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Shantanu Maheshwari on working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali: 'Gangubai Kathiawadi' a dream debut

Shantanu Maheshwari, who plays Afsaan opposite Alia Bhatt's Gangubai in the film, also recalled how he bagged the role. The actor said he received a call from the movie's casting director Shruti Mahajan to audition for the part and what followed were several more rounds that went on for two months.

Reported by: PTI New Delhi Published on: February 23, 2022 20:38 IST
Shantanu Maheshwari on working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali: 'Gangubai Kathiawadi' a dream debut
Image Source : INSTA/SHANTANUMAHESHWARI

Shantanu Maheshwari on working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali: 'Gangubai Kathiawadi' a dream debut

Shantanu Maheshwari, who is making his feature film debut with "Gangubai Kathiawadi", says it was a great learning experience for him to work with a perfectionist like Sanjay Leela Bhansali on his debut project. The 30-year-old, best known for his TV debut in Channel V's "Dil Dosti Dance" and reality show "Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa", said it is "overwhelming" to be a part of the soon-to-be-released film. Asked about the experience of being directed by Bhansali, Maheshwari told PTI, "He is not a taskmaster. Once you understand the level of passion that he has, you will not call him that because he is a perfectionist. He knows what he wants and is particular about everything.

"He pursues and never gives up on what he desires and what he is aiming for. He knows his team including actors well and he is not over ambitious.

There are times when people have a bad day and they are not able to deliver and he gives them time."

The Kolkata-born artiste, also popular for winning "World of Dance" 2015 championship and "Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi 8", had no formal training in acting but decided to pursue a career in front of the camera after he starred in "Dil Dosti Dance".

"I started giving equal importance to both acting as well as dancing as I enjoyed both. I have been auditioning for films and shows since 'D3' days."

Maheshwari, who plays Afsaan opposite Alia Bhatt's Gangubai in the film, also recalled how he bagged the role. The actor said he received a call from the movie's casting director Shruti Mahajan to audition for the part and what followed were several more rounds that went on for two months.

"Shruti ma'am called me and said sir is looking for a fresh face. Usually, there is news on the internet that his next film is this but there was no concrete news on this. So, I was rather casual about it and was not nervous. However, my idea was to give auditions properly as I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity if the news is true," he said.

When he landed the role, Maheshwari said it took him some time to truly believe that he was going to star in a film by Bhansali, one of India's most sought after filmmakers known for "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam", Devdas", and "Bajirao Mastani", among others.

"I have never dreamt of making it to his films or to get a chance to work with him. I remember when I got selected for the film, I was in absolute disbelief after Shruti ma'am broke the news to me. I was blank. It was too much to absorb, I was overwhelmed. It's a dream debut."

Asked about romancing Bhatt on screen, the actor said it was not something he was intimidated about. "She was friendly, approachable and collaborative and it didn’t feel like I am working with Alia Bhatt," he said.

But films would not have happened to him if it were not for his mother, who first spotted his dancing talent.

"My mother, who herself is a passionate dancer and singer, kept pushing me. We had no idea about how to get into it. We just had to keep working and hoping that something would happen."

Maheshwari also credits his success to his stints on the small screen.

"I have worked with youth TV channels like Channel V and MTV and it gives you limited reach in terms of audience. When I did GEC shows like 'Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa' and 'Khatron Ke Khiladi', it helped me in getting more recognition and in getting more work and finally reaching here," he added.

"Gangubai Kathiawadi" is slated to be released in theatres Friday.

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