Zeeshan started his career in Bollywood in 2011 with the critically acclaimed No One Killed Jessica, in which he had a negative role.
“The character I’m playing in Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi is Sadashivrao Bhau who is the commander of the Maratha army. Sadashivrao always accompanies Rani Laxmibai to fight against the Britishers. This role is completely different from what I have played before, and I had to learn horse riding for this. Essaying this role was quite amazing as I have been a part of historical plays earlier,” informed Zeeshan.
Although the actor did not get much time to prepare for the role — as he had to complete the shoot within six days and go to Canada for another shoot — he says that co-director Kangana was quite clear about the character.
“She knew what she wanted. My shots were mainly alone with Britishers or with Kangana, so I didn’t got much time to spend with other actors in the film,” says Zeeshan who was chosen to replace Sonu Sood after the actor left the shoot midway.
The actor was all praise for lead actress Kangana. “Even as an actor and now as a director, I had a great time working with her. I shot for 16 days for Tanu Weds Manu Returns, but most of my scenes were with Kangana – she is a very good co-actor, who believes in sharing the screen with other actors. As a director, I was completely satisfied (with her),” explained Zeeshan.
“Though people were not sure of the kind of environment there would be on the sets, everything was sorted out. Being an actor, she was very clear about what she wanted as a director. Though my take could have been different for the character, I was convinced by what Kangana was saying. She wanted the character to be of a particular style, rather than making it more dramatic. She knew how to control a set,” he added.
Talking about his experience during the shoot he so very enjoyed, Zeeshan says, “The time I spent with Kangana was great. We caught up a long time after Tanu Weds Manu Returns, so we got to discuss many things about the industry and things going on around us.”
Recalling the best compliment he has received till date, the Raees actor said, “I remember what Mahesh Bhatt said. He said , ‘You are a very special person. You have the quality of empathising other characters and other people, so you are very special; don’t change.’ I think that was a great compliment as an actor as well as a human being.”
In an earlier interview Zeeshan had revealed that he still holds the record for the highest individual acting awards – he had 17 at Kirorimal College, Delhi University. With regards to that, when he was asked if he had expectations of getting an award for his performance in Manikarnika, he said, “I think that’s a different thing… I had come down to become a star, but after I saw Manoj Bajpayee’s performance in Aks, I realised I knew nothing about acting. I don’t expect anything from any film. I just want it go well as I’m a part of it.”
Produced by Zee Studios, and Kamal Jain, and directed by Krish and Kangana Ranaut, Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi is set to release on January 25.