Child at Heart - Sharad Kelkar

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Tall, dark and devilishly handsome, Sharad Kelkar cannot be written off as just another face on television. He looks somber and his deep baritone voice means business yet three minutes into our conversation and Sharad pulls a prank on me! He chuckles gleefully while I come to terms with the fact that the very stern and mature ‘Dr Ashutosh’ is not without a sense of humor! My conversation with Sharad is full of revelations, life may have been kind to him but in retrospect he has faced his share of trials. A ‘working actor’, Sharad is happy to take on all kinds of roles and refuses to get caught in the ‘leading man’ charade. Slowly but surely he has evolved and you cannot ignore his understated yet powerful presence - be it the perfect supportive husband Nahar or the obsessive Grey shaded Thakur Digvijay Singh. Subtle and impactful, Tinsel Gupshup brings you the complete child at heart – Sharad Kelkar…



TG: The journey started with Grassim…

SK: Yep! I was finishing my MBA when I decided to go for Grassim. Honestly speaking, I had not even thought about acting at that point. I finished my MBA, came to Mumbai and decided to give modeling a shot. Within the first couple of months, I had bagged some good modeling assignments and obviously the money was really good. I was also doing TV commercials and that was my first taste of acting…well…sort of. A lot of people feel that I must have been a ramp model but I only did ramp for a few months. Within a span of 2 years I had done about 30 to 35 commercials. So, yes…the journey did begin with Grassim…



TG: Though you had established yourself as a model, did you have to struggle to get into television?

SK: No journey is complete without struggle. There was a period of about 8 or 9 months when I was not getting any offers, any work. That was an extremely difficult time for me. I was living in Mumbai and I had no source of income at all. I lost my father a long time back and my mother has been the pillar of the family. She was my support system during those months and she would help me out to her best capacity. If it was not for my mom and my family, I don’t know how I would have survived those 9 months. Fortunately, I started getting some offers for acting soon after. I did one show for Balaji and believe it or not, within one month I was replaced…



TG: Wait! You were replaced within a month? Why?

SK: (Laughs) at that point I was a model, not an actor and so I really could not act. Also, since childhood I had a very bad stammer. You can get away with a stammer as a model because even when you do TV commercials, you don’t have to speak much so, you manage. As an actor on television and movies you have to deliver so many lines and a stammer is just unacceptable! Somehow, I managed to do small roles with my stammer. So, I did a show for Doordarshan, a show for STAR Plus and then I did CID. I started realizing that I was passionate about acting and I knew that I would have to work extremely hard if I wanted to become a force to reckon with! People say that if you start working in Bollywood or the television industry then you can’t leave it. Trust me…that is so true! I knew I had found my calling. 



TG: How did you overcome the stammer?

SK: It took a lot of hard work and it took time. I did not go for any speech therapy classes or anything. In fact so many people would give me remedies – speak with a pencil in your mouth etc etc. I tried everything. I used to get scolded by all my directors and the creative teams but I took everything in a very positive manner. I believe that if you find your passion then you will have to go through everything to be successful. Also, there is a saying in Hindi – ‘Laato ke bhoot baaton se nahi maante!’ So, I suppose I needed all those verbal bashings to push myself much harder. For me…it was all motivation and encouragement to achieve my goals. Even today, I tend to stammer when I get very angry but it is not as bad as it used to be. I am very conscious about it and try and control it. Luckily, the stammer is not a problem where my dialogue delivery is concerned anymore.




TG: You have played the protagonist and the antagonist? What comes easier to you…being the good guy or the bad guy?

SK: Even before the ‘positive’, ‘negative’, ‘protagonist’ or ‘antagonist’…I am an actor. I believe that I need to do all kinds of roles. In fact if you look at my career graph, I have tried to experiment as much as possible. I was the antihero in Sindoor, the really good supportive husband in Saat Phere, the grey shaded hero in Bairi Piya, a prominent cameo role in Uttaran and now a mature doctor in Kuch Toh Log Kahenge. I cannot do repetitive work because I can only grow as an actor when I try different roles. So whether it is young, mature, good or bad, I love playing different characters.




