Salman Khan taught me dreams come true: Aayush Sharma

Actor talks about sharing screen space with his hero in Antim: The Last Fight


Ambica Sachin

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Published: Wed 24 Nov 2021, 7:40 PM

Last updated: Sat 27 Nov 2021, 5:46 PM

Way back in 2008, Aayush Sharma was in school in Delhi when a chance outing to a mall in Gurgaon along with his mother proved serendipitous. Noticing a huge crowd around a red carpet and barricades, Sharma upon enquiry found out that Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif were expected there for the promotion of their family drama Yuvraaj.

Being a huge fan of the actress, a young Aayush decided to stay put to catch a glimpse of his celluloid crush. “It was the most magical experience for me to see Salman walk in, in a white shirt and white hair band, with people screaming his name. I was mesmerised by this man that I even forgot about Katrina! There was total confusion and hysteria.”

But the best was yet to come. “As Salman was walking out, he looks at me and says, ‘what’s up?’ and I was like, did he just ask ME, what’s up? He saw ME out of the thousands of people crying and screaming his name and jumping on him.”

Looking back, Aayush is certain it was all part of his destiny since years later when he landed in Mumbai for his graduation, the first star he saw out on the streets was again none other than Salman Khan. But this time the 19-year-old mustered enough courage to go and ask the superstar for a picture which was duly posted on Facebook.

‘My life is like a movie’

From those heady days of an obsessed fan to sharing screen space with his hero in this week’s big ticket release Antim: The Final Truth, is the stuff of fairytales. “To come on this journey and be on the same poster with him, to be on the same frame as him... my life is almost like a movie,” Aayush tells us over a Zoom audio.

“When we had to perform in the same scene, I was thinking, did the boy from Delhi ever know he was going to be in the same frame as Salman Khan? That one day he will be acting opposite him! When Salman Khan said, ‘What’s up?’ to me, did he know that one day, I’d be his brother-in-law and that I’d be standing in front of him as his co-actor?”

Salman’s advice

Critics may point out that being part of a superstar’s family has only aided Aayush’s acting ambitions. But however privileged he may seem from the rest of the crowd, the burden on his shoulders is that much more heavier as well.

Aayush even tried to dissuade Salman Khan from signing him on for Antim, warning the superstar that people were already trolling him for promoting his family member.

And Khan’s reaction? “He (Salman) just looked at me and said, ‘I think you have something, and I want you to be in movies but you need proper training. Many people think they can come into Mumbai and become actors, but it doesn’t come easy; you have to really train yourself and you will be capable by the end of it.”

“I distinctly remember his words at that point; that I can only train you, and equip you to face the camera, but what the audience sees is what you do and what happens between the camera and you, has nothing to do with me.

“Just because I am there, it doesn’t make any difference to you or the audience. At the end of the day the audience only sees what is between you and the camera. Nothing else.’

“That’s how important Salman has been for me, from me dreaming of being an actor, to today being launched by him… for me, it is a dream run.”

‘Dreams come true’

The young father of two, who is married to Salman’s sister Arpita, laughs easily and is extremely self-aware — about his position within an industry where nepotism is a chargesheet indiscriminately thrown at any actor with even the slightest link to an established star or filmmaker. It may seem clichéd when we ask him the biggest takeaway from his close association with one of Bollywood’s most popular superstars; “That dreams come true”, but in his case, it is his reality.

For a movie buff, who dreamt of becoming a TV star, inspired by the hype surrounding series like Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Aayush has come a long way. It was while serving as an AD on the set of Bajrangi Bhaijaan that he realised he wanted to be part of movies to tell stories.”

‘I’m the hero of my story’

Aayush, who made his debut in 2018’s musical romance Loveyatri, went on a total transformation mode for Antim, seeking the help of Tiger Shroff’s trainer for the role of Rahuliya, a buffed up gangster who locks horn with the upright Sikh cop played by Salman Khan.

A remake of the Marathi film Mulshi Pattern (2018), the action-drama directed by Mahesh Manjrekar, has been bankrolled by Salman and his mother Salma Khan. “I knew that shifting my gears in my second film will be a tedious process but I genuinely felt that it is worth it.”

So he went on a drastic fitness regime, that saw him eating every two hours on a daily basis, everything from 24 boiled eggs to 400gms of chicken and 300gms of rice, every single day.

He says he had no qualms playing a baddie in his second film since his focus was to not get boxed in. “In my story I am the protagonist and in my head I am justified in what I am doing,” he points out. “So why should you hate me because in the story of my life, I am the hero, though Salman Khan is also there...”

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