From a gym instructor to the big-screen actor, Sharad Kelkar has come a long way in his career. Kelkar has not only marked his presence in the industry with his versatile acting styles but also with his voice, as he gave the voiceover for the lead character in SS Rajamouli’s blockbuster Bahubali 2.

Even though it was the first dubbing project for Sharad, he left everyone spellbound by his performance.

Sharad has always been a passionate and challenge-taking actor who believes in trying different projects which come through his way.

After marking success in Zee 5’s flagship Rangbaaz Phir Se, in which he played the character of an illegal liquor trader in Rajasthan with amazing ease, Sharad is looking ahead for the release of his mega-project with Ajay Devgn, Saif Ali Khan, and  Kajol, Tanhaji.

‘Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior’ is the story of Maratha warrior Tanhaji Malusare, played by Ajay Devgn, which is scheduled to release on January 10, 2020. Ajay Devgn, Saif Ali Khan, Kajol, Sharad Kelkar, and Neha Sharma are in the lead roles in the movie.

In an exclusive interview to The Statesman, Sharad shared his experience of playing the character of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, and of working with Director Om Raut.

How hard was it to fit into the skin of Maratha leader Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj?

I was very excited when I got the project. Yes, it was a challenging role for me but Director Om Raut had really made me comfortable during the shoot.

He researched the story for 3 years which really helped not only me, but my fellow actors as well in the movie to understand our parts. He took care of everything ranging from the look, costumes, and narration which helped me to perform with confidence.

Om Raut put me in the zone of the character which helped to play the crucial role easily.

How was your experience of working with three veteran actors in the project?

I have already worked with Saif and Ajay and I must say that the experience every time, when I work with them, is outstanding. Saif, Ajay, and Kajol were very helpful and they always give a comfort zone to their fellow actors.

They were always ready to address their fellow actors’ queries on the set which really made working with them a pleasant experience.

What are the takeaways from the character?

The role of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj came with a great sense of responsibility as you are playing the role of an iconic Maratha ruler and warrior. Being born in a Marathi family, I was attached to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj since my childhood.

The key takeaway for me from the role was to be good with the people and do good to the people, the principle which Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj always followed. I will also keep this with me throughout my life and will suggest that everyone adopt it in their lives.

A soft person in ‘Family Man’ or the rough character in ‘Rangbaaz Phir Se’, which was your favourite?

As being an actor I have to play the role of every character I get, hence choosing a favourite would be an injustice with other characters.

I take up only those characters which I like. It is very important for me to like the character before playing it on the screen.