Actor Sharib Hashmi on how he moved from being behind the camera to facing it

A dreamy 10-year-old hijacking the cramped centre of a squalid common ground — which, for Mumbal’s slum-dwellers, plays the role of a pay-and-use community toilet — while Amitabh Bachchan’s helicopter descends. Yes, this is a scene from the multiple-Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire. However, a less-noticed sequence from the scene was one involving another character, Prakash, desperately in need of the space, mouthing expletives at the toilet ‘manager’, snatching his penny back and running away.

Step by step

Sharib Hashmi (35), the actor who played Prakash is now four films old. Over phone, Sharib says Nitin Kakkar’s Filmistan, having him in the lead role, has been purchased by Shringaar for nationwide release in June.

Having gained acclaim in different film festivals — among them the Silver Crow Pheasant and Golden Crow Pheasant in the Kerala International Film Festival — the film has won the National Award for Best Regional Film (Hindi).

Introduced to films in his early childhood — his father being a film journalist — Sharib became a cinephile by default.

However, it was about five or six years ago, after working as a creative writer for MTV and Channel V that he decided to act.

Prior to Slumdog Millionaire, Sharib was an assistant director in the Govinda-starrer Hum Tumpe Marte Hain. He had also done a character role in Haal-e-dil. However, it is while working for UTV Bindaas in 2012 that his life’s journey took a refreshing turn. He got a chance to audition for Yash Raj’s casting director Shanoo Sharma. This landed him a role in Yash Chopra’s last directorial venture Jab Tak Hai Jaan. “I got selected and three days later, was shooting for Yash ji!” he says. And, his career shifted gears. Immediately after Jab Tak.., he was offered Filmistan. He quit UTV Bindaas to do films. Nitin Kakkar, a good friend of his, showed confidence in him despite opposition from many others, he says.

Nitin Kakkar’s debut flick, Filmistan finds itself listed along with the likes of Dil Chahta Hai, Khosla Ka Ghosla, and Rock On!!

Sharib says he considers Filmistan his most cherished belonging. “It is about an unlikely friendship that develops between an Indian and a Pakistani — both sharing a passion for Hindi cinema,” he says, explaining the importance of cinema as a medium for diplomacy.