With powerful films including ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist', ‘Gangster’, ‘Haider’, ‘Raazi’ , ‘Manto’, ‘Kesari’ to his credit, Ashwath Bhatt is definitely creating his own space in Bollywood. Some of his films had a very sensitive subject and he was glad to work with an equally sensitive team.
“I am fortunate that the directors of these films are extremely sensitive people who understood the complexity of these stories. ‘Lamhaa’ was the most difficult as it was many times re-living my personal trauma. Any sensitive subject you do, does affect you and something remains you with forever. Such films help you in developing your craft as well as becoming a better person,” Ashwath, who was born in Kashmir, told Opoyi.
But coming from Bollywood, is he happy to see the way Bollywood has projected Kashmir and Kashmiri youth's life?
“Bollywood has still not done justice to the pain of Kashmiris; both who are in the valley and outside. There are thousands of human stories that need to be told just like the Holocaust and World war stories. It needs lots of research and understanding, that's time-consuming. Also, commercial cinema has its limitations. But I am sure with OTT platforms gaining prominence, we will get to see more humane stories of the conflict rather than the 'dhood' and 'kheer' kind of stuff... ,” said the actor.
He also has no regrets that despite having such a great filmography, he never got a chance to play central characters.
“Every actors wants to play major parts, the ones I played lead or central parts never got released. But I believe everything happens for a reason and any day one part can change your life forever. No regrets. Also I still do theatre regularly so I get to experiment and explore a lot there. It keeps me grounded and relaxed,” said Ashwath who is currently seen in an antagonist role in ‘Cartel’.
Talking about his role, he said, “I am playing one of the dons known as Chairman. The primary reason to say yes was that I had never played such a character. The challenge was to shy away from clichés attached to the personification of gay characters. That was the first thing Suyash (director) and I agreed upon when we discussed the role.”
He also says that “amid so many shows with the backdrop of gang world/underworld backdrop, ‘Cartel’ has a contemporary feel to it.”
Being a Kashmiri, Ashwath helped many youth after the revocation of section 370.
“...I saw them as young students who were suddenly in crisis post 370. They couldn't reach their families and I could identify with their pain as I went through it in the early 1990's when we lost everything in Kashmir. Everyone has to find their own way to inner peace and get rid of hatred,” he said.
The actor says that “we were fortunate to live in a Kashmir which was fun.”
“I always recall how my mom used to take me to watch films regularly. She was crazy about Hindi films and somewhere my schooling in cinema started at a very early age. Also, the school summer camps, treks, and regattas in Dal lake are my best memories,” said Ashwath.
What next after ‘Cartel’
“I am filming an untitled film with Dulquer Salmaan and 'Khudahaafiz 2' right now. I finished shoot of ‘Mission Majnu’ sometime back.
"Also few web series are starting soon. Due to pandemic everything has become uncertainty. Let's hope all the projects start as scheduled. I anyways don't like to take up too much work. Every part needs time and I like to take time to do my homework,” he sums up.