TG: A lot of channels are doing mythological shows and they are getting well appreciated by the viewers. Would you ever consider being a part of a mythological show?

SK: I will be very honest…not at the moment. I don’t see myself portraying God. Actually, I have been offered roles in mythological shows. For example, I was offered to play Lord Shiva in Zee TV’s Ramayan and even for the newer shows, I have received offers but somehow at the moment…I don’t want to go there.


TG: You play a doctor in KTLK. As an accomplished and intelligent actor who has been in the industry for so long do you feel that even though the show is very well appreciated there is a complete lack of medical drama in the show?

SK: Of course I agree 100%. I know that KTLK is supposed to be about doctors and yet it is more about human relationships rather than medicine. There is definitely a lack of medicine in the show. At the end of the day that is a creative call and I cannot interfere in that area. 




TG: What was the Nach Baliye experience like? Are you a dancer?

SK: I’ll be very honest, when I was doing Nach Baliye, I was not a dancer at all. In fact I was a very bad dancer at the time so my experience in that show was not as good as it could have been. However, I did another dance reality show for Zee TV called Rock n Roll Family and Terence Lewis was our choreographer. That was an enjoyable experience and I really learned a lot from Terence. After that show, I became a much more confident dancer. I don’t know many dance forms but I enjoy doing Bollywood numbers. I find Contemporary extremely hard.




TG: Nahar was an intricate part of Saat Phere but there was a point when the story went off on a strange tangent especially where your character was concerned. Being a part of the show, if you feel that the story is going off tangent, do you give your inputs to the writers and production house?

SK: Saat Phere was a very important show for me and there were so many times when I asked and wondered what was going on with Nahar’s character. As I mentioned earlier, these decisions are made by the Creative team, production house and the channel so I could not do anything about the strange tangents they were taking Nahar in. As an actor, my job is to convince my viewers, do my job well and go home and sleep tight! Career wise, I have to give complete credit to Saat Phere because though my show Sindoor gave me confidence in terms of acting…Saat Phere gave me recognition in the industry. Nahar established me as an actor in the Indian television industry globally. Even today, when I go abroad, people come up to me and call me ‘Nahar’ and the fact that after all these years people still remember me as Nahar…that is a huge achievement for me. Saat Phere was a turning point in my career.




TG: What made you take up a project like Shaitaan? Do you get involved in the research aspect of the show?

SK: We have a fantastic team taking care of all the research for Shaitaan. During the shoot, I do give my input in terms of how the lines should be delivered. Shaitaan is not a fiction show so we have to be very convincing. The focus is not just on my expressions but also the way my lines are delivered. The lines have to be clear, precise and the dialogue delivery should not drag. So, my input comes in after the script has been written, I sit with the director and we go over the script a couple of times before the shoot. With a show like Shaitaan, the language has to be just right…it cannot be too bookish or clinical. A lot of people ask me – ‘Aisa hota hai kya?’ and we have to make them understand that this is not fiction; all our episodes are actual cases with Police files. Crime is rampant in our society and through Shaitaan, we are making an effort to create some awareness amongst the viewers.


I have to tell you this. Do you know why I was the first choice to host this show? It was because of my voice!! Now that is a huge achievement for me. For 25-30 years I was struggling because of my stammer. My work suffered and my voice and tongue were held responsible for holding me back and now I am getting a show because of my voice!! I was elated when the channel and the production picked me to host an excellent show like Shaitaan for my voice!




TG: Your wife is an accomplished actor. Does she watch your shows and give you feedback?

SK: Absolutely! My wife has been the driving force in my life. She has always been my greatest critic and I always take her advice regarding my characters. Keerti has been in the industry for a while so she understands how things work and her input is extremely important to me. Her feedback really helps me because she has been an actress herself and so she has a clear understanding of what works. Keerti has not only been extremely supportive but she has also given me a lot of encouragement and motivation.




TG: With the ‘Season’ trend starting in Indian television, would you like any of your shows to come back with a ‘Season 2’?

