Ajay Shankar, 'actor from Parmanu'
The actor talks about his Hindi debutr film, Parmanu, alongside John Abraham
For a Hindi film, Parmanu enjoyed nearly six weeks of runtime in Chennai and Mumbai-based Tamil actor Ajay Shankar is very glad for it. "I am an engineer who has been trying to establish himself as an actor for more than a decade now. So being part of a long running mainstream film like Parmanu helped a lot. Unlike independent films, Parmanu gave a debutant like me a lot more visibility."
He admits his character was only a small part of the narrative, "but it is an important one nonetheless without whom the operation wouldn't have been successfully carried out." He remembers two important gifts that he received from people who watched the film. "My cousin has quite a large watch collection. I don't wear a watch at all, but after seeing the film, he was so moved that he gave me a watch. I have been wearing it ever since."
The second incident he shares is based on his character's predilection for eating at his desk. "So, my character has a desk job and because of that he is a little overweight. Now, I was a thin guy and I had to put on a lot of weight for the character, to the point that I phoned the director one day and said my clothes aren't fitting me. The director laughed and said now we are good to go. Since my character is someone who eats a lot on the desk, we were thinking on the day of the shoot what to start with and I came up with banana chips. To my surprise, there are some online articles which don't call it banana chips but Parmanu chips. I found that quite sweet."
He recalls one particular moment during shoot that inspired him. "Usually in the serials I have acted in, the lead comes in, does his line and then leaves. But John, even though he had just a single line, waited from half past eight in the morning till half past nine at night for all of us. That was quite inspiring and something I wish to imbibe."
The actor was almost part of the 2007 Dhanush-starrer Parattai Enum Azhagusundaram, but it did not materialise. He hopes he will eventually get a chance to make his mark in Tamil cinema.
Ajay has two films ready for release. "One is called Acche din aane waale hain. It was finished a couple of years ago and the producer has been trying to release the film for some time now. We don't know if it will finally get a theatrical release, but are hoping for a web release at least. The second is a film with (casting director-turned-filmmaker) Mukesh Chhabra, but I can't talk about my role in it." Speaking of the latter makes him realise how far he has come. "Ten years back, it was difficult for me to get casting calls from renowned casting directors like him. I used to message and mail to no avail. Now, I just send a mail saying Ajay Shankar, actor from Parmanu and I immediately get an audition call and a screen test. People have time for me now."