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Shantanu Maheshwari: Sanjay sir gave me confidence

Updated on: 18 April,2023 03:09 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Letty Mariam Abraham |

Gangubai Kathiawadi actor Shantanu says Bhansali’s faith in him gave confidence to explore fantasy romance, Tooth Pari

Shantanu Maheshwari: Sanjay sir gave me confidence

Tooth Pari

Even before Gangubai Kathiawadi (2022) came his way, Shantanu Maheshwari was a TV star in his own right. The Sanjay Leela Bhansali film, however, evoked in him the hunger to be a part of interesting stories. This pursuit has now led him to Netflix’s upcoming series, Tooth Pari: When Love Bites, which revolves around the unlikely romance between a dentist and vampire. In conversation with mid-day, the actor shares his initial skepticism about the world of vampires, and how director Pratim Dasgupta allayed his fears.

Edited excerpts from the interview.

When you were offered Tooth Pari, how did you imagine its world to be?
I was not aware of this world because I hadn’t seen any of the Twilight films when Tooth Pari was offered to me. I was not a fan of fantasy fiction. I knew that people have tried to remake Twilight or something along those lines on [Indian] television, but they didn’t sustain for long. When they roped me in, I thought that the show would be something like Twilight. It’s only when I read the synopsis that it felt like a different approach.

Were you nervous about facing the camera with established actors like Revathy, Adil Hussain and Tillotama Shome?
I had just finished shooting for Gangubai Kathiawadi [2022] at that time. I had worked with Sanjay [Leela Bhansali] sir, so I was ready to work with anyone. He was happy with my work, which gave me a bit of confidence. The actors are all so humble and collaborative. Having been in the industry for long, they are secure in their craft. It was fun to understand their process. They were happy to express what they liked in [my performance] and how we can up the scene.

Does Bhansali’s approach differ vastly from that of other directors?
He doesn’t give you many instructions; he wants you to get in the skin of the character, and then he tweaks it. He gives you your space to perform unless you go off track. Pratim [Dasgupta] sir is easy-going, he believed in me from the beginning and I am not used to that [laughs]. Most of them are skeptical whether I can pull off a role. I take it up as a challenge to prove people wrong. Pratim sir knew I was his Dr Roy. I bombarded him with questions [to get clarity] about my character, and he answered them patiently; he was always receptive to [suggestions].
Was your journey in showbiz a planned move?
You can’t plan Sanjay sir for your debut film [laughs]. You can only make [informed] choices from the opportunities coming your way. The only thing I’ve strategised in my career is [the decision] of not doing daily soaps, especially the saas-bahu dramas. I got many offers, but felt I didn’t fit the bill. I didn’t want to do anything for just the money.

Also Read: Ajay Devgn, Tabu, Saiee M Manjrekar, Shantanu Maheshwari signed for 'Auron Mein Kaha Dam Tha'

Will you shake a leg in the show?
There is no [dancing] in this show. In my earlier projects, I said no to dancing if I felt that the character doesn’t need it. I don’t have a problem not dancing. People have the perception that the audience may not accept [a non-dancing Maheshwari], but if the maker is convinced that I can portray the character, we don’t need to use such gimmicks. I don’t think Pratim sir knew of my dancing background.


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