He left a strong impression with his debut film 'I Am Kalam', which released when he was just twelve years old. His recent film 'Hichki', in which he played an unruly and aggressive teenager from the ghettos, has brought him back in the limelight. With time, Harsh Mayar has only turned into a better performer. In this interview, he talks about his experience of working on the film, dancing with Shah Rukh Khan, the importance of doing quality work and future projects.
You made your debut as a child artiste in 'I Am Kalam' which released in 2011. You did a couple of films and a television show as well. But, it is your performance in 'Hichki' that has brought you back in the reckoning. Would you agree to that?
You auditioned for 'Hichki' two years back. How was the experience of working on the film?
Every actor would like to get associated with Yash Raj Films. I was working in Delhi till two years back. I reached Mumbai on 22 March 2016, which also happens to be my birthday. I had auditioned for the film on the same day. I did not get any calls or notification for almost seven months after I had auditioned for the film. Then, towards the end of the year, I received a call from them informing me that I have been selected for the film and will be attending workshops soon. The workshops went on for a long time and then, finally in April last year, we started shooting for the film.
You had shared a picture with Shah Rukh Khan on social media. What is the biggest compliment you have received for the film till date?
I had a dream to perform or show some of my skills in front of Shah Rukh sir. When I got a chance to meet him, I mimicked him in front of him and even danced with him. Even though he had not seen the film by then, he congratulated and hugged me. Aamir Khan sir had seen the film. He had called to meet him personally. He was very sweet and had some good things to say about my performance. The biggest compliment an actor can get is from the audience. I was watching the film in a theatre in Mumbai and I saw the audience clapping during a scene. I became very emotional and thought that my hard work has paid off.
You also got to meet someone whom very few people get to see, Aditya Chopra. What did you talk to him about?
First, I could not recognize him as I had not seen his pictures or anything. I got to interact with him only for a couple of minutes. I went to touch his feet but he said 'pair-vair mat chhu, gale mil'. He hugged me and said that he loved my performance in the film.
You must have had more interactions with Maneesh Sharma who was the producer of the film.
Yes, Maneesh sir was there throughout the shot of the film. I had a lot of wonderful discussions with him. I danced a lot with him in parties. Very few people are aware of the fact that he is a great dancer.
You are twenty years old but you look much younger than your age. Do you see it as an advantage or a disadvantage?
I think it is an advantage for any actor to look young. If I look young, I will get younger roles to play for a long time.
You started out playing the lead role as a child artiste. Now, do you aspire to play lead parts as an adult actor too?
I have never run after lead roles. I just want to play characters that leave an impact. People see heroes in a different light. Heroes are mostly larger-than-life. I want to portray a character that comes across as real and people can identify with. I watched 'Hichki' nine to ten times in a the theatre to gauge the reaction of the people. I interacted with the audience and most of them told me that they felt as if they were seeing themselves on the screen. That made me feel very good.
You have done theatre, films and television. Would you like to explore the digital space as well?
If a good offer comes my way, I will definitely do it. I had heard a few interesting subjects but for some reason, none of them took off. I do not want to be a part of something that is repetitive or does not explore anything new. I think one should try and create something unique and original on the web. After seeing my performance in 'Hichki', people's expectations have shot up and now, they expect to see me doing good work. Even if it takes some time, I will wait for the right project to come my way.
Are you working on any project at the moment?
I have come to Delhi almost after a year and a half to meet my parents. 'Hichki' kept me busy for long and if I did not get a chance to come and see them.So, I wish to relax for a while. I have just finished shooting for an international film called 'The Tenant'. Shamita Shetty is making her comeback with that film. I have played an interesting character in the film.
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