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Nihaar Pandya: Hopefully after MANIKARNIKA I will be more than Deepika Padukone’s ex

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Nihaar Pandya (Pic Credit- Avinash Gowariker) Nihaar Pandya (Pic Credit- Avinash Gowariker)
Nihaar Pandya (Pic Credit- Avinash Gowariker)

Nihaar Pandya is all set to mark his Bollywood debut with Kangana Ranaut starrer MANIKARNIKA. The new comer will be essaying the role of Baji Rao II in this historical period drama. In an exclusive conversation with Glamsham the actor spoke about how he bagged this film and what all preparation went behind playing the role of Baji Rao II. Besides, Nihaar also opened up about why being referred as Deepika Padukone’s ex doesn’t bother him much. Read on..

First of all congratulations that you are making your debut with MANIKARNIKA. Tell us how did you bag this film?
I auditioned for my part and after being shortlisted for it, the makers made me do a session of fight sequence and horse riding. So all these things were taken into account before shortlisting me for the role of Baji Rao II.

Now that you have worked with Queen Kangana, tell us how is she as a co-star?
For my first film I can say that she was thoroughly professional. I had a good experience working with her in this film. She was open to improvisation on set which was very helpful for me.

Did she give you any inputs or did you guys discuss scenes before shooting?
Discussion for the scenes didn’t happen prior to the scene but if in a scene I improvised then there was no apprehension or any restrictions like to stick to what was told to by her or any other senior actors like Atul Kulkarniji. The co-stars were more than welcoming for a new comer like me to do what he wants to do.

Tell us about the preparation that went behind playing the character of Baji Rao II.
Basically it’s the journey of Prince to becoming a King and then a warrior so there were many changes that were required to be Baji Rao II. The sword fighting and the horse riding sessions were quite strenuous as we didn’t use any stunt doubles. The training session was also very grueling and we rehearsed a lot before filming the scenes.

Did you read any book based on Rani Laxmi Bai?
I did gather quite information on Jhansi Ki Rani and how she happened to be part of Marathwada and then how did she got married to the Maharaja of Jhansi and then how she became Laxmi Bai obviously she had a phenomenal journey. I also read about her relation in terms to Tatya Tope and Baji Rao II and also about how them being instrumental in revolt of 1857 and fighting for one India. She was one of the greatest warriors India has ever witnessed. And I think that our film is coming out very well. One of the Colonel departing from India at the time of revolt had said ‘The man amongst men- Rani of Jhansi’ so you see that was the image she left in the heads of the British.

How was the experience of working on a historical film that marks your debut? Was it difficult?
For me because it was my first film and as I was raring to go I had a fabulous time. To be working with so many stalwarts in your debut film was an honor. I couldn’t have asked for anything bigger.

How was the experience of working with other terrific actors like Atul Kulkarni and Sonu Sood?
Phenomenal, they are more than just supporting. For me as a new comer I am grateful to be working with Atulji he is fabulous not only in the terms of giving ideas but also in terms of making last minute changes based on the changes made by the other person. He reciprocates to the improvisation you have done he would be like ‘Arre yeh acha tha kuch alag tha” and then he would pick it up from there. Being a senior person he would give plenty of ideas to do things and would be open to changes. And he did help us build a certain perception or view to that particular scene or dialogue. And of course the director Krish has been more than welcoming with these ideas.

So Krish is an easy going person and not a taskmaster?
He for sure knows what he wants so he will make sure he gets what he wants. But he is open to taking other people’s suggestion and what you have done is what he likes then he will walk up to you and say I like this better than what I had thought. So for a fresher like me it was a dream come true to work with such an amazing people.

There was an incident where you ended up hurting Kangana while shooting for a sequence so can you share with us how exactly that happened?
We practiced for that scene for more than hundred times but on the day of the shoot there was a little geographical change on the sets so there was a height change involved in the choreography of the fight and obviously we weren’t using stunt doubles plus we were using aluminum swords so it was a timing issue whereby my sword was going from my shoulder height and she( Kangana) had to duck it but due to the timing issue I ended up striking her but I am happy about the professionalism she has shown to take me through it instead of letting me get bogged down or feeling apologetic, not that it was my fault but she said that its okay such things happen don’t listen to anyone you just carry on.

Were you scared after that incident as your sword hit on her face?
Not scared but yeah I was bit more alert. Earlier if I had to stop the sword two inches away from her face later I stopped it four inches away from her face. (smiles)

How was the environment on the sets, was it all serious or did you guys have fun too?
Yeah we did have a lot of fun off screen of course and also as we traveled to different places in order to shoot for the film we did try different specialties of various parts of the country and we did have many light hearted moments. So yeah we did have lot of fun.

You were seen in Himesh Reshammiya’s music video way back in 2008 so what took you so long to mark your debut into films?
Actually I was about to do something five years back but then it didn’t go down too well as by the time the film was shot it was not the film that I was spoken to about. But I am glad that now I am doing a substantial role and making my debut with MANIKARNIKA. I am looking forward to do more such character driven roles.

In one of your previous interview you had said that you are not bogged down when people call you Deepika Padukone’s ex. Please elaborate
I wish it was in my hand but I am hoping that people’s perception changes towards me in this regard after they watch my film as people have this perception of judging the book from the cover before actually reading it. So these are things that all of us do but I am quite sure that this movie will change people’s perception and hopefully it won’t take more than a film to change people’s mindset and if it doesn’t then I will work harder the next time.

So are you guys still in touch?
We are lot more cordial than we are made to sound (laughs) It is a cordial relationship. It’s not that we hang together every day it’s a story that happened long back but unfortunately people still hang on to it.

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