When astrology met astronomy – cinemaexpress

In this interview, the actor chats about his personal stance on religion and faith, the box-office success of Mission Mangal and his recent experiments in the OTT space

Published: 21st August 2019

Indian astrologers have been dealing with Mangal way before the Mars Orbiter Mission started circling the red planet. The contrast (and co-existence) of science and superstition is comically explored in Jagan Shakti’s Mission Mangal, which released last week on Independence Day. In the film, Sharman Joshi plays Parmeshwar Naidu, an ISRO scientist who is ridden with superstitious beliefs and is crucially afraid of dying a virgin. Sharman essayed a similar character in 3 Idiots, as devout student Raju Rastogi. 

In this interview, the actor chats about his personal stance on religion and faith, the box-office success of Mission Mangal, his recent experiments in the OTT space and his upcoming film Fauji Calling. Edited excerpts…
Are you superstitious in real life?

I do believe in energies, in time. I used to be superstitious as a kid. I’d take three steps back if a cat crossed my path. Or wait for good fortune if a crow took care of its ablutions on my shoulders. As a child, you are also told if someone walks over you, your height won’t increase. I used to believe in those things, then stopped after a point. Now, I am back to being superstitious about cats. Some time back, I started wearing a Pukhraj (yellow sapphire) stone ring — for better career prospects. But now that Mission Mangal has done well, I don’t wear it anymore (laughs). 

You’ve been a part of ensemble casts before. How different was the Mission Mangal experience?

For one, the film was shot in a short span — just 32 days. It was a treat to work with Jagan, the entire female cast and of course, Mr Akshay Kumar. I’d never worked with him before. It was great to see his professionalism and team spirit. I’m also a huge fan of R Balki (Mission Mangal’s producer and co-writer) who visited the set a few times and gave me tips.

There is also a romantic arc in the film between Parmeshwar and Eka (Sonakshi Sinha). 

Sonakshi is a lovely girl, easy to work with. Since we were shooting in Mumbai on a tight schedule, we didn’t get to know each other that well. But it was a great working experience. The same holds true with Nithya, Taapsee, Kirti and Vidya, who is such a prankster and a warm human being. 

Mission Mangal crossed Rs 100 crore in five days. How important is the film’s commercial success for you? 

An important and inspiring story like this one needs to reach the largest possible audience. At the end of the day, I am working in commercial cinema. A successful film like Mission Mangal puts that many feathers in my cap. It’s definitely a milestone film in my career. 

You made your digital debut earlier this year in Baarish. What’s next for you? 

I’ve finished another web show called Pawan and Pooja. It will come out on MX Player. It’s produced by Siddharth Malhotra and directed by Shaad Ali. The show is about three couples and their love stories. The oldest couple is played by Mahesh Manjrekar and Deepti Naval. The middle-aged couple is Gul Panag and myself. The youngest couple is essayed by newcomers (Taaruk Raina and Natasha Bharadwaj). It’s an edgy, contemporary show. 

You are are also working on a feature film called Fauji Calling… 

It’s a lovely film that pays an ode to the Indian army and its soldiers. It brings out the concerns of our soldiers if they were to lay down their lives in the line of duty. We shot a major schedule near Ranchi in Jharkhand. The film is still on floors. We expect to finish the film in the next few months and release it next year. 

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