'We were not trying to outshine each other, we were just trying to be sincere and honest to what was given.'
'We spent quality time with each other, so there was no room for any negativity or insecurity.'
ALERT! SPOILERS AHEAD.
Aftab Shivdasani has been getting a lot of attention because of his work in Neeraj Pandey's thriller Web series Special Ops 1.5: The Himmat Story.
It's praise well-earned, as he stood his own against talents Kay Kay Menon and Vinay Pathak.
But the role is short-lived, and ends before the season ends. Does he feel bad?
He tells Patcy N/Rediff.com stoically, "I was given a part and I have done it. We have accomplished what we wanted. God is kind that people have liked it."
Did you watch the first season before the role was offered to you? What did you think about it?
Yes, I saw it and was completely blown away.
I saw it during the lockdown, just like everybody else, and was just as amazed.
I had messaged Neeraj sir and congratulated him, saying 'What a fabulous, fabulous show it was.'
Of course, I put it out there that I would love to work with him in any capacity in future.
Then six months later, I got a call from his casting director.
Obviously, I did not imagine that it was for 1.5 at that time.
What was your first reaction when you heard about your character in Special Ops 1.5: The Himmat Story?
I was blown!
A lot of people go wrong in season two because when a show gets successful, people get carried away and don't stick to their narrative.
Then, it becomes all about commercialisation and trying to create something exciting, which is not organic.
I remember reading the script, and saying 'Sir, I think you have stayed true to the show and to the plot.'
Of course, he knows better than anybody else.
He is very level-headed; he doesn't get carried away.
Were you sceptical that you may not stand out in such a talented ensemble cast?
As an actor, I am very secure.
If I decide to do something, I don't do things out of insecurity.
I do it with self-belief.
I knew what I was getting into.
I knew that I had to play it with sincerity and honesty.
The writing was good.
I was working with actors of calibre like Kay Kay sir. He's probably the best we have around.
I thought if we were true to what was given to us, then everybody would stand out. And that's what happened.
Everybody performed so well.
We were not trying to outshine each other, we were just trying to be sincere and honest to what was given.
We bonded like a family because we spend a lot of time in quarantine together.
We spent quality time with each other, so there was no room for any negativity or insecurity.
Looking at your Instagram posts, it looks like you made a lot of friends on the show.
Yes. When I was giving an interview with Kay Kay sir, I learned a lot.
He says, 'As an actor, you can only be involved with the process, not with the outcome.'
That's so true!
The only thing we can do is to enjoy the process, and that's what we did.
We spent so much of quality time together that the equations are set for life.
We may not meet every day now, we may not talk every day, but the equation is set.
Tell us about the car action scene.
We shot it in Ukraine. A local Ukrainian stunt coordinator helped us, he was fabulous!
He shot the car stunt with his crew, edited it and showed it to us.
So we knew exactly what we were getting into -- every single cut, every single move, every single second was accounted for.
When you work with such precision and clarity, you see the outcome, and there is no room for doubt or confusion.
Just when we started liking the camaraderie between Kay Kay Menon and you, your character dies. Do you wish you could have been there longer?
That's the kind of feedback we are getting
But I was given a part and I have done it.
We have accomplished what we wanted.
God is kind that people have liked it.
How was it working with Neeraj Panday?
It was absolutely amazing working with him; he is so clear about what he wants.
He writes so beautifully that he makes life easy for the actors.
He leaves very little room for doubt.
He is so articulate that he explains things clearly to the actor.
You shot the show during the pandemic, How difficult was the shoot?
Full marks to the production, Friday Filmworks and Shital sir (Bhatia, Producer).
There is always the underlying threat that if somebody falls sick, there was a chance that the entire crew would fall sick.
So the test, the quarantine, the sanitisation, all of that was in place and one had to go with it because this is the new normal.
We can't work against it.
We have to be flexible because our job is not work from home. Our job is on the set, and comes with a set of challenges.
We were very careful about what we did.
There's so much money involved.
There's traveling, boarding, lodging...
But by the grace of God, we managed.
Do you think the OTT is a boon for actors? This is your second show on OTT after Poison 2. Do you think you will get your chance to showcase your talent now?
I think OTT is a fabulous medium because it gives you the opportunity to express.
As an actor or technician, it's a great time to express yourself.
It is a level playing field, there is no stardom here.
It's all about content, so it's fair to everybody.
Content is the real hero.
I think it can co-exist with cinema in the future, both of them will run parallel.
You have ventured in south films too. You starred in the Tamil film Bhaskar Oru Rascal with Arvind Swamy and the Kannada film Kotigobba 3 with Sudeep. What made you foray into regional cinema?
It happened by chance. The Tamil film happened when I got an offer from the producer.
I knew Arvind from the past, he is a friend. He said, it would be great for us to do something together. That's how effortlessly it happened.
Even Kotigobba 3happened like that.
Sudeep is a very dear friend. When this film was offered to me, I consulted with him.
He was only too happy that we would get a chance to work together in his film.
Kotigobba 3 has become a blockbuster.
You tested positive for COVID in September. How did you battle the virus?
I was lucky to have it in Mumbai.
I had fever for four or five days, I took medicine and was home quarantined.
Luckily, the damage to the lungs was not that severe.
You got married in 2014 and had your first child, your daughter Nevaeh, this year. How has fatherhood changed you?
It has changed me completely.
If you are a parent, you would know that it changes the dynamic of your life.
Everything revolves around your child and I couldn't be happier.
Nin and I have embraced this phase.
She is our bundle of joy, our life.
The only thing is that as a father, you have to balance your time between work and family and that is a continuous process. I am trying to do that.
Full marks to Nin for holding the fort so amazingly and being the best mother and wife one could ask for.
I enjoy changing nappies.
What will we see you in next?
There are a couple of films I have liked and am in the process of finalising them.