"In our industry, people will assume that you're not working if you don't do a Balaji show or a Star Plus show," BigBoss contestant Shardul Pandit
The winner of Zee India's Best Cinestars Ki Khoj from Indore region, Shardul started his career as a Radio Jockey with Radio Mirchi. He got into the Limca Book of Records by performing non-stop for 19 hours on the radio. From talking about his debut with Ronit Roy to sharing how he got into Bigg Boss, Shardul Pandit gets candid in this exclusive interview with Tealfeed.
Road to Fame
An actor, a radio jockey, and recently seen in the Bigg Boss house, Shardul Pandit is a popular Indian TV actor and debuted as Maulik Kanji Waghela in NDTV Imagine’s serial “Bandini” (2009) starring Ronit Roy in the lead role.
The winner of Zee India's Best Cinestars Ki Khoj from Indore region, Shardul started his career as a Radio Jockey with Radio Mirchi. He got into the Limca Book of Records by performing non-stop for 19 hours on the radio. After earning recognition in the radio world, he made his acting debut with NDTV Imagine's popular serial ‘Bandini’ starring Ronit Roy and Aasiya Kazi in the lead roles.
From talking about his debut with Ronit Roy to sharing how he got into Bigg Boss, Shardul Pandit gets candid in this exclusive interview with Tealfeed.
Tell us about Shardul before you made it big in the acting industry. Tell us about your childhood
I was a chubby kid. I used to be a swimmer, and when I stopped, I gained a lot of weight. When Radio Mirchi in Indore first started, it was hosting many local television shows and other things. So I was a bit of a celebrity there. When I told people I wanted to act, they would make fun of me, saying how a fat kid like you would act?
Then, “Zee India's Best Cine Stars ki Khoj” aired, and I began losing weight in preparation for it, and I made it all the way to the end. That's how my journey began, and I later moved to Mumbai to work in radio.
Many people asked me if I'd do TV shows, and I always said no because I was from the radio. So I turned down shows like 'Bidaai' and 'Kasam Se.' Then, as these shows became popular, I realized that this was a good opportunity for me, and I should have taken it. When I started saying yes to auditions, my journey as an actor began.
Were you one of those kids who just love to be on the stage or it is something that developed later?
I used to be the kid who was terrified of going on stage, and I remember my mother slapping me, after which I got bread rolls and then went on stage.
When was that particular instance when you decided to pursue a full-time career in acting?
I believe it was during the incident of 'Zee India's Best Cine Star ki Khoj.' I won the Indore contest with Divyanka and others, and that's when I decided that this is an interesting field and that I wanted to pursue it further. So, I believe that was the moment when it occurred to me to pursue a career in acting as well.
You began your career as a radio jockey for Radio Mirchi. So, how was your experience, and when did you decide to pursue a career in that field?
It was an incredible experience. This has been the most rewarding experience I've ever had. Radio had only recently begun in our country when I was an RJ in Indore. As a result, there was a lot of craze.
Today, we see the craze for Splitsvilla and Bigg Boss, but there was a craze for Radio at that time. Ronit Roy and I were among the celebrities who visited Indore. We both had the same fan base, and I also had a Limca record on the Radio, so it was a wonderful experience.
More often than not, people fail to see years of struggles that finally lead to that one show/film that changes everything. Take us through what the feeling was like when you started playing the role of ‘Maulik’ in your first show ‘Bandini’.
I can't even explain. It was extremely cathartic because you were suddenly doing what you had planned to do. Those were some of my best moments. It wasn't so much about the recognition for me as it was about who I was doing a show with.
My major scenes were with Ronit Roy, Rasika Joshi, and Prashant Narayanan. All three actors are from different acting schools; such as Ronit Roy, an awesome hero from commercial television acting; Prashant Narayanan, who is from theatre and films; and Rasika Joshi, who is from theatre and Marathi films. As a result, I learned a lot from them.
What’s that one aspect of being an actor that no one talks about?
People don't talk much about rejection. Rejections are a common part of the acting industry, which isn't talked about much, but it's real, just like it is in any other industry.
How supportive your family has been throughout your acting journey. How did your family react when you first told them about pursuing a career in the acting industry?
Actually, I never told them. I am from a small town in Indore and come from a middle-class family, so pursuing a career in acting is daunting. I just let things happen to me and didn't tell anyone.
