Sonil Dedhia in Mumbai
At 13, Darsheel Safary gets to play the youngest superhero in the world.
And he's got Bollywood's top star Aamir Khan to endorse him. Khan called the media to his home to sing praises of his Taare Zameen Par discovery a few days before the release of Darsheel's new film Zokkomon.
Darsheel is visibly kicked about playing superhero, and he tells Sonil Dedhia all about it:
You are the youngest actor ever to play a superhero in a film.
Yes (smiles). It's a dream come true for me. I had always wanted to play a superhero but I'd assumed I wouldn't get to do that until I was 25. I'm lucky to have got the opportunity at 13.
How was it playing a superhero?
It was a little difficult but also very exciting. I was thrilled to see the Zokkomon costume. Whenever I wore the costume, I felt like a superhero. It would make me feel that I possessed some superpowers for real. I would keep it on even after pack-up.
'I trained under Jackie Chan's trainer for the film'
What did you learn from the film?
I learnt a lot of things. As it is a superhero film, there were a lot of special effects. I had to do a lot of stunts and there were some cool gadgets. I had a lot of fun on the sets. It was a great learning experience for me.
What special training did you take?
I did all my training with William Ong, Jackie Chan's trainer. I trained with him for two months. We had so much fun. He taught me how to use the harness, how to do the stunts and all the safety measures. I get to fly in the film, over buildings and rescue people. I felt like a hero.
Were you not scared of doing all the stunts?
No, I was not scared. I was just told to be firm and believe in whatever I was doing. The director (Satyajit Bhatkal) told me to recite the dialogue 'Mann me hai vishwas to har darr hai bakwas' which we use in the film, that gave me a lot of confidence.
'My mask looks much cooler than Krissh'
Who are your favourite superheroes?
I like Spiderman. But since I have worked in a superhero film now, and I am playing one, I think I will go with Zokkomon.
Your mask seems quite similar to Hrithik Roshan's mask in Krissh.
No it's not. It's completely different. But I can tell you one thing: my mask looks cooler than Krissh's mask.
Zokkomon sounds similar to Pokemon, Doremon etc.
The first time when I met the director, I thought the same. After my first meeting with him, I ran home and started searching the names of Pokemon, Doremon, Digimon and just prayed that Zokkomon was not inspired from any of the cartoons. And it is not. I don't watch cartoons. We named it Zokkomon because of the phonetic. It sounds very cool. (Smiles)
'I'm taking all my friends for Zokkomon premiere'
Do you recall any funny incident during the shoot?
We were shooting during the monsoon. Because of the lightening and thundershowers, we had been given a two-hour break. I started watching Michael Jackson's video, Thriller, on my laptop. Suddenly I started dancing and then everyone on the sets joined me. Anupam uncle (Kher) danced with me too.
How do you manage your studies?
My friends in school are very helpful and they would keep me updated with whatever was being taught. They also help me with my notes. I manage my studies on the sets. During breaks, I sit with my teacher who comes on the sets to teach me. So it is not very difficult to manage studies.
Are you treated as a star-kid in school?
No, I am treated like other normal kids. My friends keep me grounded. I manage my studies on the sets. My friends were very happy when they heard that I was to play a superhero. They want me to take them for the premier of the movie and I am going to take them all for it.
'I have a girlfriend but I won't reveal her name until I'm 18'
What do you like about yourself as an actor?
I love acting. I love to sign autographs but sometimes it gets annoying when girls come and pull my cheeks.
Do you have a girlfriend?
Yes I have a girlfriend but I am not going to tell her name till I am 18.
Have you fixed your teeth?
Yes.. Everyone keeps saying I looked better with my teeth protruding, but I don't agree with that. I think this makes me look better.
What are the other things that interest you apart from acting?
I like football. I play football with my friends near my house. I also like swimming. But acting is my passion and being in front of the camera is something I have always wanted to do since childhood. I would make faces and enact scenes and even dance in front of camera.
You are also doing Deepa Mehta's Midnight Children.
Yes, I am playing the role of young Salim Sinai. I have already shot for it in Sri Lanka. That is all I can reveal about the film for now.