‘I came here after watching ‘DDLJ’ and ‘Hum’ and ended up making ‘Ship Of Theseus’ and ‘Tumbbad’, it’s destiny’: Sohum Shah – Exclusive | Hindi Movie News – Times of India

Sohum Shah is getting a lot of love for his recent performance in ‘Dahaad‘, also starring Sonakshi Sinha and Vijay Varma. The ‘Ship Of Theseus’ actor has come a long way from a small town in Rajasthan to now being confident enough to stick to his choices. In an all-heart conversation with ETimes, Sohum talks about his journey where his mental health went for a toss, and how he survived all through the pressure, and why it is not easy for him to get more work even now.

How do you feel about the positive feedback that you’re getting for your recent performance in ‘Dahaad’?

When you do something with a lot of hard work, it’s like giving an exam. You feel good when you go through an exam and get good marks. It feels good when I get validation, especially for something which I’ve done differently. It was a meaty character for me and not anything I’ve done before. My look in ‘Dahaad’ is so different from my look in ‘Tumbbad‘ or ‘Ship Of Theseus’. When people wonder if it’s the same person in all these different projects, I feel validated as an actor, that what I’m trying to do as an actor is reaching the people.

So are you chasing the tag of a ‘chameleon’ with characters so varied, also in terms of how they look?

I want to achieve this tag of a chameleon because it gets boring to do just one thing. It’s interesting for me to see actors completely transform themselves for a character, like Kamal Haasan or Ranveer Singh. If you see Ranveer, he’s so different in ’83’ and then ‘Jayeshbhai Jordaar’, I love to watch such actors. It’s also important to do justice to the character. For instance, I was shooting for ‘Maharani‘ and ‘Dahaad’ at one time and then the lockdown happened. During Covid, all of us were at home relaxing and eating food made by our mother, so I put on some weight. That worked for ‘Maharani’. But I also had to shoot for ‘Dahaad’. I sent my images to Reema Kagti who asked me to lose some weight. I went on a diet and worked hard for 20-25 days and lost weight. For Bheema in ‘Maharani’, I needed that weight since he plays a politician but then in ‘Dahaad’ I was a police officer. So, it’s a lot of hard work. But that’s the fun of it.

But isn’t it really problematic to get out of that zone especially if it’s a dark space like ‘Tumbbad’?

It’s more problematic for people around you when you transform yourself for a character. When I was shooting Tumbbad, the film was so dark that my wife was a little worried. It took a lot of time to come out of that zone.

oes that ever work against you that you’re so different in every project that the audience can’t find relatability? For instance, for big superstars like Shah Rukh Khan, the audience relates to a certain signature style in them which they want to see in every film.

It’s a very nice question and I completely understand where it’s coming from. I do understand that the mainstream route is to show one thing again and again and that gets registered among the audience and becomes your brand. I feel destiny plays a huge role in what you end up doing, because I came here after watching ‘DDLJ‘ and ‘Hum’ and ended up making ‘Ship Of Theseus’ and ‘Tumbbad’. My experience of life is that I’ve only watched 4 English movies, I didn’t know any Hollywood actors. But I’ve grown up watching ‘DDLJ’, ‘Hum’ and all these mainstream song and dance films. So, it was never planned for me and it’s just destiny that I said yes to the kind of projects I did. The characters I’ve played are so niche and specific. I feel that the most relatable, accessible character of my life is Kailash Parghi in ‘Dahaad’. People say, ‘Sohum is a good actor but where do we fit him?’ So, I don’t get work easily. It works against me. But, when you keep doing something, you get addicted to it. So, now I’m addicted to nuanced characters and doing such different roles! Now I feel, this works for me. It’s a longer route but I’m liking it.

Coming from a small town like Ganganagar to making a career in Mumbai – how has it been?

I feel it’s a delicious journey. I came from a small town where you’ve not done any theatre, any training. It was just some passion to do it. I came from a town where you feel Mumbai is so far and people have these preconceived notions. From that day to now where I actually have a house in Mumbai and I’ve worked with the best of people – what more could I have asked for? I feel quite content. The journey is also painful. There comes a time when you feel suffocated. There was a long time when I felt I would run away.

When was that time when you felt like giving up?

Before ‘Tumbbad’. Because for me, acting was not the only thing I could do. I knew business. So, for many years initially, I used to feel that I should move back to my hometown in Ganganagar. I had also run away from Mumbai and gone to Jaipur for some time, because there’s a lot of pressure here on language and culture. I didn’t know much English and here most people used to communicate in English. I felt like if I don’t know English, I don’t know anything. So, I had such low self-esteem, despite the fact that I had made a whole township with my business. All this is in your head, nobody else is putting any pressure on you. But slowly when you get some success and validation and keep going higher, you feel (it).

So, do you now feel a sense of higher self-esteem and better mental health?

I see a lot of change in me. It’s a middle state now where I feel content and peaceful. People have struggled a lot in Mumbai where they didn’t have money to eat or pay rent. But I had my share of struggle, which was a mental struggle. Thankfully, I always had food at my table. I wasn’t that courageous to come here in my twenties and be okay with staying on the footpath and having ‘vada pav’. I made a safety net in my life with business and then I came here to become an actor. I knew I had a back-up, hence, money wasn’t a problem for me, but despite that, I’ve struggled a lot and dealt with pain mentally. My mental health has remained bad for a really long time. You feel like people around you, working for you are living a better life but thankfully, today, I’m at a much better stage.

How important do you feel it is to take care of your mental health?

Mental health is very important because that affects your work too. In today’s day and age, because of social media, we have so much pressure – to hold yourself with peace and dignity becomes so tough. You have to work on it because it’s a part of your profession. You have to find your peace within the chaos.

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