Bringing back the cultural heritage on screen: Yashpal Sharma

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Mumbai: The Bombay Tribune’s bureau chief Akansha Saini had a special conversation with actor Yashpal Sharma, who is best known for his memorable performances in films like Lagaan, Gangaajal, Rowdy Rathore and Singh is King.Here are some excerpts from the conversation.

Yashpal Sharma
Yashpal Sharma performing in a scene of  Dada Lakhmi Film | Image: BT

When did you decide that you want to become an actor? When did you start as a film actor and theatre artist? what got you started?

I was born and brought up in a lower-middle-class family in Hisar in the state of Haryana. Since childhood, I was interested in acting and wanted to work for children’s theatre in Haryana and used to watch and had been greatly influenced by Tamas, discovery, and Malgudi days. I got to know about the National School of Drama, and graduated from there, those were the golden days of my life. My first big break was Govind Nihlani’s film, Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa (1998), which gave me a chance to act alongside Jaya Bachchan and Nandita Das. And after that started appearing in commercial films, like Shool and Arjun Pandit. However, it was the Academy Award-nominated Lagaan (2001) that brought me to the limelight, and thereafter I appeared in Gangajal (2003) and Ab Tak Chhappan, and many more.

Yashpal Sharma
Yashpal Sharma sharing the joy of completing 21 years of “Lagaan” |Image: FB

As you are best known for your impactful acting in notable movies like Lagaan, Gangaajal to Singh is King, what do you think about how cinema has changed since then?

OTT platforms provide flexibility and convenience. Earlier people, who lived in remote areas do not have theatres nearby, going to theatres was difficult due to disability or restrictions. OTT platforms are inclusive and enable everyone to watch the content from home easily nowadays and somehow it increased the possibilities for youth. However, there is still a need to create something unique and people are doing a marvellous job.

Yashpal Sharma
Yashpal Sharma on the set of Kapil Sharma’s Show| Image: FB

What would you like to say about your upcoming film “ Dada Lakhmi “? and why you have chosen to make it?
This is a musical film based on the folk artist of Haryana named Dada lakhmi. I think these people played a significant role in preserving cultural heritage and I would like to bring it to the mass audience. It is already been recognized by many film festivals till now, and many more to come. Privileged by outstanding music by Uttam Singh, an Indian music director, and a well-known violinist. And special attention is given to the technical team, who worked meticulously to bring this work as a whole and I hope it will be in the theatre on the 1st of November which is Haryana day for the public domain.

What message would you like to give to the young filmmakers and actors?
Nepotism has been prominent in Bollywood, but I believe in equal opportunity should be given to people based on talent. The work should be based on societal cause, not to show off anybody. No one should get used in this profession, instead, believe in yourself and your capabilities and that there is no one like you in the whole world. And the only thing that can keep you going on this way is Practice, practice, and practice.


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