Sham Kaushal is one of the biggest stunt choreographers in the country, with him having supervised the action scenes for films such as Dangal, Padmaavat, Dhoom 3 and Bajirao Mastaani. While off late he’s more known for being Vicky Kaushal’s dad, very few people are aware that the action director started his career in Mollywood with Mohanlal’s Indrajalam.
He has now also been roped in for helming a period film in Malayalam, the Mammootty-starrer Maamaankam. On doing a big budget period film in Malayalam, Sham says, “I started my career in Malayalam; my first big break was through Indrajalam and it was followed by Yodha. There were always offers to work in Malayalam but it didn’t work out due to the dates but when the makers of Maamaankam narrated the script to me, I found it interesting and wanted to make myself free to be part of the project. There’s so much I can do and explore in this kind of film.”
Incidentally, Sham’s period-film journey also began with a Malayali filmmaker. “I must thank Malayali directors for roping me into period films. My first such film was Asoka, which was directed by Santosh Sivan. Because of my work in the movie, I got to collaborate with Sanjay Leela Bhansali from Devdas onwards,” he says.
On if her prefers such movies over the big-budget action entertainers such as Dhoom 3, Krrish 3 and PK, he says, “Period films are challenging because everything has to be created from scratch and as a stunt director you need to plan a lot as it’s different from the normal films and so much VFX is also involved. Before we start the shoot itself, everything must be pre-visualised as you are handling so many variables including people, animals and weapons, and are also in-charge of the safety.”
On another reason he chose to be part of Maamaankam, Sham says, “It has a lot of action but the movie is content-driven; there’s not a single stunt sequence just for action’s sake. It’s all interwoven with the story.”
Sham had first collaborated with Mammootty 22 years ago in the megastar’s Bollywood debut Dharthiputra. “I didn’t find any change when I met him; he’s still that energetic person and still has that passion for doing movies,” he says.
On his son Vicky’s rise as a star, the action director says, “I am proud of him, and at the same time, I feel humbled. I came from a poor family in Punjab, and I had nothing when I came to Mumbai. But today, I thank God for all the blessings that he has showered on me and my family. Vicky is lucky that he has been getting good directors and team to work with, at the end of the day films are all about teamwork and not just an individual’s effort.”
While Vicky’s latest release URI: The Surgical Strike is going strong in the box office, both father and son has another reason to cheer about. “Before the film, everybody used to ask Vicky, ‘You are an action director’s son, but you haven’t slapped anyone in your films. Why?’ After URI, both of us are happy because he did an action movie and did it well too,” says Sham. “The action sequences of the movie were so authentic. That’s something I hold dear because I have always believed that action should be part of the narrative and not a standalone aspect. URI’s scenes didn’t celebrate its hero and you don’t see Vicky doing any stunts that are over the top. So, it makes it all believable.”