priyaank sharma

Priyaank Sharma is set to release his first film “Sab Kushal Mangal.” (photo provided)

MUMBAI — The son of Padmini Kolhapure-Sharma and producer Tutu Sharma, cousin to Shraddha and Siddhant Kapoor, and nephew to Shakti Kapoor and Shivangi Kolhapure-Kapoor is raring to go. But Priyaank Sharma, set to release his first film “Sab Kushal Mangal” when we meet, confesses, “The excitement and nervousness have merged. It’s like the feeling that comes before a roller coaster. My first film, promotions and interviews: they are all milestones!”

Always inclined towards acting, Priyaank was a part of his school dramatics group before he went to Lee Strasberg Institute, in which he did a minor in acting and majored in film-making. He then went to assist Rajkumar Santoshi, whom he addresses as “Raj-ji,” on script and direction in “Phata Poster Nikkla Hero” (incidentally featuring mom Padmini as hero Shahid Kapoor’s mother). “I also did a couple of plays with Salim Arif, and workshops with Prashant Singh, Neeraj Kabi and Nadira Babbar,” he says.

Asked whether he was a part of any of his mother’s work in “Phata Poster…,”  he says, “I was not involved in any scene featuring my mother, but one day, when we were waiting for Shahid, Raj-ji told me to do a scene with Saurabh- (Shukla) sir and some junior artistes playing goons since he knew I wanted to be actor. That was the first time I faced the camera!”

How did he approach acting and cinema after all these varied influences? “It was all very natural and organic,” he replies. “Everyone has something unique, though the broad base remains the same. So the techniques are different. But it was great to fall back on all those practical influences.”

His director here, Karan Vishwanath Kashyap, made sure that the workshops were completely different from the actual shooting. He wanted the actor to enact a confident yet vulnerable, street-smart yet innocent small-town boy who is a news anchor in Delhi. “For three months, I had to keep my collar up, and during the shoot, he told me to keep it normal but metaphorically raise the collar of my brain!” smiles Priyaank. “This was his shock element.”

So what has he picked up from Akshaye Khanna, Shahid Kapoor and his own family? “We never have conversations on work at home or in my aunt’s place. They all have just told me that I have to be myself, find my own way, be natural and spontaneous, and have fun,” says Priyaank. “I have been a great fan of Akshaye-sir, and he was an amazing actor who made me very comfortable.”

About Shahid, he goes on, “Shahid is so good at how he works on a role and Raj-ji is an actor’s director, he acts out everything. I had long discussions with both.”

Co-star Riva Kishan was someone with a “very similar upbringing and mindset. We were both kept away from films despite our film families, to keep our values and studies in place. Both of us were connected on these common points, and the workshops helped even more. She also motivated me sometimes.”

Priyaank also wants to “definitely direct one day, but he has to have time and develop complete confidence in that.”

And, as a cliché, which is his favorite among his mom’ films? “They disturbed me as a kid, as my mother was either crying, or running away from goons, or something like that!” he admits. “I understood only later what those performances were all about. And my favorites are “Prem Rog,” “Woh 7 Din,” “Pyar Jhukta Nahin” and “Aisa Pyar Kahan.””

The last film was produced by his father, and that’s how they fell in love. Is that the reason for his choice, we ask. “Of course!” he laughs. “It will always be special!”

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