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“I have always been very choosy as an actor” – Shashank Arora

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Shashank Arora, who makes his debut with Yash Raj Films and Dibakar Benerjee’s ‘Titli’, is on a roll. After working with some reputed names in his first film, the actor will be seen sharing space with Farhan Akhtar in ‘Rock On!! 2’ and will be part of Prakash Jha’s ‘Lipstick Waale Sapne’. In this interview, he talks about playing the titular role in his first film, the preparations that went into getting into the skin of a character, he was not familiar with and going to the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

You play the title role in ‘Titli’. Would it be right to assume that the film revolves around your character?
That would be the most obvious interpretation but ‘Titli’ is an ensemble film. The film tells the story of a family and all the characters are central to the plot of the film. The term Titli can be treated as a metaphor in the sense that that the protagonist wants to get out of the world that he is in and fly away like a butterfly. There are a couple of other reasons as to why the character is called Titli. Kanu (Bahl) liked the softness of the name. The character is a very submissive guy stuck in a family full of hardened criminals. As a child, Kanu was teased for his name as it supposedly had a feminine ring to it. People used to make fun of him. People will understand the significance of this name after they watch the film.

You are a city bred boy. How did you prepare to play a character which is starkly different from the way you are and is based in a world you are not familiar with?
A lot of research went into preparing for the role. I went through a series of auditions followed by many workshops which included going to Delhi, observing people and getting an insight into the characters and their world.

You have worked as an assistant casting director, composed jingles and have even taught acting students. After doing a variety of jobs in the creative field, is acting something you have finally decided to make a career out of?
I dreamt of becoming an actor ever since I was five years old. Everything else I did was just to make money and survive. I waited for good opportunities to come to me. I have always been very choosy as an actor and preferred doing quality work.

‘Titli’ premiered in the ‘Un Certain Regard’ category at Cannes Film Festival last year. How was the experience of going to the prestigious film festival?
Going to Cannes Film Festival was like a dream come true. You have Orlando Bloom on your left and Nicole Kidman on the right. It felt great to be in the company of such wonderful people. Cannes is the biggest celebration of cinema and it was an honour to be a part of it.

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