SK: I would love to do Bairi Piya again. I just loved the character of Digvijay Singh and that character established me as an actor in the industry! After Bairi Piya, I was recognized as actor who was willing to take risks and try something different. In Saat Phere, I was the main lead but at the end of the day I was playing a supporting character because the show was about Saloni. Bairi Piya was a completely different ball game. I put my heart and soul into that show because my character was negative and yet I had to convince my viewers that I could still be the hero of the show. Trust me, it was very very difficult. I mean, if a character is good, sweet, the perfect son, the supportive husband then he is automatically hailed as the hero but if the character is negative, can he be the lead of the show? I had to make people see from my character’s point of view, give them my logic and make them believe in my justifications. That was an extremely challenging task. Bairi Piya won me an award so that show is special to me on so many different levels. A lot of people ask me what my favourite character has been and that is a bit difficult to answer. Basically, it’s as if you have 5 kids and you are asked to pick a favourite child. Even though all my shows are special to me, I would still give half a mark more to Bairi Piya. It was a one of a kind show for any channel.




TG: A lot of people don’t know but comedy is perhaps the most difficult genre. After playing some serious roles, what made you decide on Comedy Circus? What was the experience like?

SK: I don’t know why people have the misconception that I am a very serious, rude and arrogant person. I am actually very laid back. I am usually the funniest guy on the shoot and people are constantly telling me to sit quietly but I just can’t!! Maybe people have this misconception about me because of my voice or the way I look…they see me and feel that I am a very mature and ‘to the point’ kind of person. Trust me, behavior wise…I am a kid! My wife is always scolding me because I can’t sit still in one place for 5 minutes. I am a fun loving guy and I want to live my life to the fullest. I make fun of everyone at the shoot and I do a lot of masti on the set. Now that is the way I am but having said that…comedy is a very difficult task. It is a serious job to make people laugh. Comedy Circus was such an amazing experience and I learned so much from it. I have to give full credit to the production company that made Comedy Circus because despite my serious and mature image, they took me on and it was a huge risk for them. So, yes…I am a complete kid at heart, I can never sit still and I am a chatterbox!




TG: Your fans would love to see you and Keerti paired together in a show again. Would that be a possibility?

SK:  Oh yes!! There is no question about that. I am waiting for the day when someone will cast us in a show together. 


Photo credit: Sharad Kelkar & Faisal Raza Khan


©Tinsel Gupshup

sumayyah mootoo
Sep 14, 2013
an extremely honest,inspiring and humble interview.I felt Saat phere ws ur feeling ground.Bairi Piya was definitely your spring board form witch u lunched urself & established ur acting skills.

Ishaa M Saha
Mar 21, 2013
very inspiring!thank u so much dear sharad for this superrr interview..

Mar 21, 2013
Very comprehensive interview :)

Mar 21, 2013
very nice interview SK u are the best keep rocking the show.

Mar 09, 2013
Thnku sio much fr this ... m jus crazy abt him..!!! alwaz keep on lukin to read abt him... this ws realy a nic peice! :D thnnnqqqqqq so much!!!

Mar 03, 2013
Absolute pleasure to read Sharad?s road to success. Surely there?s a lot more successes waiting for him. With his talents, looks and humble nature he will go to places. All the very best Sharad.. Keep rocking !! And thx for this interview Tinsel Gupshup.

Mar 02, 2013
nice interview TG. we get to know of lot of unknown things about actors from ur interviews. have not seen much of sharad's shows but his story is inspiring !!!

Aarti Kulkarni
Mar 02, 2013
Very interesting interview. Very commendable efforts and success story. Great achievement and good example for the new struggling actors. It can happen only if one is humble respectful positive

Aparna Thiyam
Mar 02, 2013
Tinsel features/intv is always interesting to read n enjoyed SK intv too. OMG no one wld believe he was stammer with a voice like that till today.Its pleasure to know his side of story too.Thank u :)

dr Teena
Mar 02, 2013
very nice interview ty my dear sk ur great

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