At the National School of Drama he did quite a few plays which highlighted the difference between the haves and the have-nots. In the upcoming film Das Kapital, Bollywood actor Yashpal Sharma is playing a lower caste cashier who has not prospered while his contemporaries have moved ahead in life.
Yashpal, known for playing different yet realistic characters in Lagaan , Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi and Rowdy Rathore , says theatre continues to be his passion even though films help him live comfortably in the expensive city of Mumbai.
Trained in different aspects of theatre at the NSD during the 1990s, Yashpal says he has been able to carve a niche for himself in the professionally demanding and highly competitive world of Bollywood due to his strong grounding in theatre.
“Undoubtedly, hard work, honesty and perseverance pays in the film industry. But it is important to polish your theatrical skills before facing the camera. Acting in plays of different genres was tough and at times quite demanding but it has given me the confidence and expertise to enact any character on the big screen.”
Though Yashpal hails from Haryana, he mostly plays an archetypal bhaiya hailing from Uttar Pradesh or Bihar. This is due to his looks and ability to effortlessly utter dialogues with East U.P. or Bhojpuri accent. This probably explains the reason why he has again been repeated as a Bihari in Das Kapital . But Yashpal says it was his scriptwriter who wrote the role of a lower caste Bihari cashier with him in mind.
“It was my scriptwriter’s prerogative. As a professionally trained actor I can play any character with conviction. In this profession looks can be deceptive. I may look like a Bihari, but then I have the potential to play any character hailing from any region of the country.”
To illustrate his point, Yashpal says he is playing a Maharashtrian in the upcoming feature film Myoho: The Mystic Law . To get the diction right, he was helped considerably by his wife, who hails from Maharashtra. She was his classmate at the NSD.
“As my wife is fluent in her mother tongue, she helped me in rehearsing the dialogues. The rest came automatically. I could get the body language, mannerisms and other aspects of my character by keenly observing people living around me in Mumbai.”
Yashpal is basically playing a Marathi manoos . “My character bears some similarities with Raj Thackeray of Maharashtra’s Navnirman Sena but the character is not based on him.”
Yashpal’s on-screen character looks down condescendingly upon his neighbours who have settled down in Mumbai from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. But his hatred for his fellow Indians from other States melts away when he watches them work round-the-clock to free hostages holed up in Hotel Taj during Pakistani terrorist attack on Mumbai.
As the film has been segregated into two different stories, Yashpal is playing a belligerent and dictatorial Thakur whose sister elopes with a lower caste man and surreptitiously enters into a wedlock with him.
“Due to mounting pressure, the couple decide to commit suicide”.