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regular-article-logo Sunday, 23 June 2024

Taha Shah Badussha on finding success with Heeramandi 14 years after Luv Ka The End

Taha plays Tajdar Baloch in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Netflix series Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar

Sameer Salunkhe Calcutta Published 22.05.24, 04:48 PM
Taha Shah Badussha

Taha Shah Badussha Instagram

Taha Shah Badussha is on a high from all the accolades coming his way for playing Tajdar Baloch in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Heeramandi: The Diamond Bazaar, streaming on Netflix. The actor who made his film debut with YRF’s Luv Ka The End opposite Shraddha Kapoor talked to us about Heeramandi, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, his co-stars and his mother’s contribution to his acting journey.

How did you bag the role in Heeramandi?

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Taha Shah Badussha: The role happened as a twist of fate, and of course, 14 years of not giving up, I guess. Fortunately, when I got the opportunity, it was quite shocking and pleasantly surprising. Whatever knowledge I could use that I have studied over the last 14 years, I tried to use it in that audition, and that's how it came into play. I first got locked for a three-day role in which I signed the contract, and I never expected that my role was going to change. First, it was Balraj's role, who is Tajdar's best friend.

I was very happy to do either of the roles for the opportunity to work with Mr Bhansali. But the fact that Mr Bhansali saw something in me and gave me this incredible opportunity is truly humbling. I have no words to express the gratitude I feel.

What was your first interaction with Sanjay Leela Bhansali like?

Taha Shah Badussha: To be very honest, the first time I didn't really meet him, I actually chased him out of an event. He was going to get in his car and I ran after him. This was about 10 years ago. I said, ‘Sir, I would like to work with you one day’. He nodded and got into the car.

The first time I actually sat down in front of him was when he called me back after the three-day role. He said, ‘You've done a lot of work, but nobody really knows you’. I said, ‘Yes, but I'm trying’. Then he increased my role. I remember very clearly how he was humming a certain tune before he sat down in front of me, and I was just admiring him and trying to be at my best, I presume. But he was very sweet. He was very calm, composed, focused, and looking at me intently.

How was your experience of working with Farida Jalal and the other actresses?

Taha Shah Badussha: Farida ma'am has been like a mother figure to me from day one. She's so full of energy, joy and love, always wanting to give, excited to work, never complaining. I remember the scene where I was supposed to get married and I was wearing the sehra, and the shot was through the mirrors. And very sweetly, very gently, she caressed my cheeks and just gave me so much love and warmth.

Sonakshi Sinha has always been kind and a team player. Manisha Koirala, on the other hand, has been very focused. She was always into the character. There was never a dull moment around Aditi (Rao Hydari). Many times we were shooting way into lunchtime and she used to be very hungry. But I guess the hunger used to spike up her emotions, and she really used to give it her all. And Sharmin has always been fun to work with.

Let’s go back to the start. How did acting happen?

Taha Shah Badussha: I used to model when I was about 16. Very few jobs, maybe once every six months. But being in front of the camera or even being an extra in an ad shoot was truly joyful. I was into real estate. I was also dealing in steel and cement import-export. It was a very boring job and something I detested, to be very honest. Even though I was earning, the money didn't give me joy. On the side, I would research on the film academy and hope that I would get to study there one day.

It’s all because of my mom that acting happened. The day I told her that I wanted to join acting, she was very accepting of it. When I was hiding away, she came up to me and asked, ‘What happened to your acting? I thought you were going to join’. I said, ‘I don't know anybody. None of us are really into this industry, and none of my friends are. And we're in Dubai. It has nothing to do with acting’.

She grabbed me by my hand, twisted my ear almost, and sat me in the car. And she just drove from Sharjah to Abu Dhabi, which is about two and a half hours, drove down to the film academy there, got in, spoke to the principal, spoke to the reception, got me enrolled, paid the fees, dropped me in the dorm where all the boys were staying with absolutely nothing. It was just me in my slippers, track pants and T-shirt. She said, ‘You're going to stay here today. I'll come back tomorrow with your stuff’. It was February 2009. It was all because of the love and strong will of my mom.

Your first film Luv Ka The End was produced by Yash Raj Films. But the gap between your debut film and Heeramandi is quite big. Why?

Taha Shah Badussha: No, there was no gap at all. I always kept up the hustle. I did a film with Dharma called Gippi and a film with J.P. Dutta that didn’t release. I've done a film with Barkha, which Rajshri bought over. I did Ranchi Diaries with Anupam Kher and Baar Baar Dekho where I played Sidharth Malhotra’s younger brother. I did a small series in between. I went to the US. I did two films over there. The hustle was on but I never got the recognition that I thought I would, probably because you have to walk through the path of fire to test your will.

I believe that the supposed gap was the time for me to learn as much as possible, to invest in my acting classes, to invest in my dance, taekwondo, acrobatics, singing, guitar, voice modulation, anything and everything.

Are you happy with the way things have worked out?

Taha Shah Badussha: I've always been happy. Of course rejections hurt you for a while, but I think happiness is a choice. You can become as famous as you want and can still be unhappy. You can have all the money and still be unhappy. I am mostly happy around my mom. I am most happy when I put in my 100 per cent every day. Being persistent and relentless makes me happy. And the way things have turned out is making me more inspired and motivated to continue on this journey. And this journey is making me very happy.

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