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Exclusive! Sharad Kelkar: Didn't get as much work post Baahubali, hoping that changes with Operation Romeo

Sharad Kelkar plays the lead role - of a fake police officer - in Operation Romeo.

  • Shaheen Irani

Last Updated: 05.36 PM, Apr 24, 2022

Exclusive! Sharad Kelkar: Didn't get as much work post Baahubali, hoping that changes with Operation Romeo
Operation Romeo - Sharad Kelkar.

Sharad Kelkar is back, this time in Operation Romeo. The actor talks to OTTplay about life since Baahubali, after it and how he has to approach filmmakers for good work even today. Excerpts…

A guy from Madhya Pradesh who does Hindi films aani evdhe chaan Marathi chitraatun yete and then you go and work in a Tamil film too, after exploring a movie like Baahubali. How do you do it?

Because I want to do it yaar. I want to learn and achieve more. I want to do stuff that gives others also happiness. Nothing more I want to say because you should do something you know and love.

No, but genuinely. Did you have to give it some time and now feel satisfied with the kind of work you have or what is it like?

Yeah, I was born in Chattisgarh and brought up in Madhya Pradesh so my Marathi was not that great of even okay. Then obviously, I learnt the graphy and language. I'm still learning.

My journey has been great in terms of work. I got opportunities, was accepted by people in the industry. That's enough for anyone who comes from a small town and lower middle-class family. I'm quite satisfied for the last 20 years. Of course, there have been many ups and downs and I still struggle and go out and ask for good work. I will keep on continuing that.

Which is such a sad scenario because you have been associated with a film like Baahubali, which is the highest-grossing Indian film. You were the voice of the film but weren't really given the credit for that. Despite that, you are telling me you have to go out and look for work. Why is this the scenario?

I stopped thinking about it. Now I think I have to do good work and constantly work on myself. Apna Time Aayega.

What has life been like post Baahubali. Did you get many offers?

Not much, actually. Voicing is one part but sometimes it becomes that people don't look at you on a performance level because your voice is good. Sometimes, people assume that an actor can be too overpowering because of the voice. It's a mix bag for me till now. Operation Romeo can be a turning point for me. The makers could see me in a different light altogether. Let's hope for the good and keep on working.

With Operation Romeo, we see moral policing and how the couples could get harassed for trying to have a quiet time to themselves. This is a very real issue and literally every trespasser has a judgement upon seeing a couple, who, for any given reason, are not in a home or hotel. I'm sure many of us have faced this and you know this issue is not only limited to boyfriends and girlfriends. Even a married couple who is not wearing a chooda, sindoor, burkha, dupatta or something that "proves" they are married get picked on. So, it is quite a real issue, won't you agree? Don't you think it should be addressed in the right way?

Obviously. It's about the mentality. The concern is towards that. It isn't about what is happening but the mindset. I think, what we're trying to do with the film is starting the change from somebody's home, because unless we start teaching our kids what our morals are and how they are important for you and your kids. You need to be friends with your kids rather than being a dominating parent. You can be a guide and be good friends with your kids so they can trust you and tell you everything they are doing. It starts from there and then these things might end. It's all about the mindset yaar - the conservative mindset we have since ages - it needs to be changed. We are free individuals. The kids are also more matured than we were and know what they're doing and where their life is going. We just need to guide and protect from outside and don't have to interfere much in their lives. You have to train them from their childhood about their own choices, freedom and strength of making decisions so that when they grow up, they are ready for the society. For moral policing, obviously, the parents should start taking a stand. If a neighbour comes and objects on your daughter's clothes or your son's going out, they should correct them. It should start from your house.

Operation Romeo is inspired from a Malayalam film, Ishq, which was a hit when it released. But the movie released two years back and some people already know the story. Remaking the movie which already broke barriers in a time when India was evolving, to now when we have seen so many films where women take charge, what attracted you towards the story?

It was a regional film. We all, including Neeraj (Pandey) sir, thought that the film should be treated in a pan-India way or even bigger than that. If you see the last five minutes of the film, this movie has a very large message and it could shake people to the core. We thought this should reach out to maximum people. We all decided to correct it and make a remake. It's a very difficult role to play and if Neeraj sir has called me, that means he's sure that he wants me in it. He doesn't keep options for any of his characters, whether Baby or Special Ops or anything else. When the actor refuses, then he rethinks about who will do his project. When he called me, he told me that this role is meant for me and though it's a bit difficult. In the past two years, people saw me in different avatars and this is one of the different avatars people might love to hate. It's a little difficult for an actor also so I took the challenge. If I gain the anger of audiences with this character, it will make me very happy.

You worked with Neeraj in Special Ops. Was that where Operation Romeo's journey began?

You can say that was my look test (laughs).

Do you personally believe in remakes, especially from South Indian films, since you know, Shahid Kapoor's Jersey, which is also Nani's remake, also released at the same time as your film?

If the story is good, it should reach to maximum people. It is why people do remakes. It's good. At least the writers' efforts are reaching people. Films are all about stories, so if it's stuck in one particular language, it's not fair to the writer also. The remakes are already been done and they are working well, so why not? They do our remakes as well, like Pink being remade in Telugu and Tamil. Sairat was made in different languages. The exchange of concepts has been happening and it's working, so why not? It's good for the industry and business. I'm happy because this is flourishing.

Sharad, we know and love you as a villain but after one point, do you also feel like, dude, I can do more. Give me something to explore!

Obviously yaar. Every actor thinks that way and I'm also looking for that opportunity - that someone does put their hand on me and asks me to be a hero. They tell me that I will be a hero as I grow. Now, I'm just waiting to grow.

People should give me more chances rather than just considering me. This year, I'm going to prove it right with one film that is releasing. I'm playing a hero in that. It's a big film for sure.

What are your upcoming projects?

I have six more releases this year.