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Fable Fever with Sohum Shah

On the completion of one year of fantasy drama Tumbbad, actor-producer Sohum Shah talks to Titas Chowdhury on what made the film such a gem, his plans of creating a franchise and his admiration for Bard Of Blood producer Shah Rukh Khan


Congratulations on Tumbbad completing one year of release! The film opened to rave reviews and struck a chord with the audience. What do you think worked in its favour?
Thank you so much! Tumbbad was high on novelty. People had not watched anything like that before. This is why it worked at the box office. We had initially thought that it was meant for a niche set of audience and that was reflected in its first week collections. Somebody had asked me if the fact that the film fared so well surprised me. My answer to that person was that we always knew that the film would perform well. Because of this, we had the drive to make the film over a period of six to seven years. It opened to a lukewarm response but eventually, it gained momentum. It performed well at the theatres and people showed it a lot of love even when it came on the OTT platform. The story was so unique, accessible and rooted to Indian culture and yet it was something so new. So we thought how come a film like this never got made? It was like a story our grandmothers would narrate to us.

Is there any update on Tumbbad 2?
We are still in the process of writing a story so that we can make a prequel or a sequel. We will definitely make Tumbbad 2. Even when we were making Tumbbad, we thought that we would create a franchise because that world is so interesting. There is a story that we are working on and I am hopeful that we will crack it very soon. Tumbbad is a good property but creative things take their own time. A story should come to you; you cannot and should not forcefully write a story.

How much confidence did the success of Tumbbad give you to take more risks?
A lot of it! We could make Tumbbad because of the immense love that Ship Of Theseus got. We were happy that a film as atrangi as Ship Of Theseus could reach out to so many people. India is a big country and there is an audience for all kinds of content. If you make a film with a lot of love and diligence, you can reach out to a wide audience. I believe that the success of Tumbbad will help me helm and be part of other interesting projects.

You recently acted in a short film called Gulabi Lens. What can you tell us about that? 
Saurabh (Gupta) has directed and produced the film and he will decide on its release. It has a very interesting storyline. It has a bit of romance and this is a genre I have never attempted before. It is about how life unfolds for two people once they get married. It is based on the lives of these two strangers who have an arranged marriage and it also deals with the initial awkwardness they encounter.

We recently saw you playing a pivotal part in the Netflix Original series, Bard Of Blood. It ends on a cliffhanger. Is there a season two on the cards?
I think so. People showered a lot of love on Bard Of Blood. I think there should be a season two. And when that happens, you will find answers to all the questions that are there in your mind and you will be able to tie all the loose ends. The best part is that there are multiple interpretations of the ending. The more the theories, the better it is. But I cannot say anything. (Chuckles)

How was it having big names like Shah Rukh Khan and Netflix backing you?
Jitne actors yahaan aate hain, woh sab Shah Rukh saab ke fans hote hain. They want to be like him. He is an idol to almost everyone. I did not meet him during the shoot but I have met him otherwise. Something happens to me when I see him. I get completely mesmerised every time I see him. He is God’s favourite child. Shah Rukh saab has a very unique aura. He was there with us during the premiere of Bard Of Blood and even then I realised that there is something very special about him. I have met many stars but he is different. He conducts himself so well. He takes such good care of people around him. Talking about Netflix, it is a very respectable platform and they reach out to the right kind of audience. That gives you a lot of reassurance. It was great working with Emraan (Hashmi) too. He is really cool and chilled out. He never lets you feel that you are working with a star of his stature. I was not there on the set for too long but whatever little interaction I had with him was great. 

What are your upcoming projects?
I have acted in a short film alongside Kirti Kulhari. It is directed by Pawan Kriplani and produced by Honey Trehan and Abhishek Chaubey. Apart from this, I am doing a film called The Big Bull with Abhishek Bachchan. I have a very interesting role in it. I am currently in Delhi shooting for it. I am also planning to produce something.

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