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Exclusive! Darshan Kumaar: Have more responsibility on my shoulder after The Kashmir Files success and Aashram franchise

Darshan Kumar plays the role of sub-inspector Ujagar Singh in MX Player's show Aashram 3, helmed by Prakash Jha.

  • Shaheen Irani

Last Updated: 02.10 PM, Jun 01, 2022

Exclusive! Darshan Kumaar: Have more responsibility on my shoulder after The Kashmir Files success and Aashram franchise
Darshan Kumaar (Instagram).

Darshan Kumaar is coming back to Aashram as Ujagar Singh in the third season of the show. The actor recalled how he had been constantly receiving questions regarding the show’s release and how some of them really stayed back with him. He also spoke about the difference between working with a star and an actor and if he thinks there is any, in an interview with OTTplay. Excerpts…

Congratulations for The Kashmir Files success. You know Darshan, you are associated with Aashram for years now but then you come in one film and it becomes a revolution. How does that feel?

Right now, I'm on cloud nine since Aashram 3 is also up for release after The Kashmir Files release. People loved Krishna Pandit and Ujagar Singh. God is great and kind that I'm getting the kind of love. I just want to work hard and now, I have some kind of responsibility on my shoulders. So, I'll try to work harder.

Would you say you are used to that feeling after Mary Kom, NH10, Aashram and now, The Kashmir Files success?

I keep some expectations from the film, of course. I try to give my best in everything, every minute. After that, I do get good reviews but I work for the audience so I let them decide. I believe that if you put your heart and soul in a project, it makes the saying 'what comes from the heart, touches the heart' come true. I always believe in that. I constantly try to be genuine with my roles and put my heart and soul in the character. When I get such response, after that I take responsibility and move on to my next project. I don't think a lot about the success or failure of a film but just try to keep working hard.

Now, you are back with Aashram, where you play one of the most important roles, you know? You're at the forefront, trying to expose Baba Nirala. Tell me what are you expecting this time and what should the viewers look forward to, especially from your character?

Ujagar Singh is on a mission. As we all know, in life nothing comes easy. We have to face obstacles in our life in some way or another. That's what is happening but he doesn't give up. He's giving his best and always goes one step further to find the truth. That's what's happening in this is a rollercoaster ride. Whether it would be successful or not, that we have to wait and watch.

Things look interesting. While Esha Gupta has entered the show, we do not know which side is she going to be on. Even with your character Ujagar Singh, we saw the switch. Initially, he did not want to get involved with Baba Nirala's case but eventually he stood up and said let's do this. But then again, since he has backed out before, you never know he could do it again. That might be interesting...

I think that's the best part. The trailer is receiving so much love. We are successful in not revealing the story and still, people are liking it. This is good for both of us because they have an interest in what will happen.

People are waiting when the season will release. It will come out on June 3 at 12 am and everyone is eager. They are so excited! Wherever I went, whether to an airport or mall, everybody would ask me when is Aashram 3 releasing. We are blessed that people are eagerly waiting for our show and giving us so much love.

When you signed up for Aashram, did you ever think that the show would receive the humongous response it has received today?

Definitely. I still remember my casting call. Prakash ji wanted to meet me for the show which had Bobby Deol in the lead as Baba Nirala and I was being considered for Ujagar Singh back then. I was jumping because ever since I came to Mumbai, I wanted to work with Prakash ji. I tried to follow up with him but things didn't work out before this. When I read the script, I told him that the show will break records. He asked me if I was sure and I replied in an affirmative. We had group discussions back then and now we're a family who talks to each other on video call almost every alternate day. Back then also I had told them that and they told me that I am very positive in life. I said that I got a vibe seeing the kind of people involved and our chemistry. I believe in that. God is also very kind along with the audiences. When the first season released, 1.7 million people saw our show, which is huge.

This project is Bobby Deol's comeback so did you ever think that you might be overshadowed? If that thought came to you mind, how did you get over it?

I never got that thought. I do a variety of roles. When I read a script, I read it as an audience - about how I like the film or series. After that, I look at what my character on that show deals with - whether it has some meat and if I can bring something new to it. Ujagar Singh's journey is actually brilliant. You would know it. He faces conflicts and challenges, which the audience likes too. They want realistic cinema. They want a relatable character or story. Ujagar is SI, his father is DIG, brother is IG. They have such high designations and he is a sub-inspector. Imagine the layers Ujagar has. When he faces challenges, he wants to prove himself. That becomes beautiful and touches the audiences too.

People gave me the kind of love I expected, even more actually. I'll tell you about this one incident I had shared. I was travelling and someone was honking continuously. I stopped the car and the person came and knocked. I started thinking if I broke some rule, which I didn't. That person asked me when is Aashram's next season releasing. He said that he liked my work, went back to his car, took a U-turn and left.

One of my mutual friends asked me when is Aashram 3 releasing. He said that his grandpa is aged and very ill and he wants to watch the show. Can you believe that? I started crying. When you get such love, it is a blessing from the universe. We all are blessed to get so much love from the universe.

Ujagar Singh has shown this drastic change from a cop who doesn't want to get involved in a case against Baba Nirala to where he has come today - helping Pammi to destroy Baba in a way. Was it this sudden change of heart the character has, which attracted you to the role? Because it is easy to sit back and say I won't get involved because he's so powerful but going in the lion's den takes courage.

Ujagar is just fed up from the system. However, after meeting Natasha, he realises that he's the only one who can help. So, he embarks on his journey. That is what happens in our real life too, right? We have a goal but need someone to give us that push.

Having so many actors - you have the likes of Chandan Roy Sanyal and Aaditi Pohankar who are as acclaimed as you are as an actor, what was that whole process like? What was it like to be on sets with actors like them who are known are loved for their craft alone?

Since my theatre days with Naseeruddin Shah, I was taught that you are blessed if you have good co-stars because that helps show in your work. When you work with such actors, it is give-and-take and not thinking too much. The scene becomes 10 times better. In Aashram, you cannot think about any other Baba apart from Bobby Deol. He has worked so hard on his role. Chandan is super cool, who keeps wearing the clothes that Bhopa wears, even on the sets. When you talk, it feels like it is the character only in front of you. It develops day-by-day. The best part is that we have bonded so well after Aashram 3. The chemistry was then seen in front of the camera too.

What I'm trying to understand is, you have worked with stars as well as actors who are known only for their craft. Is there a difference when you work with a star and an actor?

As an actor, I have not experienced something like that. We have a bonding on Aashram but otherwise, I used to meet the actors on sets. If you talk about Priyanka Chopra in Mary Kom, she never behaved like a superstar. She's very down-to-earth. I always saw her as Mary Kom only. I would rehearse a scene 10 times with her. I still haven't seen anybody who cuts their own line to give it to someone else. Priyanka has ensured that if a dialogue doesn't fit one character, then the other gets it. This is very rare. We usually focus on our own line but she focused on the overall project. It is why she is in Hollywood too. She wanted a project to be developed. That there should be give-and-take and a chemistry should develop to help the film. If a movie works then we will work, right? Aishwarya Rai would never leave the sets. It was summers in Mumbai but since the scene demanded winter season, she put on a blanket. I didn't feel any difference even with Anushka Sharma, touchwood. I always felt I was working with my co-star's character.

Is Aashram ending with season 3 or there will be more seasons?

Only Prakash ji can tell you that. If you get some news, let me know (laughs).

Your upcoming projects?

My next film Dhokha will release soon. I'm in the lead role with R. Madhavan. Khushali Kumar is making her debut with the film. Aparshakti Khurana is also a part of the movie. It is a suspense-thriller.