Model Sahil Salathia is a familiar face on the Indian glamour scene, having walked the ramp for a number of high-end fashion shows and been the face of many brands in the print and television commercials.
And like most glamazons, Sahil now makes the much anticipated cross-over to acting and debuts as the male lead in Ashutosh Gowarikar‘s Everest which will be screened six days a week on TV, starting from the 3rd of November.
In an exclusive chat with Team MissMalini, Sahil sheds light on his role as a mountaineer and what it took to get into the skin of his character.
Team MissMalini: Tell us about Everest and about your role in the serial.
Sahil Salathia: Everest is a show made by Ashutosh Gowariker. He has not only produced it but written it as well. The music is composed by the legendary Oscar winner A R Rahman and the show is directed by the director-duo, Glen-Ankush.
I play the lead protagonist called Arjun Sabhrawal. He is a celebrated mountaineer who has already conquered six peaks and now, his aim is to climb to the summit of Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world. Arjun is from London, has very rich banker parents, is very fit and dedicated towards his goals. In a nut shell, a rock star with a heart of gold. But having said that, like everybody else, he also has his inner struggles in life that he is trying to overcome!
Team MM: How did you land the lead role?
SS: It all started with our amazing casting director called Nalini Rathnam, she is the most professional casting director ever and knows exactly what she is looking for in her characters. Then I met Mr. Gowariker who was as polite and humble as ever. After that, we were put through a series of look tests to work out the final look and see if it was all falling into place! It took about seven to eight look tests for Arjun Sabhrawal to come to life!
Team MM: What did you do to prepare for the auditions?
SS: Honestly, I tried to understand Arjun. For me, acting is not about playing a character, it’s about being that character. I tried to think and behave like Arjun. I was obviously briefed by my casting director so I knew the detailed character sketch at my first audition itself. And the other thing that really worked in my favour is my love for adventure, since I have already skydived from about 10,000 feet above the sea level. The adventure junkie factor made Arjun and Sahil very similar in that aspect.
Team MM: Where did you’ll shoot the show?
SS: Oh… in so many places. In Bombay, Jodhpur, Nepal, Uttarkashi, Dokriani glacier in New Zealand and the list doesn’t end here. Yes, we shot at the Mount Everest base camp as well. Imagine the feeling… we lived on a glacier where the temperature was at about minus six degrees with very low oxygen levels. And we lived there for a month at a stretch. It was all really difficult but magical!
Team MM: Tell us some fun/scary anecdotes from the set.
SS: There were so many that its difficult to pinpoint a few! But okay, have you not taken a bath for a whole month… ever?? I had skipped bathing for a month while we were at the glacier filming – not only me, the whole cast and crew! Actually, it’s humanly not possible to do that. You can get frost bites and fall really sick and this could call for an emergency. Other than that, once when we were filming, a snow storm popped up. Luckily it was not very strong, else, I would not be here talking to you. (laughs)
Team MM: What did you learn by working with Ashutosh?
SS: So much… he is truly a visionary who knows exactly what he wants. Having said that, he is such a polite, calm and a humble person. Other than that, I want to be just as focused and disciplined as him. He has way too many qualities for me to learn and it will take me a lifetime… but I am trying to emulate his example as much as possible. He was and shall always be my favourite director and Lagaan shall always top my list of best films.
Team MM: Did you need to partake of any special training or acting lessons to fit in with the character that you’re playing?
SS: Of course! I had to go through a lot of physical training. I used to train every single day in the mountaineering school which is in Uttarkashi, the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. There were all sorts of training regimes like climbing this huge sixty feet tall climbing wall or running five kilometres at a stretch to keep up the fitness levels required of a celebrated mountaineer.
Team MM: And finally, what about Bollywood? Any projects that you’re working on?
SS: Right now I am in a contract with Ashutosh Gowariker Productions(AGPPL). After this, Bollywood definitely interests me! Actually, any excellent script with a phenomenal team would interest me, be it any medium or any language.