Supreeta Singh
Imran Zahid is the latest blue-eyed catch of the Mahesh Bhatt camp. The owner of a media academy in Delhi, Zahid’s Bollywood debut will see him playing the role of assassinated political leader Chandrashekhar Prasad in Bhatt’s next venture Chandu. The film is supposed to hit the floors next month and is scheduled for a late 2011 release. Excerpts from a telephonic conversation:

Tell us something about your background. How did acting happen?
I am originally from Jharkhand. I came to Delhi in 1996 to study at  Hindu College. As for acting, it came naturally to me. I was always   interested in acting. In fact, theatre is my passion. While In college, I acted in a lot of street plays and have also trained under veteran theatre director, Arvind Gaur. The whole idea of a nine to five job never appealed to me.

How did you bag this role?
I was in Dubai for a media workshop when I met Mahesh Bhatt. This was four years ago and our rapport grew over time. Mahesh Saab wanted a new face for the role of Chandrasekhar Prasad and he chose me. Although I have always wanted to be an actor, I could never allow myself to go begging for roles. So, when Mahesh Saab offered me this role, that too without even an audition, I had to grab it. Otherwise, I was happy running my media academy.

Chandrasekhar Prasad was a Marxist leader in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) who was brutally shot in Bihar’s Siwan in 1997. How did you prepare for the role?
In recent years, there have been very few leaders with such charisma as Chandrasekhar Prasad. As I researched about him, I was impressed by his resolve to bring about social change in Bihar. Hailing from Jharkhand myself, I could immediately relate to him and his predicament. He was shot dead while delivering a speech in his native town, Siwan, and till date his murderers have not been brought to book. Cases like those of Jessica Lall and Priyadarshini Mattoo are freak accidents but there’s such hue and cry over them. On the contrary, Chandrasekhar’s death  was a deliberate attempt by some power clique, which has recieved no attention. Today, the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Shah Rukh Khan, and Sania Mirza are crowned youth icons. But Chandrasekhar is no less an iconic figure because he fought against all odds and gave up his own dreams for the cause of his state and country.

How are you preparing for the role?
Chandu is not a period film at all, as it is rooted in the current political scenario and that is what makes it different. It was only 14 years ago that Chandrasekhar Prasad was shot dead. His friends and relatives are still there. I often visit JNU and spend time with his friends and colleagues. The interesting thing is that the man still has a presence in the university. Students have not forgotten him. Besides, I am reading books on Communism and sifting through Prasad’s personal letters and writings to gain an insight into his psyche.

This is your first film and that too with Mahesh Bhatt.How is he as a person and as a director?
Mahesh Saab is the only person I am comfortable with in this industry. He is my friend, philosopher and guide. I was an ordinary person hailing from a small city. Can you imagine what I must be feeling now? I am indebted to him for giving me such a break. People are already talking about me. I am in the limelight. I have surrendered myself to Mahesh Saab. I will always follow his advice.

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