Actor Aashim Gulati, who is gearing up for the second season of the historical fiction streaming show 'Taj: Divided by Blood', has revealed that sharing the screen with an actor of Naseeruddin Shah's stature did make him feel nervous but he overcame the nervousness by tricking his mind into believing that he was just serving a character and drawing from Naseer's character.
Aashim portrays the role of Salim, the son to Naseer's character of Akbar in the series.
The second season will take a leap of 15 years after the end of the first season, and will chart Salim's journey from being the exiled enemy of the Mughal Empire to seeking blood and revenge in an attempt to become the next emperor.
Reflecting on his experience of working with Shah, the actor said, "From the very first reading of the script to the time I finished shooting, I felt a mix of nervousness and intimidation. I knew that I had to bring my A-game to the table and couldn't afford to fumble. However, it was more like Salim standing in front of Akbar, rather than Aashim standing in front of Naseer sir."
He further mentioned, "It wasn't Naseer sir who was intimidating, but his body of work that made me feel a bit edgy. To ease my nerves, I hoodwinked my mind to believe that it is 'Salim and Akbar', not Aashim and Naseer sir in a face-off. That helped me stay focused on my character and therefore the performance."
He also revealed that he wouldn't have been able to play the role of Salim three years back, but now it's the right place that he is in.
He also shared that the show is not comparable to the Indian epic of 'Mughal-e-Azam', as it's a pure family drama and he has not even touched the surface of the greats, who have played Salim in the past.
Talking about his role as Salim, Aashim said that he wants to bring his own flavours to the character and not make it a caricature.
He said, "We have received so much love for Season 1 and now Season 2 is a progression of many years. I have tried to bring my own flavours to the character while keeping the essence of the history intact. It's my baby, and I have nurtured it till the release. After that, it's for the audience to see and judge. I am grateful for this opportunity and can't wait for the audience to see the show. Also playing a father for the first time in my life was an interesting experience, and I hope to do justice to the character."
The actor also opened up about his past choices of working in television, saying that he didn't want to turn down any opportunities and aimed to achieve both financial stability and creative satisfaction.
He also shared that he once lost a job to someone who had a larger social media following than him, and that experience taught him to adapt to the changing times by improving his social media presence.
Season 2 of 'Taj - Divided by Blood', will start streaming on ZEE5 from May 12.