Anant Vidhaat, who plays none other than Salman Khan’s best friend in Sultan, on being the superstar’s shadow in the film and his fanboy moments in the initial days of shoot
I was born and brought up in Delhi and the stage always held a certain fascination for me since I was a child. I took an active part in theatre while growing up, and when the time came to choose a career, I told my parents I wanted to act. They supported me and I enrolled with the National School of Drama’s Theatre In Education course. That’s where my journey as a professional artiste began. I also have a Master’s degree in acting.
In 2011, I moved to Mumbai and started looking for work, and in 2012, I bagged my first film, Gunday. The movie was directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, whom I had known since college, where he was a senior. Since he knew I was in Mumbai, he called me to audition. That’s how I landed my first film. Then I did Mardaani and then Sultan happened.
I was asked to audition for the role, which the team liked. Ali was very clear that he didn’t want those typical friends of the hero, the kind we usually see in Hindi cinema. He had a role that was very important in Sultan’s life, a friend who while supporting Sultan also takes his own stand. So, for instance, it is my character who tells the story to Amit Sadh. There’s the line, ‘Daadi guzar gayi, phir abba bhi…’ So my character took his own stand when he watched his friend go wrong but he also stood by him throughout.
There were no workshops for the film. Ali was clear about his characters and he had narrated his vision to each one of us his. After that, as an actor, it is my responsibility to improvise on the character. So there was some improvisation on the sets, like with some of the lines, or the way we did the scene. It was great that Ali was open to improvisation and he accepted our suggestions.
Playing a friend didn’t need much prep but the dialect demanded a certain lehza. Thankfully, since I had grown up in Delhi, I had closely observed people from Haryana and Punjab and I knew the language. So I am familiar with the way, say, a bus conductor or a college student speaks and what the conversation between two people sounds like. Those experiences helped me understand the character. Another important factor is to speak Haryanvi or any other North Indian language, one should be fully conversant in Hindi.
Working With Salman Khan
Initially, I was nervous as well as excited as I was going to work with Salman Khan. I have done only two films so far, and this film offered me a lot of screen space with him. The initial shoot days were my fan days, when I was in awe of him. Since he is extremely down-to-earth, he began to seem like anybody else after working with him and getting to know him. Ali too made it very comfortable for us but there was a lot to learn from Salman too. After all, he is the superstar.
The compliments I have received are overwhelming. Every review mentions my name and it feels great. After all the hard work we put in, it paid off. There are so many messages on social media, it is very overwhelming.