Suddenly Delhi-bred theatre actor Anant Vidhaat has everyone in Bollywood inquiring about who he is. His scene stealing act as Salman Khan‘s loyal friend Govind is one of the major talking-points in Sultan. Anant is a trained theatre actor from Delhi with a fierce dedication to acting.
Says the actor, “It’s just coincidence that I’ve done two earlier films Mardaani and Gunday for Yashraj films. I got Gunday because the director Ali Abbas Zafar and I were in the same theatre group in Delhi. He remembered me when he was casting. Again when the role of Salman Sir’s best friend came up in Sultan I was called for an audition. That’s how I got the role.”
Little did Anant know he’d be flooded with praise for his supremely supportive performance. “I am grateful for all the attention. There’s a lot of curious inquiry about who I am, where I come from, etc. In theatre when we perform we get applause and attention. But this is recognition on another level altogether. I can’t thank Ali Abbas Zafar and Salman Sir enough for the faith they showed in me.”
Anant says Salman put him at ease and treated him like a co-star from Day 1. “Right at the start of shooting when I was very nervous about facing the camera with a star so big he called me aside and said, ‘Agar tum achche dikhoge toh main achcha dikhunga, agar tum achche nahin dikhoge toh main bhi achcha nahin dikhunga.’ That broke the ice. From that moment onwards Salman Sir laid down the mood for the film. We shot as two co-stars and I was never made to feel I was working with a superstar.”
While Anant comes from the discipline associated with theatre, Salman is known to improvise and deliver his lines extempore. Anant says he had no problems adjusting to Salman’s style. “Of course we do a lot of rehearsal in theatre. But we also do a lot of improvisation on stage. So I had no difficulty in catching on to Salman’s Sir’s sur. A lot of what we do on stage is impromptu. And that’s Salman Sir’s style. While working with him I never knew what to expect. That element of surprise was an ongoing thrill while shooting.”
The reason Anant’s buddy’s role has turned out so effectively is because the writing was conducive to a creative environment. Explains Anant, “My character has a responsibility. He has to tell Sultan’s story. From the beginning when we meet Govind in the film we see him within the plot’s context. We know what place he occupies in Sultan’s life. Normally roles of the hero’s friends are not written so well in Hindi films. I was at first not sure. But I am glad I did the role. Now when I am offered a routine hero’s friend’s role I can always argue, ‘I’ve played Salman Khan’s friend. How can I play anyone else’s friend?’
Anant says he enjoyed working not only with Salman but also Amit Sadh and Kumud Mishra who plays Anushka’s father. “Kumud Sir and I are both from theatre. So there was a special bonding with him,” says Anant.
About the Haryanvi accent, Anand chuckles, “I am asked if I am actually from Haryana. I’ve lots of Haryanvi friends in Delhi. And I am a good observer. In my next film if I am asked to a Bihari accent I can do that just as well.”