Awards have not changed me.. Shiney Ahuja

Tremendous critical acclaim for his debut film and a heap of awards in its wake may have catapulted Shiney Ahuja into the big league in Bollywood, but he says that they have not changed him.Talking to a news agency on the eve of the release of his films Woh Lamhe and Zindagi Rocks , Shiney said the series of awards he had won for ‘Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi’ and success of Gangster had not changed him.

‘’Awards have not changed me. Rather, I am the same person as I was before ‘Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi’. The only thing that has changed is the attitude of the people and the industry towards me- while earlier nobody knew who Shiney Ahuja was, now post ‘Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi’ and ‘Gangster’, the people and the industry are talking about the same person,’’ Shiney said.

The surprise success of Anurag Basu ’s ‘Gangster’ this year, following close on the heels of the host of awards for ‘Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi’ on the Indian film circuit, including the Critics Award for Best Debutant at the Screen Awards, have firmly placed Shiney on the Bollywood skyway, establishing a niche for him as an actor to reckon with.

However, despite the tremendous accolades and the heightened industry focus on him post ‘Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi’ and ‘Gangster’, Shiney Ahuja is not celebrating yet.

‘’Winning awards is definitely encouraging more so for a newcomer like me. However, I feel that rather than let this acclaim sweep you off your feet, it is important to stay focused on one’s work and work harder to meet future challenges. I remember, the director of ‘Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi’ Sudhir Mishra telling me when I went to him after winning the critics award for best debutant for the film that ‘after this award, you are no longer competing with the debutants but now are in direct competition with the big league of stars’. Therefore, for me it is important to now concentrate harder on my work,’’ Shiney says.

Admittedly, after the success of ‘Gangster’, Shiney is on a roll. From being an ‘also ran’ actor about three years ago who did bit roles and cameos in films like Karam , Shiney is now basking in the attention of the industry with a number of filmmakers offering him lead roles.

So, while in Tanuja Chandra ’s ‘Zindagi Rocks’, he plays the lead role opposite Sushmita Sen , in ‘Woh Lamhe’ too, a film on the life of yesteryear actress Parveen Babi , he plays the male lead opposite Kangana Raut . Further, he has also bagged a key role in Priyadarshan ’s next, which also stars Akshay Kumar and Vidya Balan .

However, one wonders whether films like ‘Zindagi Rocks’ and ‘Woh Lamhe’ would offer any scope for Shiney to display his histrionics/acting skills as in ‘Zindagi Rocks’, the entire focus seems to be on Sushmita, while ‘Woh Lamhe,’ based on the life of late Parveen Babi, would invariably revolve around Kangana.

“Even in the case of ‘Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi’ and ‘Gangster’, I was told that the women in the film would hog the limelight. However, in both the films, my roles have been highly appreciated. In ‘Zindagi Rocks’ too, I have an important role and am confident it will be noticed by the audiences,” Shiney said.

As an actor, Shiney may have well and truly arrived in Bollywood but one cannot but observe that most of his films till now, as well as those ready for release, have him playing realistic roles rather than that of a typical mainstream hero of Hindi cinema who indulges in melodrama, comedy or action.

“Earlier, when I did ‘Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi’, people asked me why I was doing a realistic film. Now that I have done commercial films like ‘Gangster’ and am doing others like ‘Zindagi Rocks’ and ‘Woh Lamhe’, I am being asked why I am doing realistic roles. I want to state that I am open to song and dance kind of roles if an offer for such a role comes to me. In fact, I would love to do an emotional, melodramatic role or a comedy,” Shiney said.

Shiney said all the roles he had done till now comprised a wide variety of characterisations. “While in ‘Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi’, I played a scheming money-minded extrovert person, in ‘Gangster’, I played a person who had been forced by circumstances to become a gangster and whom the weight of his problems had made him go into his shell. In my forthcoming ‘Zindagi Rocks’, I play this introvertish workaholic doctor who falls in love with a woman who is totally opposite of him. After meeting this woman, he experiences a 180 degree change in himself,” Shiney said.

Born and brought up in Delhi, Shiney did some training in theatre with Barry John before landing the role in ‘Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi’. However, Shiney says the long waiting period before the release of ‘Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi’ was frustrating.

“So many times, I was told that the publicity of ‘Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi’ was about to start soon. But in the next six months, nothing would happen. Waiting for more than three years for the release of the film was a stressful experience for me. Even after the release of the film, it was always like I wanted to make up for all those lost years by wanting do only work and more work, which made me go into my shell. However, I now feel that I need to be more chilled out,” he says.

Among Shiney’s dream roles are the ones played by mega superstar Amitabh Bachchan in Ramesh Sippy ’s ‘Shakti’ and the one essayed by Brad Pitt in ‘Seven’.

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