I became a star after Radio Mirchi in Indore, then they realized he was into this line, and then "Zee India's Best Cine Stars ki Khoj" happened, and I received recognition. So I never told them exactly because I didn't have the courage to tell them I wanted to be an actor.
You played the lead role in the show ‘Kuldeepak’. How did you start preparing yourself to portray the role of Devang Purohit in that show? How much is Shardul similar to Devang?
Shardul and Devang have nothing in common. In fact, the lack of similarities is one of the reasons I enjoyed that role.
I left Mumbai for three years to do RJ in Dubai, and when I returned, I was a VJ with 9XM. While doing that, I realized I missed acting, so I started going to the gym and taking care of myself because Kuldeepak was a typical commercial project, where the hero and heroine should behave in the same manner that’s stereotyped in our society. Add some drama and black magic to the show to make it interesting, and it became a typical television show.
Basically, it was like a show where the hero doesn't say much, and he's powerful, wealthy, and aggressive, and the heroine is simple, so it was full of stereotypes. That character is not at all like me.
I am from Shahrukh's school of romance; he makes women feel extremely special, and I believe in the same.
However, there is a lot of toxic masculinity on Indian television that the hero should be rich and the girl should be madly in love with him, the hero is aggressive towards her, and she is still trying to win his heart through love and all that drama. As a result, it is not something I believe in. I am the polar opposite.
I am the type of person who will fast for her on Karwa Chauth if a woman does the same for me.
Tell us about your thought process when you received the offer to become a contestant on Bigg Boss 14. And how was that journey?
I had no choice but to say yes at that time because I had left Mumbai following a financial collapse, mental depression, and a lot of other issues. When I went back to Indore, I received the first call from Mirchi and the second from Bigg Boss.
I had decided that whatever it was, I would accept the first call and work on it. That's exactly what happened; when Mirchi called, I accepted the offer and signed the contract because I knew it would take time to become a Bigg Boss contestant. But after that, I was chosen for Bigg Boss, so I asked Radio Mirchi if I could go to Bigg Boss for a few days, and they were very supportive, so I went. That's how Bigg Boss happened.
What does the future look like for you? What kind of roles would you want to do in the coming times? Tell us about your upcoming projects?
First and foremost, I want the entire media and journalism industry to understand that a project is more than just a television show or a web show for an actor or performer. This is a big misconception.
As an artist, I am involved in a variety of projects. For example, I recently voiced a Netflix film that is an animation film. I did a music video called 'Akela,' and I just shot in Bhopal for a Tv show called 'Dangal,' which will be released soon.
And every day, I host my radio show while also hosting for Flipkart, a digital platform. I'm not just doing one thing; I'm doing a lot of things. But in our industry, people will assume that you're not working if you don't do a Balaji show or a Star Plus show.
Your own talk show, ‘’ The Shaana Shardul Show” had gained immense popularity. So what was the idea behind that show?
First of all, it was really embarrassing that they wanted to name the show after me because I have been doing Radio for a very long time and it never happened that there’s a show named after a radio jockey. I know that there is ‘The Kapil Sharma Show’ on television, but he’s Kapil Sharma, he’s my idol. So I was uncomfortable that they were naming a show after me.
But they were very sure they wanted to do it because they said they wanted a show where they could showcase my personality, like my take on things and my opinions. This show is luckily my extension of personality, and I am very honored that this big channel, Radio Mirchi, gave a show of my name which has never happened before.
What are your favourite shows or movies?
I'm a big fan of Turkish dramas. People all over the world are watching Korean dramas, while I am watching Turkish dramas. Because I enjoy thrillers and horror, Turkish shows and films are very different. So I'm watching them these days.
What would be your advice to every young kid who would want to pursue a career in acting?
I would simply advise them to always have a backup.
I had to learn this the hard way. There are many talented actors in Bombay who are currently unemployed. They become famous after a show and then disappear. After ten years, they appear on Bigg Boss. Then we make them popular, and then we forget about them. As a result, I believe it is critical to have a backup.
Road to Fame
"Tough times never last, but tough people do." Road to Fame, a Publication by Tealfeed, gives a sneak-peek into the inspiring journeys and struggles of celebrities who made it big with their passion and determination.