Bollywood actor Tahir Raj Bhasin scores a hattrick of romance in new films

2022 is his blockbuster year, where audiences will see him in three different scenarios as a leading man



By Kaveree Bamzai

Published: Thu 13 Jan 2022, 7:38 PM

Sometimes it takes 10 years to become an overnight success.

Tahir Raj Bhasin knows all about it.

Beginning with a few small parts, including an uncredited appearance as a young cricketer in Kai Po Che! (2013), he stunned audiences as the embodiment of evil in Mardaani (2014) with Rani Mukerji.

Excellent in everything he's been in, especially as the actor Shyam in Nandita Das's Manto (2018), 2022 is finally his blockbuster year, where audiences will see him in three different scenarios as a leading man.

"These are happy problems," says Bhasin, 35, of the back-to-back releases: two streaming series, Ranjish Hi Sahi (Zee5) and Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhen (Netflix), and the much-awaited remake of the German thriller Run, Lola RunLooop Lapeta.

An awesome start to 2022

"I couldn't have asked for a better start to the year," he says, having shot right through 2020, in between lockdowns, night curfews, PPE kits, bio-bubbles, and RT-PCR tests. Delays due to Covid-19 affected post-production schedules as well, testing the patience and perseverance of actors and filmmakers.

The past two years have taught Bhasin patience. "You cannot plan anything too ahead of time," he says, adding "you have to take it one week at a time whether it is shoots or releases.”

But with that patience also comes gratitude.

Experiences matter

Not just for the roles but also for the experiences.

Bhasin says a lot of people asked him why he did a "festival film" such as Manto, but the thought of spending two months with Nawazuddin Siddiqui while playing his best friend, the actor Shyam, was too tempting. Walking the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival with Manto was an experience he will always treasure. As he will have the experience of playing Sunil Gavaskar in the brilliant ensemble cast of Kabir Khan's 83, not in the least because he got to spend time with Pankaj Tripathi, who played cricket manager PR Man Singh on that historic tour.

Bhasin is the son of an Indian Air Force (IAF) officer and has lived all over the country, including Allahabad and Gwalior (which gave him an understanding of the intimacy and lack of privacy of a small town in Yeh Kaali Kaali Aankhen).

He studied at Hindu College in Delhi University and at the University of Melbourne, and worked as a cub reporter at NDTV as well.

Mumbai, his stomping ground

But it is in Bollywood and Mumbai that he found fame. And it seems at the right time, with the right mindset. He quotes Siddiqui telling him: Charchit hone aur yaadgaar hone main bahut farak hai (There's a big difference in being talked about and in being remembered)."

He lives by that moral aphorism especially in an age where being publicly visible is more important than doing good work.

He's a great user of social media for his work but doesn't feel it necessary to post updates on what he's eaten for breakfast or the number of push-ups he'd done. He has a small WhatsApp group of five friends where he shares more personal information and doesn't confuse his Instagram with his WhatsApp — unlike several celebrities.

Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhen

Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhen required him to look 25 and lose 10 kilograms, which he had gained to play Gavaskar. "It's the very first time I was playing a non-urban character which was a challenge," he says.

As for the diction, he watched a lot of movies based in that area including Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), and spent a lot of time talking to Tripathi on the sets of 83.

In Yeh Kaali Kaali Aankhen, Bhasin is Vikrant, who is the object of affection of a young woman who happens to be the daughter of a powerful politician.

It's a role where he gets to wear his heart on his sleeve, and show his dimples too. He quickly clarifies that he is in actuality "very soft and romantic" and it puzzles him when people who meet him for the first time are somewhat wary of him — the power of a good performance in Mardaani, clearly.

The SRK fan

Bhasin is an ardent fan of Shah Rukh Khan, as is any Delhi boy who has chosen to act in Bollywood, and he is quick to add that his admiration goes beyond that.

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"For me, he is the brand of a man who will go against all odds to make it," he says. In Ranjish Hi Sahi, he plays a character based on director-producer Mahesh Bhatt, while in Looop Lapeta, he is what he calls a "jholer", someone who will always take a shortcut in life.

The range he has shown should put him right up there as a contender for leading men to watch out for.

And not a moment too soon.

(The author is a senior journalist and author, most recently of The Three Khans and the Emergence of New India)


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