Actor Darshan Kumaar is receiving as much love as hate for playing the baddie Major Sameer in The Family Man 2. “A kid wrote to me on social media – ‘India ki taraf dekha toh cheer denge,’” Darshan shared with a laugh.
Darshan plays the main antagonist in the Manoj Bajpayee starrer, the brain behind two planned attacks on Indian soil in both seasons of The Family Man. The actor feels people disliking Sameer is the real compliment for him as an actor.
Darshan had a successful run on the digital space in last one year. While The Family Man 2 broke the OTT upon its release recently, Darshan has already appeared in two seasons of Aashram, apart from Avrodh: The Siege Within. And now with The Family Man and Aashram entering their third seasons, a rare for an actor in India’s OTT space so far, Darshan is in a happy place.
In a chat with indianexpress.com, Darshan got candid about how the audience has managed to connect with his characters, the extreme reactions coming his way for playing Major Sameer, and working with filmmakers like Raj and DK and Prakash Jha.
Everyone is a hero in the Family Man. But how is it being the main villain, the one who actually runs the show?
I don’t know what’s happened this time, because people are taking Major Sameer in a different way. The audience is divided. Some are loving my look, performance, and asking why I didn’t appear in this avatar before. That’s because earlier I played earthy characters, but Sameer needed a certain kind of walk, body language. Then, there are those, who are abusing me on social media with such harsh words which I’ve never heard before. Even my friends are fighting with them on my behalf (laughs). It’s insane how they’ve connected with the show and taking Major Sameer as a real person. But, on a serious note, the kind of response we are getting for The Family Man 2 is amazing. We all are flying high.
But you’ve played the good guy, the protagonist before. What do you think changed this time?
Audience loved Avrodh, Aashram and Sarbjit. In fact, I played a negative character in NH10 also, and people appreciated it. But I think this time, they’ve become emotional and taking it personally. They are saying I look like a terrorist. The first time I heard it, I was shocked but now I’m taking it as a compliment. The Family Man shows the reality of how people turn into someone like Sameer.
Were you aware about where Sameer’s track will go in the following seasons, when you signed the show?
When DK sir called me, they had already completed 2-3 schedules of the show and were about to start shooting Major Sameer’s portions in Kashmir within a week. We had connected before but somehow I couldn’t be a part of their previous project. This time I was free. He narrated the role and said my part in the next season will be more powerful. He said that Sameer will become someone people will start hating in the third season, but people started hating me in the second one only (laughs). I was expecting more (screen time) in season two but it’s okay. I’m praying that happens in the third. Though I know I’ll get more “gaalis” but it’s fine.
Sameer’s track, even his scenes are separately placed in the show. Did you ever miss sharing screen space with the main cast, like Manoj Bajpayee, Sharib Hashmi and others?
In first season, I got a chance to stay with Manoj bhai and Gul Panag in Kashmir and Ladakh. Though we didn’t have any scenes together, we used to hang out, go on shikara rides, tried local cuisines. Manoj sir is a big foodie. We did Baaghi 2 together, but I’m waiting when Major Sameer will come face to face with Srikant Tiwari (Bajpayee). Hope that happens soon. Raj and DK are still writing season three.
You’ve worked with Raj and DK before. As an artiste, what do you expect from their projects?
There’s a saying that one and one make eleven. I think it’s true for Raj and DK. Raj sir is the heart and DK sir is the mind of every project. They want something unique and that’s why they are creating something unique. We did A Gentleman (2017), and we had a great time. Whenever they start a new project, I pray to be a part of it. I’m waiting for The Family Man 3 now.
You said you are receiving more hatred for Sameer than you received love for playing other good roles. What is more exciting?
I never see a character as positive or negative. I always believe there is a soul and whatever he is doing in that show or film, is his journey. From my point of view, I believe whatever my character does is the right thing. As Darshan, I will say Sameer is an evil man, but when I’m playing that, I believe whatever he is doing is the right thing. If I’m not convinced about my character, how will I play him?
You played Ujagar Singh, one of the main protagonists in Aashram. How was that experience of being on a Prakash Jha set?
I always wanted to work with Prakash Jha sir. He is a living legend. When I got a casting call to play Ujagar Singh, I was so excited like a kid. We were quite positive that people will love it.
Your scene when you confide in Dr Natasha (Anupriya Goenka) was also praised.
That was the most difficult scene for me. I had to show that I’m drunk and emote how Ujagar Singh was feeling at that time. I was really scared but it turned out to be the most appreciated one for me.
What’s the update on Aashram season three, given season two ended on such a cliffhanger?
Aashram 3 is going to give you a lot of goosebumps. I’ve read its script, but I can’t say much. Praksah Jha has created something magical. It’s going to surprise people more. We were to go on floors in April but things got delayed due to Covid. I’m expecting we’ll start shooting soon.
Are you feeling satisfied with the kind of work coming your way, given your experiments in the digital medium?
OTT platforms have opened up a new horizon not only for actors, but directors, producers, writers, technicians, everyone. It’s celebrating talent. People are watching all global content and loving it. So filmmakers are very cautious of what they are making. They need to make it at par with international projects. Audience wants something new and makers are excited to give them that. It’s a great time for artistes.
Going forward, how are things lined-up for you?
I had some good projects to shoot, but because of this Covid situation and things getting postponed, now several shoots are set to happen simultaneously. Hence, dates are clashing. Sadly, I have to sacrifice a few of those projects. But, I’m working hard with my craft and learning something new everyday. I want to do different and better things. And as I’m bettering myself, I’m also getting more confident. So I’m excited. But I would still say, my best is yet to come.