Indian actor and television personality Anshuman Malhotra has been acting since the age of 18. He has starred as the young Haider in Vishal Bhardwaj`s Haider, played leads on shows like Yeh Jawani Tara Riri, Warrior High, and Nagarjun – Ek Yodha, making him a heart-throb and a youth icon. Anshuman became a household name when he was cast for a web-series called Class of 2017 by ALT Balaji. He is also a theatre enthusiast and relishes learning the complexities of being a stage performer. Anshuman marked his Bollywood debut in 2019, with the romantic drama film Hum Chaar.
You have often been quoted as saying that “Shah Rukh Khan is my biggest inspiration.” In light of that statement, what is his one quality that you wish you had and why? What advice would you give to young people wanting to step into the entertainment industry?
I grew up watching Shah Rukh Khan, and I give him full credit for inspiring me to become an actor. I believe I got my “acting ka keeda” from him. The passion with which he performs his craft has to be one of his best qualities. Most people forget the reason why they came into the industry, they forget how much they loved acting, but with Shah Rukh, his work expresses how passionate he is about acting and cinema after all this time. He puts his best in each film, and his screen presence is magnificent.
The most crucial advice I’d like to give to people wanting to make it big in the entertainment industry would be to be real: to not pay heed to nay-sayers, and to not fear judgment. It is very easy to get lost here, so you must anchor yourself to your truth, and be open to learn and to change, as change is the only constant. In the industry, no one is the best. The only way someone can be the best is when they are trying to be better each day.
You are one of the few people who have been vocal about their journey on Splitsvilla. Please share your experience with us.
I was vocal about my experience, indeed. I felt no reason to be secretive about it. From the get-go, I had taken Splitsvilla as an opportunity to have some fun while on vacation. As children, we participated in competitions and races at school. However, as adults it became unviable. Splitsvilla has people planning and organizing tasks and activities for the contestants to perform; I took it up as an enjoyable challenge. I never paid any attention to what people had to say about the show. I had attended a co-ed school, so partnering up with girls for tasks seemed natural to me. After all, we’ve all had female/male friends at school whom we’ve paired up with for the annual day or sports day! It was a great experience, and I had a lot of fun.
From a teenager in Class of 2017 to Arjun in Nagarjuna-Ek Yoddha, you have portrayed a wide range of characters. Which role did you find the most challenging, and why? Which platform do you personally prefer and why?
My preference would be in the order of movies, OTT, followed by the theatre. Very few people are aware that I have dabbled in theatre. The excitement, followed by the butterflies in your stomach, anticipating facing the audience reaction, knowing full well that there cannot be any re-takes is surreal. I remember, once during a dance performance, I did a step wrong. One needs to be alert and intercept the rhythm without letting the error slip to the audience.
I’d say that Arjun from Nagarjuna has been my most challenging portrayal yet. First off, I had to put in a lot of effort in maintaining my physique as per the character, for which I had to swear off salt and sugar. As the protagonist, I worked a lot of hours and even shot action sequences.
As an undisputed youth icon, do you feel any responsibility concerning your endorsements and the content which you post on your social media handles since a lot of youngsters look up to you?
Of course! I feel extremely responsible for any content I post online or anything I endorse. Let’s take Yami Gautam’s example. She has been starring in great movies and is doing well for herself. She could have turned down the fairness cream endorsement offer, but instead, she chose to go ahead with it. Anyone who has a platform, and influence over their fanbase, has a responsibility. Unfortunately, some actors are not ready to take it. I am not the most responsible person out there, but I believe that everyone should be conscious of the choices they make. I always try to make an informed decision and avoid endorsing or encouraging anything that might harm people.
What is one funny memory from your childhood that you especially cherish?
My childhood was quite carefree. When I was in the 11th grade, my friend Harmeet and I used to bunk school every day and go to this shop to eat junk food and make business plans with the owner, Rippi, who was a friend. We’d tell him to renovate his shop and convert it into a lounge area so that people like us, who were big on bunking classes, would come in to relax. We’d spend our time talking about how much money the business would make and how we’d all end up rich. After spending some time with Rippi at his shop, we would go and watch a movie, and he would always say, “Kya karte ho tum dono? Subah-subah itne acche sapne dikha ke, chale jaate ho.”