Talented Mr Kelkar: The Family Man actor talks about ‘Lonavala secret’ and upcoming projects
From carving a niche on television with roles in Bairi Piya and Kuch Toh Log Kahenge, Sharad Kelkar transitioned to the big screen with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Goliyon Ki Raasleela: Ram-Leela.
Sharad Kelkar has a thing for cliff-hangers. Earlier he left the audience guessing “why did Kattappa kill Baahubali?” in Baahubali 1 (he was ‘Baahubali’ Prabhas’s voice in the epic series). Now his fans are wondering “what happened in Lonavala?” as The Family Man Season 2 (where he plays Arvind who is in love with Priyamani’s character, Suchitra) draws to a close without clearing the air about the Lonavala visit of Arvind and Suchitra in Season 1. Question Kelkar and he is mum.
“Maybe Season 3 will reveal the secret,” he says mischievously. Season 2 of The Family Man actually disappointed his fans as they believed the actor got a raw deal with hardly any screen time. Kelkar is not perturbed, “It’s up to the makers and how they want to explore the plotline.”
From carving a niche on television with roles in Bairi Piya (2010) and Kuch Toh Log Kahenge (2012), he transitioned to the big screen with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Goliyon Ki Raasleela: Ram-Leela in 2013. Though it was a big break, playing a supporting role—with negative shades, to boot—quickly got him typecast in Bollywood. “This is the bane of our industry. Filmmakers are not keen to take risks. They like to cast people they have seen earlier in a particular role. And I don’t really blame them. With the amount of money riding on each film, cautiousness is part of the game,” says the actor.
Thankfully for him, two films in 2020 presented him with a chance to prove his acting chops—Tanhaji, in which he played Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj; and Laxmii, where he bravely decided to portray a transgender. “When these films came to me, I knew I had to accept them. Completely different from each other, they offered me the chance to prove that I was more than just brawn,” he says.
While playing the Maratha king brought its own burden of adhering to the nuances of a period character, it was Laxmii that actually brought out the actor in him. Playing a transgender who has been wronged and killed, and then returns to haunt the perpetrators, Kelkar had hardly 15 minutes in the film. But it was enough for him to prove that he was an actor worth putting your money on. Wasn’t he worried about taking on such a role? “Not really. When Akshay Kumar (who headlined the film) recommended me for the project, I just went for it. I knew this character would leave its mark,” he says.
The actor, who has also been a part of Marathi and Telugu cinema, is now looking forward to his Tamil debut, Ayalaan, besides his first major role in a solo-actor project, Déja vu. So what is it about the film industry that keeps him going? “It’s not as bad as it is made out to be. Also, if two things aren’t going according to you, why fret? Focus on the remaining 98 things that are,” says the actor.
As the interview comes to an end, in a rare candid moment, Kelkar says, “You know, I used to suffer from stammering. I was mercilessly bullied as a child for it. But look at me now; I’m in a profession that requires me to use my speech skills.” And you realise that here is an actor who believes in himself and is not bogged down by critics.