Shantanu Maheshwari recalls his first meeting with Sanjay Leela Bhansali for Gangubai Kathiawadi, says 'told myself, ‘Don’t say anything stupid!’'

Shantanu Maheshwari made his big Bollywood debut opposite Alia Bhatt in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Gangubai Kathiawadi. He plays the role of Afsaan, who falls in love with Gangubai, a sex worker from Kamathipura. As Shantanu is impressing the audience with his performance in the film, he spoke to a human interest portal on Instagram.

Sharing his journey, Shantanu told the portal, "I come from a middle-class Marwari family where for ‘stability’ one pursues being a CA. However, I had always been passionate about dance. In fact, as a kid, I had even participated in Boogie-Woogie & Mini Superstar. Still, I never thought of taking it up professionally until I moved to Bombay for college. In college, I used to participate in a lot of fests. One of the fests where I was performing was for Channel V India Fest in Phoenix Mall.

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Talking about bagging the popular television show Dil Dosti Dance, Shantanu said, "The crew of Dil Dosti Dance was looking out for dancers & I was spotted. That’s it! That’s how I got my 1st show - Dil Dosti Dance. Palki Malhotra, the maker of the show, spotted my talent & gave me the role of ‘Swayam’. I was there for 4 years. Oh what glorious years; I grew up there. I was just 19, I used to shoot in the morning & do dance rehearsals at night. I followed the same schedule with my studies daily. My routine would take a toll on me at times, but I was living the dream, there was no time to complain. My mother was happier than me. She was a dancer, & seeing me in front of the camera was her dream. So, once I had made & saved enough money, I bought a car & gave the keys to Maa, she cried.The response the show got was great! During one interview, I mentioned my love for handcrafted gifts. Oh, God! Bas bolne ki der thi, I got so many gifts after that! I’d often question myself, ‘Am I worthy of this love?’"

Opening up about his first meeting with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Shantanu added, "After, I gave many auditions, tried my hand at short films & reality shows. When I was doing dancing projects people thought I wasn’t an actor & when I did acting projects people were skeptical about my dance. I wasn’t getting that one opportunity that could establish me as an artist. So I just kept doing what I got. And then one day, back in 2019, I got a call for an audition for a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film. I could not believe it. I still remember meeting Sanjay Sir for the first time, he observed my features for the camera while I continuously told myself, ‘Don’t say anything stupid!’ But this film has been a learning experience. What overwhelms me however is when I hear people tell me, ‘We’ve watched you grow.’ But at the same time, I know this is just the start, abhi toh aur bahut kuch sikhna hai…"

(Source: Humans of Bombay)