He played a small but key role on Amanat, one of the most popular Hindi television programmes in late ’90s, which was followed by Zee TV serial Woh in 1998 where he enacted the younger version of Ashutosh Gowarikar, and got further fame from Marathi serial Damini which was broadcast on DD Sahyadri.
But, the real buzz that made Shreyas Talpade a household name was Iqbal. An aurally-challenged young man with grit and determination from a remote Indian village, aspiring to become a cricketer; the title character got him recognised in every corner while making him bag the ‘Zee Cine Critics Award’ for best actor in 2006.
Taking a look down the memory lane, the 43-year-old actor recalls his dream debut and the journey since…
Flashback of Iqbal
“I was doing a Marathi serial and it was a routine to play cricket on sets. That was the time Nagesh Kukunoor was looking for an actor who could play cricket or a cricketer who could act. And, luckily, Yatin Karyekar, who played my father in the film, asked a friend of mine ‘if he knows anyone who can fit into this criterion’. He suggested my name. I went and auditioned for the part, got shortlisted and, finally, bagged the role,” shares the actor, who did not just audition to prove his acting skills but had to give more auditions for his bowling action to see if he had the right length and pace.
“Nagesh asked me to fly to Hyderabad, where the training session followed, to practise for my role. But, at the same time, my marriage was fixed. On December 31, I married Deepti and the very next day I reached Hyderabad to get started with the shoot. The journey was a roller coaster but all the efforts paid off,” remembers Shreyas, who received love from the audience and got noticed by the critics too.
Jab Shreyas met Deepti
Recalling his love story, he narrates how he met Deepti, who is a psychiatrist by profession and also helps him with his production house. “In 2000, I was invited to a college festival and Deepti was the general secretary of the college. It was love at first sight for me. I completely fell in love with her and proposed on the fourth day after we met. She took a couple of years to say yes. But, finally, in 2004, we got married,” recollects Shreyas who became a father last May.
Work and family
Talking on how he maintains balance between his professional and personal life, he explains, “Honestly, there is no balance that one can maintain. I just make sure when I’m at shoot, work is my priority and when I’m with my family, they are my focus. I try to keep my cell phones away so that I spend time with my wife and daughter without getting diverted. But, there are times, when I am travelling or shooting for long hours, it gets difficult. I think, at the end of the day, it’s all worth to secure the future of your family.”
How was he as a kid? Shreyas tells, “I was an average kid, a decent student and was okay in sports too but not great in cricket. So, I started taking net practices under the guidance of Ramakant Achrekar sir, who was also the coach of Sachin Tendulkar. In six months, I improved my game. But, then, theatre happened and I realised this is what I want to do.”
As he comes from a non-filmy family, convincing his parents wasn’t that smooth. “My father was okay but my mother had insecurity about the profession like how am I going to survive as I had no contacts. So, she ensured that I finish my graduation and only then pursue my passion.”
Exploring different genres
Shreyas starred in Dor, Apna Sapna Money Money, Welcome to Sajjanpur, Om Shanti Om, among other films but got best known as Laxman Prasad in Golmaal series after Iqbal. “I have always enjoyed working with Golmaal gang. They are phenomenal actors. On sets, we would just go on a laughing spree. And, of course, some of the best shooting experiences I’ve had were on the sets of Golmaal. Rohit Shetty inspires me. The way he works is something one really needs to learn. In spite of getting so many blockbusters, he pushes himself more, works harder and makes sure the next film is more successful.”
When asked ‘why is he not seen much in Bollywood now?’, he says, “Rather than doing anything and everything, I would prefer to wait and do certain roles which really challenge me. I don’t want to limit myself to a specific genre. Also, comedy is something I would love to continue with. For example, if there’s another Golmaal, I would definitely want to be a part of it.”
Commenting on his experience of playing a negative role for the first time for the film Setters, Shreyas sounds excited. “I was pleasantly surprised. As an actor, you want to play different parts, want to explore different characters. So, when this one was offered, I was surprised. I really want to thank Ashwini ji (Ashiwini Chaudhary) for having faith and challenging me to play the anti-hero. It was something new that I got to try and, luckily, the kind of response people are giving and the way it is appreciated by critics, I feel the direction I took in terms of portraying the part was the right one,” he concludes.