'I’ve played Salman Khan’s friend. How can I play anyone else’s friend?'
Meet Sultan actor Anant Vidhaat.
Theatre actor Anant Vidhaat has got everyone in Bollywood talking about him, thanks to his scene-stealing act as Salman Khan's loyal friend Govind in Sultan.
Anant, who hails from Delhi, says, "It’s just coincidence that I have done two films -- Mardaani and Gunday -- for Yash Raj Films.
"I got Gunday because (director) Ali Abbas Zafar and I were in the same theatre group in Delhi. He remembered me when he was casting Salman sir’s best friend in Sultan. I was called for an audition, and that’s how I got the role."
Little did Anant know he would be flooded with praise for his performance in the film.
"I am grateful for all the attention. There’s a lot of curious inquiry about who I am, where I come from... In theatre, when we perform, we get applause and attention but this is recognition on another level altogether. I can’t thank Ali Abbas Zafar and Salman sir enough for the faith they showed in me," he says.
Talking about his experience of working with Salman, Anant reveals, "Right at the start of shooting when I was very nervous about facing the camera with a big star, he called me aside and said, ‘Agar tum achche dikhoge toh main achcha dikhunga, agar tum achche nahin dikhoge toh main bhi achcha nahin dikhunga.’ That broke the ice.
"From that moment on, Salman sir laid down the mood for the film. We shot as co-stars and I was never made to feel I was working with a superstar."
While Anant comes from the discipline associated with theatre, Salman is known to improvise. But the former had no problems adjusting to the latter's style.
He says, "We do a lot of rehearsal in theatre but we also have a lot of improvisation on stage. So I had no difficulty catching on to Salman sir’s sur. A lot of what we do on stage is impromptu. And that’s Salman sir’s style. While working with him, I never knew what to expect. That element of surprise was an ongoing thrill while shooting."
The reason Anant’s buddy role has turned out so effectively is because the writing was conducive to a creative environment.
Explains Anant, "My character has a responsibility. He has to tell Sultan’s story. We know the place he occupies in Sultan’s life. Normally, roles of the hero’s friends are not written so well in Hindi films. I wasn't sure at first but I am glad I did the role. Now when I am offered a routine hero’s friend’s role, I can always argue, ‘I’ve played Salman Khan’s friend. How can I play anyone else’s friend?"
Apart from Salman, the Gunday actor also enjoyed working with Amit Sadh and Kumud Mishra who plays Anushka Sharma’s father.
"Kumud Sir and I are both from theatre, so there was a special bonding with him," says Anant.
As for the Haryanvi accent, Anant chuckles, "I am asked if I am actually from Haryana. I’ve lots of Haryanvi friends in Delhi, and I am a good observer. In my next film if I am asked to do a Bihari accent, I can do that just as well."