Bhasin in Manto
Having made a mark with his negative act in Mardaani (2014), Tahir Raj Bhasin is hopeful that his upcoming Nandita Das-directed venture, Manto, will bring him back into the spotlight. Having slipped into the role of the late Indian actor Sundar Shyam Chaddha, a close aide of the film’s protagonist, writer Saadat Hasan Manto, Bhasin says building a friendship with leading man Nawazuddin Siddiqui was crucial.
“Shyam was Manto’s confidante, an inspiration for many of his stories. Manto and Shyam connected due to their rebellious streak and common views against the establishment. Every time these two come together on screen, a different side of Manto must be revealed,” says Bhasin as he chronicles why their relationship is crucial in driving the film forward. Inevitably, building a friendship with Siddiqui off-screen became essential to portray it aptly on it.
“We spent time with Nandita to understand how to approach our roles. We travelled together during shoots, and sometimes, spent time in each other’s vans. We chatted about our respective journeys and films. It was the bond we created off-screen that we were able to replicate before the camera.”
Like a bevy of other artiste collaborating with Siddiqui do, Tahir Raj Bhasin says he too had a lot to take away from the association. “I must remain humble, grounded and devoted to my craft, like he is. He moulds himself into each characters uninhibitedly, regardless of the film’s scale. He is not intimidating, but when he is your partner, you need to bring your best game forward.” As for his director, Bhasin describes Das’s direction as “intricate”. “If you ask her what’s on any page, she will know it. So, I had to be on my toes.”