With his centrally parted long hair; his rugged and rustic looks and his flowery Kurta and faded jeans attire Yashpal Sharma stands out in Grand Hyatt’s Baniyas Room milling with glitterati. He looks simple, almost out of place in those glamorous surroundings. But this very simple man with his acting talent has become a name to reckon with. His jealous traitor villager in Lagaan and his love- obsessed Bihari underworld don in Gangajal have been two powerful performances, predicting a bright future for this lad.
I start off our conversation by congratulating him on being nominated for the best villain for his Gangajal performance. His face lights up and he says, "Obviously I am happy for being nominated. Even if I don’t win, I won’t mind. As an artist, it is always good to get appreciated by the audiences and critics."
Before coming to films, he was doing theatre for fifteen years. He says, "Originally I hail from Haryana. I was trained at the prestigious National School Of Drama in Delhi. I performed in many plays in Delhi, Chandigadh and other major cities. Finally the urge to do something big in my chosen profession took me to Mumbai."
About his journey in Bollywood, he reminisces- "I started out by doing small roles in films like Arjun Pandit, Hazaar Chourasi Ki Maa and Shool. Then Lagaan happened and that gave me an identity."
He reckons the Lagaan-role as his best role so far. He says, "It was not just a plain negative role. That role had many shades- obsession, jealousy, treason, revenge, desperation for salvation. For shooting this movie, the entire unit had been stationed in the desert of Bhuj, in Gujarat. Aamir Khan and Ashutosh Gowarikar are both such great people to work with. They are perfectionists and plan everything in detail."
About his Gangajal portrayal, I ask him why the Bihari baddies were becoming such a common entity in Hindi film. He candidly says, "I think acting is just a mirror of life. We are seeing such villainous characters in real life- not only in commoners but also in so called political leaders. So it is but natural that such portrayals will be commonly seen in our films."