintained that we are not making a short film.

You have to be honest to your character and then it's up to the editor and the director as to how they want to put it together.

As an actor, there hasn't been any difference as to where the movie would be releasing.

Your grandfather was the film-maker O P Ralhan (external link). Do you think it's justified when people call you a star kid?

I never saw myself as a star kid as my grandfather passed away when I was very young.

He wasn't even making movies then.

When I finished boarding school and told my dad that I wanted to study films, he told me that he did not have any contacts in the film industry. He told me to finish my business undergrad and then chase my dreams.

This decision, in retrospect, I do understand.

So I don't see myself as a star kid, but I do consider myself privileged.

I am a boy from Bombay, I have a roof over my head, food and the basic necessities of life.

Eventually, my work will have to speak for itself.

 

You started your career with Yash Raj's Befikre and then worked with Dharma. How similar are Bollywood's biggest production houses in terms of movie-making?

In their work ethic, these production houses are such good professionals that there are no differences.

Of course, the first film I did was this huge big-budgeted film, shot in Paris and with a big star in it, and this was a short film and part of an anthology and therefore shot in a slightly different manner and scale.

So yes, in terms of the scale and the story, there was a difference, but in terms of professionalism and work ethics, there's not much difference.

What are you working on?

I have shot for something that I am not allowed to speak about right now. It comes out next year, I think.

Due to the COVID situation, we can't really talk about any timelines as to when they will be shot, but at the same time, I have been reading a lot of scripts.

I am not sure what I am doing next, but I hope there will be a lot of work.

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