Ahan Shetty is the new kid on the block. The son of popular action hero Suniel Shetty, Ahan is all set to carry forward the legacy of his father as well as carve a niche of his own. He will be seen opposite Tara Sutaria in Sajid Nadiadwala’s upcoming production Tadap. The film is set to release in theatres on December 3. We caught up for a conversation with him. Excerpts:
How does it feel now that you are about to make your big Bollywood debut?
I’m so happy. I got a backing from Sajid sir, and Milan (Luthria) sir is directing the film. Also, I got to work with Tara. All this means a lot to me. I am really excited to share this film with the world.
How did you bag the main lead in Tadap?
Once I graduated in 2014, I started training. Two years later, Sajid sir saw my dance and action video on Instagram. When I met him, he simply said, “I liked your dance and action. Can you act?” I sent him a full DVD of the theatre acts I performed in school, and he liked it.
From the trailer of Tadap, one can see that you seemed to have performed very well. You seem very passionate about acting...
When I started performing drama in school, I fell in love with acting. It was therapeutic for me as I was an introvert and shy person. I could not emote my emotions as I kept them bottled up inside me. Everyone has frustrations. You do feel sad, low and angry. I was able to express that angst and rage through my acting capabilities.
A lot is being said about your onscreen kiss with Tara. Did you have any inhibitions?
Actually, a funny thing happened to us. Milan sir gave us a scene from The Dirty Picture. Initially, my hands were shivering, but we got so close for the scene that later, performing emotional scenes went well. Tara and I became comfortable with each other.
Would you say you learnt a lot during the shoot?
In terms of learning camera angles, lighting, etc., it was a learning experience. Milan sir would always help me out.
Since your film has quite a few action sequences and currently Tiger Shroff is famous for the same, do you think a comparison between you both is inevitable?
Comparison is very healthy. We all need to take it in a positive manner. Tiger is fantastic in terms of action. He has set the bar really high.
Do you think Bollywood is a highly competitive space to be in?
I don’t think it’s a competition. Not that I’m so good and I’m competition to others. Honestly, if you start thinking that way, you lose yourself. I am not worried about what others are doing, so it’s important to go and do your work. I am very happy about the work others are doing in the industry and taking it ahead. I don’t look at working here as competition. As so many films are being made. Plus OTT has also helped everyone get more work. We are all in a good space.
Star kids are known to assist filmmakers as ADs to learn the ropes of the industry before facing the camera. Did you assist anyone?
Yes. I did assist Rohit (Shetty) sir for 15 days when he was shooting Dilwale. I shadowed Rohit sir and Shah Rukh (Khan) sir and got to learn a lot from them. I was also part of a song for Judwaa 2. I observed Varun (Dhawan) and got to know him as well. Following the actors, I noticed how they switched on and off before and after the scene — going back to their normal self. It is really good to be able to switch on and off.
Did you discuss Tadap with Rohit? What was his reaction?
When I was assisting him, I had to keep my distance because I was the last AD. Even though I’m from the industry, I have relations, but you have to be professional when you are on the sets. During that period of time, I didn’t interact with him. But dad is close to him. We do meet. He always encourages me to do better work and choose the right scripts. He has been a credible support system. Due to Covid-19, I have not met him for almost two years now. When Tadap was announced, he was the first person to call me up and was very happy for me. He has seen me grow up and is like family to me.
How was the first time you faced the camera? Could you share that experience?
My first shot brought in a nostalgic moment as we were shooting in a theatre in South Mumbai. Incidentally, my grandfather’s (Veerapa Shetty) restaurant happened to be next to the theatre. He had started his journey from here. Right next to it, I was starting my journey in Bollywood. It was indeed a great moment. My parents (Suniel and Mana Shetty) were there. I was definitely nervous, but once you start shooting, you get into the character.
You are being introduced as a hero. Did you feel a sense of heroism on the sets?
Walking onto the sets as a hero, I never thought about it. I’m just another part of a group that was making a film. Everyone is working very hard on the sets, be it a light man or a spot boy; every single person deserves the same respect. I never thought and still don’t think of myself as a hero. Going forward, I have to be myself. I can’t let the praise and love get to my head. My motto is to stay grounded, keep my head down and work to the best of my ability.
What does tadap mean to you?
There is always that feeling of love, happiness, and success. I feel that’s an integral part of whatever you are doing and people around you, like your family and friends, play an important role in your life.
Will you only focus on doing action films?
I will definitely not focus only on the action genre. I want to give my best performance in varied roles. And through good stories, I wish to be able to perform well.