By Siddhi Jain
New Delhi, Jan 9 (IANSlife) One project can be career deciding. That was the case with Hemant Kher who shone onscreen in his portrayal of Ashwin Mehta in “Scam 1992”. Kher has worn many hats in his career but has always been an actor at heart.
Life came a full circle for Hemant. He ventured out as an actor but drifted towards writing and gradually started coaching artists for an acting project and finally ended up being a part of an acting project himself.
Originally from Surat, the actor came to Mumbai in pursuit of acting projects, but life had something else in store for him. Armed with his training with NSD, his next step was to find himself some paid job to sustain himself in the big city of dreams.
“When I came to Mumbai, I thought and was told by some seniors that, work will come to me and I don’t need to chase it. But, this advice did not work much and I was waiting for the right projects to come my way for two years. Eventually, I did get projects but it was for writing. I did not waste the opportunity that came my way and grasped it with both hands. I started writing scripts for Non-Fiction shows such as ‘Jhalak Dikhla Ja’, ‘Just dance’, ‘India’s Best Dramebaaz’, ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’, ‘Dance India Dance’, ‘Indian Idol’ and ‘Amul Masterchef’. Writing content for non-fiction shows is as if there is no writer — it has to be colloquial and conversational.”
Hemant went on to write content for more than 30 shows in 10 years. During one of the shows, he got an opportunity to coach the anchors, “I was working on a show, ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Lil Champs’, and the show decided to hire two kids to anchor the show. As I had written the script, they asked me to coach the kids as well and that met with a lot of applause from the audience as well as industry professionals. After that, I did start getting opportunities to train celebrities for their non-fiction shows.” Hemant coached Javed Ali, Vikas Khanna, Ranveer Brar, Amaal Malik for their show.
As the coaching picked up alongside writing, Kher decided to start an initiative called Rolexplore, which could help actors get into the characters. “Coaching is an emotional experience for me because when I came to Mumbai — I never found anyone to guide me in the correct manner and now when I got a chance, I guide in the manner which will be beneficial to the artist. My approach was that because I didn’t get it, I should at the least lead an artist in the correct manner and not misguide them. Irrespective if they make it big in their career or not, It is my responsibility to guide them to the best of my abilities. I am honest with them about my feedback as to what will work and what won’t.”
In 2016, he decided to quit writing for television as he wanted to create his own films. He even went on to invest in all equipment required and headed out to his farm. “TV gave me sustenance, it gave me financial gratification but It was still missing the creative satisfaction, the recognition I was looking for. So I thought I will make my independent films which will have no known faces as I was pretty confident as a writer and director and I knew how to change people’s lives so I decided to venture into it.”
While on his farm, he got an opportunity to coach the cast of ‘Mitron’. “I coached Jacky Bhagnani, Neeraj Sood, Pratik Gandhi, and Kritika Kamra for the film. Coaching for films is not like acting coaching — it’s more about exploring the character. I got offered Ravanleela as well. Then I was offered a film called Notebook, I played a character in the movie as well as I coached the cast.” He has done on to coach actors such as Allu Sirish, Nupur Sanon, Pranutan Bahl Zoa Morani as well.
Kher’s dream to make a film was maybe on pause, but he continuously kept training himself practically and theoretically as a filmmaker while coaching actors on sets of various films.
Things were about to change when he received a call from Mukesh Chabbria’s office for an audition. “Mukesh knew me from my NSD (National School of Drama) days and I did get calls from his office for auditions but nothing clicked earlier. This time around the call was for ‘Scam 1992’. Hansal sir didn’t believe I am a Gujarati because of my surname everyone believed that I was North Indian. He was skeptical but he saw my audition, then he asked for improvisation, there I came to know Pratik is playing Harshad Mehta. That put my mind at ease and I relaxed because we had worked together in the past. So we did an impromptu improvisation for a scene which went extremely well because Pratik and I had a rapport. At that instance, Hansal sir knew he had his Ashwin and rest is history, of course.”
‘Scam 1992’ exploded in a way that it went on to be a runaway hit on OTT. It gave the recognition that was due for Hemant. “This gives me the opportunity to tell the world my perspective. I plan to present the stories I have written.” Hemant’s aspirations as a filmmaker have taken flight once again and he will soon be coming up with projects that will leave a lasting impact on his audience and inspire them as he was when he saw films.
Hemant is gearing up for his film which he has written and will be playing the lead in. Apart from that he also has another web series in the pipeline which will see Hemant in completely different avatar than Ashwin Mehta.
(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at [email protected])