Old Spice, Classic Rock gave me the kick as I prepared for my role in Sultan of Delhi: Tahir Raj Bhasin

Arijit Bose

Lucknow: In recent years, Bollywood has been a cradle of some really gripping crime related plots where actors of note have portrayed with precision mobsters and crime lords bringing to light the dark underbelly of criminal characters. With new storylines, even the scripting and narratives have evolved. This coupled with great acting, cinema is at the cusp of a new era.  Tahir Raj Bhasin is known for his performances in films like 83, Looop Lapeta, and the show Yeh Kaali Kaali Aakhein. His next big venture is Milan Lutharia’s historical crime thriller show, Sultan Of Delhi. Starting life in 2012 the actor has since acted in a number of well-regarded movies and television shows.

Speaking to The Lucknow Tribune, Tahir Raj Bhasin spoke about his experience working on a variety of projects over the past few years. He shares his method and his gut feeling bout which way the next wave of cinema is heading. He stresses on the need to reinvent oneself as a star.

Sultan of Delhi is Milan’s first foray into the OTT world. Tahir Raj Bhasin, Annjum Sharma, Vinay Pathak, Nishant Dahiya, Anupriya Goenka, Mouni Roy, Harleen Sethi, and Mehreen Pirzada are among the actors who appear in the show. Since October 13th, the series has been available for streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.

Tell us about your role? What attracts you to a plot around 60s crime?

I am overwhelmed at the accolades I’m getting for my role as Arjun Bhatia in Sultan of Delhi . I have never seen this level of curiosity for a character I’ve played . Arjun is a hustler and a dreamer. His is one of the most exhilarating parts I have ever played. He is a fascinating Alpha male hero who can be endearing and incredibly romantic but also a fierce warrior when the need arises ; This made him extremely challenging to play.  Arjun Bhatia is a protagonist born with a silver spoon but at a very young age everything is snatched away from him and through the series he must rise to his destiny and attempt to claw his way back to the top.

What attracted me to the plot was the the enormous challenge of playing out a sense of a life lived and the journey from a boy to a man . The fact that is set with the backdrop of 60s crime meant it would be suave and retro which would add to the vibe of the show that the audience is now loving.

Amidst a wide range of crime plots, how do you see modern day crime writing with regards to Bollywood?

I’m very proud about the fact the Sultan of Delhi is an adaptation of a best seller novel of the same name written by Indian author Arnab Ray . What made his writing stand out for me is that it was laced with vivid detail and painted a cinematic picture that was destined to be translated onto screen . I met author Arnab Ray at our premiere and he said he was very proud to see the protagonist Arjun Bhatia and his sultan come alive on screen. Modern day India crime writing in the is treasure trove of source material of stories waiting to be told.

How has the experience been working with Milan Luthria?

It was an absolute privilege to work with Milan Luthria. He is such a master of his craft , methodical , detailed and yet leaves breathing room for last minute flashes of creativity. Milan Sirs films are stuff of legends and I remember watching Kacche Dhagge as a child loving the sense of adventure his stories bring to screen. The style he brought to his Once upon a time is so iconic that when I heard he is going to create a world that mixed the adventure of kacche dhaage and the iconic vintage charm of Once upon a time I felt like it was a childhood dream come true . I have learnt so much about action and body language from Milan sirs constant attention to detail but mostly I have learnt how to have fun when you’re creating and enjoy the process.

You pick a variety of shades in 83, kaali kaali aankhein Or looop lapeta. Your biggest takeaways from your film repertoire?

I love doing clutter breaking parts . The key is to constantly reinvent yourself . The joy of creating is in venturing into new , uncharted territory and that has been my biggest take away from all the diverse parts I have played in YKKA , 83 , Looop Lapeta and now Sultan of Delhi.

Why do you think, OTT is the next big deal?

OTT allows long format story telling and great writing to flourish . It is where rules can be bent and the boundaries of story telling can be pushed . It is a very exciting time in the OTT scene.

Typically how do you get into the skin of your role?

My most recent adventure was getting into character for Sultan of Delhi. To start with I read the original book to get a sense of the overall story  . To understand the political and economic state of the country at the time I watched a few documentaries that really put the state of Delhi after the partition in perspective . After our costume trials were done I took the vintage jeans and boots so I could literally walk in the characters shoes . I used old spice for weeks before the shoot because I associate its scent with vintage nostalgia. I also had a playlist of classic rock from the 60’s and 70’s.

There was an interesting aspect about the script because of which I instantly connected with Arjun Bhatia . Arjun is a dreamer and a romantic and not one to shy away from a challenge . At the same time there’s a boyish adventurousness to his demeanour . All of these character traits constantly reminded me of my own mindset when I first came to Mumbai and are traits that continue to be a part of me through my journey in Bollywood so far . My character Arjun Bhatia is a boy from outside his industry chasing a dream , it doesn’t get more similar than that with regards to my own journey !

With a Masters in Media from Melbourne how do you turnaround theoretical knowledge into practical execution when the camera rolls?

I feel education of any kind never goes waste . I use my background in film and media studies in intangible ways that help me from everything from engaging with the script more fully , to having more informed discussions with director and screen writers to embodying a leadership role when it comes to the behind the scenes machinery of communicating effectively with my team at my talent management agency that constantly works to help me carve my path in Mumbai .

Your message to youngsters wanting to make a mark in Bollywood?

My message would be to learn your craft . Find an area of interest and value an education , create a skill set because that will be your only calling card . Also respect that any art is a life long process of learning and trust that anything of value takes time .

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