Ashish Sharma is a superlative performer, who accepts interesting challenges whenever he sets foot at work. We have seen him playing the intense Avdhesh Singh in Gunahon Ka Devta, and also the warrior Chandragupta Maurya. Then came the contrastingly different characters in shows Rab Se Sohna Isshq and Rangrasiya. He emerged the winner in his very first outing at the reality front, with Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa. He later showed his anchoring skills in Tujhse Naaraaz Nahin Zindagi, and now is the newest Ram on television.
Here are the excerpts:
Starting from Gunahon Ka Devta, how do you see the growth in your career on TV?
When I look back now, I can say it’s been a wonderful journey. I have earned some good appreciation, worked with some amazingly talented craftsmen and in turn they have enhanced me as an individual and as an actor. I pity those who think lowly of TV as this is the biggest medium globally, and has given one of the biggest superstar actors and technicians to the nation.
You started your work with the movie Love Sex Aur Dhoka. So when do you plan to hit Bollywood again?
I have not planned anything. For me, mediums are not the priority; what I am doing in there is what matters. So I will do anything that catches my fancy next.
You have always consciously accepted roles that are staggeringly different. How do you decide on the show you pick up? What do you look for in a role?
It’s more of a gut feeling, you see!! Usually I know in the first meeting whether I am doing it or not. It’s about the vibe and the vision and conviction of the maker and it needs to be clear. As far as roles go in TV I look for dynamism for the audience to enjoy, and layers so that I can play it for a longer time before it becomes monotonous.
What convinced you to play Ram on the small screen? This is a role which has been seen often and has been played by many before. So what motivated you to take it up?
The first and foremost reason was that it was offered to me by Mr. Nikhil Sinha, as he is the person responsible for me being in TV. I couldn’t say no to him and when he narrates a story, it’s his passion that speaks. Secondly, Ram is the biggest Indian mythological character one can ever get to play and it becomes all the more fun and challenging when you have to surpass a certain benchmark already set, and thirdly I am doing this for my grandfather as he is a staunch believer of Lord Ram. It’s my gift for him.
Your journey as Ram in Siya Ke Ram. How has it been so far?
It has been a joyous ride so far. I have shot in some amazing locations, and am working with a warm crew and talented co-actors.
After Jhalak, we hear you were physically very tired and exhausted. How did you motivate yourself and get back to shape?
Yes, after Jhalak it took me almost four months to heal myself. I still carry few injuries here and there, and I kept my body in a neutral shape as I change it according to what I play next. So I guess Ram is what motivated me to transform yet again.
What kept you busy during your break before Siya Ke Ram happened?
My wife, Archana Taide, my three babies (pups) is what kept me busy mostly. They needed my time and I too needed that time with them. I travelled a lot with Archana.
What is the kind of preparation that you had to go through to play Ram?
Of course, there were physical preparations as Nikhilji was very clear about how his Ram is going to look. So he described me the whole look, and I only suggested to keep my original hair. So I grew them for almost 5-6 months and took that time to get in shape. I worked on minute details such as Ram was an archer, so my upper back shoulders and arms needed to be strong. I learnt mixed martial arts to get the agility for action sequences, and also learnt archery. Secondly came the internal preparation to achieve a certain state of calmness which Ram is known for. I have started meditating; I have grown up listening to chaupais from my grandfather so that came in handy.
Have you got adjusted to the pattern of shooting out of Mumbai?
Well, not completely. I am still figuring out (smiles).
How’s life out there in Hyderabad? How do you keep yourself busy when you have time at your disposal?
It’s mostly work only, as I have not got much free time in the last few months. My free time is spent mostly reading books which I have carried along, or watching a movie in my DVD player which Archana gifted knowing my addiction to movies.
Tough being away from family and wife?
Yes, indeed it’s really hard to be away from home and family. I miss my wife and my kids so much. I can still talk to Archana on phone, but cannot do that with my puppies. When we have time on hand, Archana tries to show them on a video call and they go crazy seeing me. Guess spending quality time with Archana is going to be my New Year resolution.
Tell us about the shooting lifestyle in Ramoji Film City? What are the things that fascinate you while shooting there?
It is a hectic schedule, as the sequences are difficult to shoot and takes lot of time. Mostly we are in and around the studio; it’s fun to be shooting next door to Ajay Devgn’s Shivay set (smiles). All the international action crew keep rehearsing there. I am friends with them, so they teach us a thing or two as well (wink). Plus the whole Film City is at par with international standards; everything is inhouse so we practically live in a small township.
The opening TRPs of Siya Ke Ram are not huge. Does it affect you?
I don’t understand ratings, so I don’t work for them. There is a whole system which takes care of it and being an actor I am just a medium to convey my makers’ vision to the audience and I stick to that.
How is it working with Nikhil Sinha and his team?
I have known Nikhilji for almost eight years now; he was the one who recommended my name for Gunahon ka Devta and even convinced me, rather forced me to go for it. We have an unsaid equation and he doesn’t have to explain things to me. We understand each others’ strengths and it becomes smooth to function. Also he is a very understanding and soft-hearted person. He is less of a producer and more of a guide and philosopher, and the whole team follow his vision and style of functioning.
Your first big show with Star Plus. How does it feel to be the face of the channel?
Again it’s definitely overwhelming to be working for Star Plus and I have had amazing relationships with all my channels earlier. And it’s the same here too. I feel responsible to live up to the faith they have instilled in me with their biggest show and guess I like taking up such big responsibilities (smiles).
Working relationship with co-actors on the show…. How is it to work with veteran actor Dalip Tahil?
Everybody is professional on the sets; all the actors are co-operative and it’s a pleasure to be working with seasoned actors like Dalipji and Grushaji and of course, I am extremely happy to be with Manishji (Wadhwa) once again after Chandragupta Maurya. We have lot of fun on the sets together.
Your wife Archana is managing the production house that you have set up and even writes too. How do you both pep each other up at regular intervals to keep doing good work?
Archana is the producer, writer. I am merely for namesake; she handles everything single-handedly. She is busy writing scripts for our future ventures and I am there to help her in them. She even takes care of all the monies as well; she is a multitasker and a good one at that. I feel completely paralyzed without her; she actually is the pivot of my life both professionally and personally.
Archana has stayed away from acting post marriage. Is this a conscious decision?
Archana hasn’t stayed away from acting as such. The fact is that nothing has excited her much. Even now she keeps getting lot of offers, but she has the ‘done it all’ feeling. She will surely take up acting offers if they challenge her in any away. First and foremost, she is an actor.
When are you both extending your family?
We have already extended our family; we are a family of five and we are extremely happy with ourselves at this point of time.