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Heroes aren’t made in a day

Updated on: 09 October,2023 07:11 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Priyanka Sharma |

With Sultan of Delhi demanding a flamboyant protagonist, director Luthria discusses how he guided Tahir to play larger-than-life character

Heroes aren’t made in a day

Tahir Raj Bhasin

Flamboyance runs deep in the protagonists of Milan Luthria’s films, be it Ajay Devgn’s Sultan Mirza in Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai (2010) or Vidya Balan’s Reshma in The Dirty Picture (2011). Naturally, when he developed his maiden series Sultan of Delhi, the director created a swashbuckling hero in Arjun, who hopes to become Delhi’s most powerful gangster. Tahir Raj Bhasin, whose ability to portray aggression and vulnerability in Mardaani had impressed him, was his first choice for the role.

Transforming the actor into the ambitious Arjun required some hand-holding, says Luthria. “In the beginning, Tahir was unable to understand what I was saying since it was a new world to him. I told him, ‘Flamboyance has as much to do with your mind as with your body language and voice.’ Initially, Tahir felt he needed to keep some distance from me because of my seniority. But we [bridged that gap],” recollects the director, happy that it evolved into a creatively fulfilling partnership, where each brought his strengths to the table. “There were moments when he would say, ‘I want you to show me how to do this.’ For instance, there is a flamboyant shot of him taking out a rifle from a car and firing at a jeep. I showed him how to do it. At the end of the day, Tahir brought his own dimension and took the character a notch above.”

If there was another actor Luthria was certain about casting in the Disney+ Hotstar gangster drama, it was Mouni Roy. The director says, “I saw a picture of Mouni on Instagram, and had a vision of Nayantara [her character]. I felt there was a side of her—sexual, soft, subtle yet bold at times—that hadn’t been captured. [When we met], we instantly connected, which made working with her easy.”

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