Bollywood dream comes true for Abu Dhabi-based actor Taaha Shah

The actor discusses the challenges he had to face as an outsider trying to make it in the Hindi film industry, and his joy at landing a role in Baar Baar Dekho alongside Katrina Kaif and Sidharth Malhotra.

A scene from Baar Baar Dekho starring actor Taaha Shah (in yellow top). Courtesy Box Office Events
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Born and raised in Abu Dhabi, Taaha Shah has spent years trying to break into one of the world's most competitive film industries – and all the hard work might finally be paying off. Shah got his first taste of the big-screen in the 2011 film Luv Ka The End, and was also seen in 2013's Gappi. Now he is appearing alongside two of Bollywood's biggest stars, Katrina Kaif and Sidharth Malhotra, in Dharma productions' Baar Baar Dekho, which was released last week.

We caught up with him to find out more about how he landed the role and what it was like to work with Bollywood A-listers.

Tell us about your role in the movie.

aI play a supporting character, Tarun, who is the younger brother of Sidharth Malhotra’s character. He is the life of the family. Sidharth’s character is a very staunch and logical person, whereas I am playful and free-spirited. When you watch the film, you will see that Tarun is the person who tries to keep the family together.

How did you land the role?

I did about five auditions. Almost six months after my first audition, I got a call from them saying that they liked me but they had changed the scenes, and wanted me to come in for a second audition. When they gave me a second shot, I worked even harder and added a bit more flair to my performance. It took about nine months by the time I landed the role.

How did you feel when you found out?

I was a little shocked because I thought they would go with someone who was a little more established. As a relative outsider, to be given the chance to be part of such a big film, one of the most-awaited films of the year, was just such a surreal experience.

What did you think when you realised you would be working with Kaif and Malhotra, who are big stars?

An opportunity to work with the top stars means that everyone is going to watch this film. It made me feel that this is the time when I really have to show my best – and to them, I had to show not just what I am as an actor, but also as a person off-screen.

What were they like to work with?

Sidharth is actually a very cool guy. I met him at rehearsals and right from the start he was very respectful and very down-to-earth. Katrina is one of the biggest stars that we have. I met her for the first time in London for the shoot. At first I used to keep my distance because I didn’t want to make her feel uncomfortable. But the thing about her is that she will approach you herself in her own time – and when that happened, we started bonding. I really like her sense of humour. She’s really funny, and has these certain quirks. Both of them are amazing people to work with and I would love to work with them again.

What challenges did you face in Bollywood as somewhat of an outsider, having gone to Mumbai from Abu Dhabi?

I am not somewhat of an outsider, I am completely an outsider. That brings with it pros and cons. Doors don’t open as easily, connections are not made easily, you have to really work hard and pretty much be in the right place at the right time. Those are the very things that made me headstrong and made me capable of handling rejections better, and made me stronger and more confident as an actor and as a person.