Darsheel Safary was only 10 years old when he achieved fame for playing the role of a dyslexic child, Ishaan Awasthi, in Taare Zameen Par (2007). Safary, 22, is now part of a theatrical production titled Kaise Karenge? In an exclusive conversation with Guardian 20, he talks about tasting success at a young age and his career plans ahead.
Q. Tell us about your upcoming playKaise Karenge?
A. Kaise Karenge?is an urban Hindi play. It is about two brothers, Saurav and Kapil Parasrampuria. I play the character of Saurav, the younger brother, who is a genius and is about to get into MIT. Abhishek Pattnaik plays the role of Kapil, who is anything but a genius. Suddenly a tragedy strikes and it is found out that Kapil has developed multiple personality disorder. It follows with Saurav coping with his problems and how he makes the best out of the situation.
Q. You have been focusing more on theatre of late.Kaise Karenge? is your third play in recent years. Does that mean you prefer theatre over Bollywood?
A. Acting is a passion. I don’t care if it is theatre, film or TV. Right now, I am doing theatre because I am learning so much from it. Also, I’m enjoying myself performing in front of a live audience. I really want to be much better than what people have seen me doing when I return in front of the camera.
Q. Taare Zameen Parwas your debut film and it was a challenging role to play. How do you look back at Ishaan now? How difficult was it to prepare for that role?
A. I was very young when that happened and was very busy having a blast. I was lucky to have Aamir [Khan] to guide me. There was also a lot of Darsheel in Ishaan. I am very attached to that character and think of it as a dear memory.
Q. Did you always want to be an actor?
A. Everyone wants to be an actor. I realised there was something in it for me when I was shooting for Taare Zameen Par. After that, it’s been a step-by-step journey to sharpen myself as an actor and gain more experience in this field.
Q. Is there any specific role you wish to play in the near future?
A. I think I will have to write the character myself. I don’t want to get stuck on any sort of role. I am open to anything that intrigues me. I am always excited about doing something that is impactful. I choose a story on the basis of what kind of role I want to do.
Q. Your first film was a huge hit. But do you feel any sort of pressure as a young actor because people expect a lot from you now?
A. Like I said, I was quite young when all this happened so I was saved from the pressure bit as I was busy having fun. But yes, I’ve realised how important pressure is in order to really bring out the best in you. You need to channel that pressure and motivate yourself. It is all about how much you believe in yourself and your ability as an actor.
Q. How do you prepare yourself before going live in front of an audience?
A. After we have finished rehearsals, I just go to my room and listen to music and try and focus on my character. I try to visualise myself on the stage. One thing I keep telling myself is to express myself. I have some black coffee for the caffeine kick and then I just go on stage.
Q. You were quite young when you did your first film. Did you ever rethink your career options after that?
A. I don’t think anyone thinks about career when you’re eight or nine years old. The experience of shooting was fun, which enabled me to discover the acting potential in me and it slowly developed into a passion.
Q. How do you handle the constant attention that comes with stardom?
A. It is amazing to have people who don’t know you but really like you or your work. Everyone comes to ask for pictures and autographs. Whenever I meet people, I don’t want anyone to be not happy after meeting me. I still get embarrassed, though. Sometimes it makes me nervous, so I just go out for a walk in the night, to the seaface or something, and listen to music. I simply enjoy it. I am happy when people appreciate what I have done and it motivates me to keep going.
Q. What’s next in the pipeline?
A. I am focusing on theatre as of now, and will probably announce a film soon.