Sharib Hashmi is the man who made Nitin Kakkar’s Filmistaan look like an ode to Hindi cinema. A cult-favourite now, Filmistaan won the National Film award for Best film and earned Sharib acclaim of a different kind.

Having then moved on to do films like Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Phullu, Sharib says he found his career calling very late in life. Speaking to Thestatesman.com about his web debut alongside Manoj Bajpayee in The Family Man, Hashmi gave glimpses into the journey he has had so far and what he thinks of ‘the magic of cinema as we know it’.

What role are you playing in the show?

I am playing JK Talpade’s character in the series who works along with Shreekant Tiwari( Manoj Bajpayee). I am his colleague, closest friend, well-wisher and his first wife as his wife keeps telling him, “Tumhari pehli patni toh JK hi hai.”( your first wife is JK) So, that is the kind of relationship we share. We work in TASC( Threat Analysis and Surveillance Cell). We try and predict terror attacks before they occur. So,that’s our job.

How has the jounery been so far after Filmistaan?

The journey has been a roller-coaster ride for me. Lots of ups-and-downs, and I have enjoyed both. I am very happy with whatever I have achieved and managed to do. Especially, films like Filmistaan, Phullu, Jab Tak Hai Jaan. I find myself very fortunate to have gotten these opportunities. Never in the wildest of my dreams, I had thought I would get a film like Filmistaan, and I would play the main lead. And, that it would go on to win the National Award for the Best Hindi Film. So, I feel I am a very fortunate actor.

… for me the struggle has been very difficult also. As I decided to choose acting as a profession very late in my life. I was married, I had a kid and a comfortable life. I was doing a job. I left everything and then decided to pursue acting full-time. So, I found my calling very late. That was the reason I had to struggle even harder. Because, starting from scratch at that age was little difficult for me. Many a times, I was completely broke, but somehow, I managed with the support of friends and family.

You have done satire and humour together and Raj & DK are known for it. How has the experience been?

When I got to know that Raj & DK are directing this, I was completely up for it. I love their kind of humour. They never force humour in their script, it happens so seamlessly that it looks like a part of the script. Even in adverse situations, they bring out humour in such a way that it doesn’t even look jarring; it brings a smile on your face and at the same time, you’re not deviating from the main plot. So, working with them has been a great experience. They have given so much freedom to actors.

Most of my scenes are with Manoj ( Bajpayee) Sir. So, whenever we were doing are scenes, once the dialogues were over, they never said “cut”. We would go on and on and on, keep improvising till the time they say “cut”.

I would love to work with them again and again.

What was it like working with Manoj Bajpayee?

It was a learning experience for me as an actor.Working with him was like going to an institute, . He is a brilliant co-actor to have because he makes the other person very comfortable. Never for a moment, he makes you feel like “I am Manoj Bajpayee, so control”. He never does that. Everybody knows how great and brilliant an actor he is, but as a person he is such a great human being.

Nitin Kakkar ( Filmistaan, Notebook director) and you have worked together a lot. Any other future project along the lines?

Nitin is a very old friend of mine. We assisted the same director. I know him since 1999 or 2000 types. We ‘gelled’ really well and the reason for our bond was films. Every weekend, we used to spend watching movies from all across the world, foreign films-Spanish, Iranian, French and Hindi films. Then, we started nursing a desire to make our own films. And, finally our dream came true with Filmistaan. We also made one more film, Ramsingh Charlie, which we produced with out own hard-earned money and wrote together, and Nitin directed it. But, it is still to find a release, so we are still struggling to get it released.

I hope it happens soon.

We collaborated on two more films. One was Mitron, I wrote dialogues for it and for Notebook. The last film he did was Jawani Jaaneman. That is the only film where I am not involved. I am sad about it because working with him is not like ‘work’. It’s partying.

Does the magic of cinema get affected by the digital medium, given the current scenario?

My first love will always remain movies, cinema. I am a film buff. I can watch a movie standing outside any window,and finish it there. I don’t think the magic of movies will die, it is going to remain. Both can co-exist together because a ‘cinema-experience’ is something else. To go to a movie hall, and sit with 200 people who are strangers to you, yet, to  laugh, cry, and applaud together. Nothing can match the magic of going to a cinema and watching a film there.

Web series, digital medium is a boon for us, actors, actually. We are getting a lot more opportunities for every creative person. We are getting so many avenues to do things we could not do in movies earlier. I am glad to be making a foray into the digital world with a series like The Family Man. I am happy with the way my role has shaped up and am so looking forward to what the audience response is going to be. We all have worked very hard on it, “jo janta janadhar bolegi, voh sarakhon par.”

Whatever the outcome may be, I will always be proud that my first web series was The Family Man and that I was part of it.