Celina Jaitly who makes her comeback in Ram Kamal Mukherjee’s second venture ‘Seasons Greetings’, a tribute to Rituparno Ghosh, after seven years, will be seen romancing debutant actor Azhar Khan. Incidentally, Khan was spotted by Ram Kamal in Pune. “I was in Pune for a Literature festival where I spotted this tall and handsome man, completely disinterested in books looking around for company,” recollects Ram Kamal. The film deals with Celina and Azhar’s love story set in the backdrop of abolishment of Article 377 in India.
“I met Ram Kamal at the event. He was on stage, talking about fitness secrets of Bollywood stars. I knew that he was coming to address at the Literature Festival. I wanted to hear him, because I don’t read books and so I thought if I hear him then it will help me,” says Azhar who is into fitness and sports. “I wanted to meet him but he was surrounded by guests and members from media. I felt shy and left the venue. Just when I was about to leave the premise he spotted me and a volunteer from the Festival called me back stage,” recollects Khan.
Incidentally, he tried his luck in Bollywood few years ago but was cheated by a famous Bollywood personality who promised him a break but disappeared after cheating him. He left the city thinking that it was a complete hoax and gave up on his dream. “When Ram Kamal called me back stage, I was nervous. I had not even read his books, I was wondering if he would ask me anything about his books then I would be embarrassed,” laughs Khan.
But Ram Kamal knew that Azhar is someone who would never read a book. “His eyes would say that. He is too restless to read a book,” says the director. “But I knew I found my Usmaan. He had a raw and rugged look, long hair and lean physique. Someone who can easily win heart with a smile,” he added.
When Ram Kamal mentioned that he wanted to cast him in a film opposite Celina Jaitly, Azhar thought that he was pulling a prank on him. “I knew that he had made a successful film Cakewalk with Esha Deol and I also read about the announcement of his next, but I couldn’t believe that he would consider me for the male lead,” shares Khan.
After that Khan had to go through rounds of meetings and workshops to get into the character of Usmaan. He would travel on weekends from Pune to Mumbai and spend hours with Ram Kamal understanding the mannerisms of the character.
Khan is excited that his debut film will be premiered on Zee 5 and Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan had unveiled the first look of the film. “When Ram Kamal had shared the video message of Bachchan Sir my sister immediately called and asked me to hear the video as Amitji had mentioned my name in it. That’s when I just couldn’t believe my ears and my luck,” he says.
Khan hails from Jhansi and shifted to Mumbai few years ago hoping that he would he a Bollywood break. But soon he realized that this city has more frauds than friends. He didn’t want to return home so he shifted to Pune and started working on real estate business. “I used to follow Ram Kamal on social media, but we never interacted until we met in Pune. After he offered me the role, I met him couple of times in Mumbai. But we became friends once we went on a long drive from Mumbai to Pune. We spoke about everything, and that’s when I literally fell in love with his creativity. Usmaan will always remain special in my life,” says Azhar.
From someone who had given up on his dreams, this was definitely a new beginning. “I keep telling everyone, there are angels in the form of human beings, we just need to meet them once. I found my angel,” avers Khan.
‘Season’s Greetings’ is produced by Aritra Das and Shailendra Kumar under the banner of Assorted Motion Picture and SS1 Entertainment. The film also stars Lillette Dubey and transgender actor Shree Ghatak. The film has been acquired by Zee5 Premium to be premiered in November.