Rachana Dubey (BOMBAY TIMES; June 25, 2017)

After a turbulent start, second chances are difficult to come by in show business, even for those who belong to the industry. Shiv Darshan hasn't had it easy either. His first film Karle Pyaar Karle (2014) didn't fare well at the box office, which forced him to take a step back and think over his next move. A week away from the release of his next film, Ek Haseena Thi Ek Deewana Tha, which is also his home production, the actor talks to BT about second chances, nepotism and why he doesn't have a Plan B. Excerpts...

After a shaky start with Karle Pyaar Karle, does the fate of your upcoming film worry you?
I don't want to think too much about what lies ahead. It's a big responsibility to be from a film family because people expect a lot from you. Box office success does matter, but many big actors like Amitabh Bachchan and Ranbir Kapoor have had shaky starts. And look where they are today. Thinking about what will happen if my film doesn't work will only add to my insecurities. There are actors whose films have never released; I'm lucky that mine is at least releasing. I have seen dad's (Suneel Darshan) films like Andaz and Ek Rishtaa being written off before release, but they went on to become hits.

Second chances are not easy to come by in the industry. The common perception will be that you got one rather easily because you are Suneel Darshan's son...
Being from a film family has its pros and cons. The biggest drawback is that you are penalised for landing opportunities with relative ease. However, what people don't see is that eventually, it's your ability as an actor that will take you far. Even after my shaky start, I had offers, but despite the great content, I couldn't relate to them. So, I let them pass.

Nepotism has always been a talking point. It raked up a storm a few weeks ago too...
(Cuts in) I do agree that it's a plus that I am a filmmaker's son and getting to act in films is a privilege. But if people think that I got my second chance easily, I can't help it. Let people say what they have to. Struggle is a subjective word. I come from a film family but I had my struggles, too. I wasn't a lean-bodied person; I was obese. I had to lose weight and work on my body and diction.

Did you ever want to take a chance at filmmaking?
Direction and production are tough jobs and I don't think I am ready just yet. I had always wanted to be in the industry. I contemplated being a producer and even a distributor, but when I shot as a leading actor's body double in my father's film at the age of 16, I realised that acting is my destiny. Since then, I started working on myself with the intention of being an actor. Over the years, I have done many passing shots in my dad's films. As an actor, I can lead multiple lives, which I can't do in any other profession. While I agree that assisting my father would have helped me understand the profession better, I think my entry has been smooth even without it.

Do you worry about the competition in the industry?
I am my only competition. I am not trying to brag and sound arrogant. There is a lot of talent out there, but I want to be a better version of myself. I work with blinkers on. I appreciate everyone's work, but it doesn't rattle me.

Over the last few years, your father has seen a low phase in his career. Has that affected you deeply?
Dad has never been affected by that. He has never let us feel that he is going through a professional lull. He believes in pulling up his socks and getting on with life. He has also taught me to be patient and persistent. Sometimes, things may or may not happen overnight, but if you work towards it, you will get somewhere in life.

The portrayal and presentation of romance has changed in our movies. Do you think people will be able to relate to Ek Haseena Thi Ek Deewana Tha?
Today, stories are told with a touch with realism. Escapism is what gives you hope and it is something that has always worked. I think they will relate to our wholesome entertainer.

Do you have a plan B?
There is no plan B for me. I only work on plan A and that is being an actor in films.