Rohit Saraf found a sort of closure when he played Zaira Wasim’s brother, Ishaan Chaudhary, in the recently released The Sky Is Pink. “I lost my dad when I was 11. I couldn’t imagine living without him. So the moment I heard the story it connected with me,” he says. This Shonali Bose directorial is based on the family of motivational speaker Aisha Chaudhary, who died in 2015 at the age of 18 after being diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. “I read everything I could find about Aisha. I watched all her videos. I got extremely attached to her,” says the 22-year-old actor revealing how he prepared for the the emotionally-wrenching role. Rohit even met Aisha’s real brother before the shoot to prepare himself.
For Shonali too, the film is semi-autobiographical. Her 16-year-old son, Ishaan, died in a freak accident in 2010. With so much emotional investment in the story, which itself is based on a true story, it doesn’t surprise that the film has won such acclaim. Co-produced by Ronnie Screwvala, Siddharth Roy Kapur and Priyanka Chopra, the film stars Zaira Wasim as Aisha Chaudhary, while Priyanka and Farhan Akhtar play her parents.Rohit recounts the first time he met Priyanka. The camera rolled and he was placed between Priyanka and Farhan. They were to pretend they were family. Priyanka gently helped the nervous youngster “She told me to understand where my character was coming from, that’s all. The way she spoke to me calmed me down,” he shares. Farhan too helped him allay his fears. “He started talking to me about my work. Soon my fears evaporated,” he smiles.
He bonded well with screen ‘sister’ Zaira Wasim. “At first, I kept looking at her and she kept looking at me. Then she asked me if I was feeling as awkward as she was. I said yes. That broke the ice,” he grins. “We were like two kids on the set. We would put snow inside people’s shirts,” he laughs. While he was initially shocked by Zaira’s decision of quitting films, he realised it was her choice and she should be respected for that. “It’s like someone telling me that you cannot like chocolate ice-cream. I like chocolate ice-cream. That’s my choice. So not doing films is her choice,” he asserts.
Rohit dropped out of school after the tenth grade and left Delhi to come to Mumbai in 2012. He began appearing in ads and also bagged Channel V’s show, Best Friends Forever (BFF) in 2013, followed by Ek Boond Ishq and the The Big F among others. But television proved to be an excruciating experience. “Imagine shooting for 15 hours at a stretch. It was traumatic. I wanted to quit,” he recalls adding that it was his mother, who urged him to stay steadfast.
Eventually, Rohit bagged Banana (2017), produced by John Abraham. But it never got released. Rohit’s dream of appearing on the big screen was fulfilled with Gauri Shinde’s Dear Zindagi starring Alia Bhatt and Shah Rukh Khan. Rohit played Alia’s younger brother, Kiddo. “I loved the journey of Dear Zindagi.
I remember after a shot Gauri saying, ‘Oh my God! I want to adopt Rohit’!” smiles the young actor, who shared a good rapport with Alia. “It wasn’t difficult playing Alia’s brother as I have three sisters at home.”
He then played an unruly student in the Rani Mukerji starrer Hichki, his second film. After that he landed a Norwegian film, What Will People Say, directed by Iram Haq. It highlighted how women from Muslim countries have to battle patriarchal norms. It was selected as Norway’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards.
With The Sky Is Pink, the sky is the limit for him. Reportedly, he will be playing the lead opposite Anandhi in the Tamil romance Enge Andha Vaan and also appear in Anurag Basu’s tentatively titled Ludo. “You don’t know what can get you where. Like Dear Zindagi got me Hichki. Maybe it’ll take time for me to become famous among the masses. But filmmakers do notice a decent performance. You have to be consistent. That’s something I’ve been for seven years.”
Surely, consistency is the first step towards achievement.