Ishaan Khatter vividly remembers the moment he bagged the lead role in Iranian director Majid Majidi’s Hindi film Beyond the Clouds.

“I met Majidi sir and had a brief discussion with him and he later wanted me to do a mood shoot and gave me a brief about the character,” the 22-year-old actor said. “I was sleeping when I got the call from the casting director. He told me to go to the roof of my building and shout with happiness as I was going to act in a Majidi film. All of this happened within a day.”

Majidi’s first Indian production traces the relationship between 18-year-old Amir and his elder sister Tara (Malavika Mohanan). Produced by Namah Pictures and Zee Studios, the film will be released on April 20.

“Amir’s emotional core lies with Tara,” Khatter said. “At a very young age, due to circumstances, he leaves her house and starts fending for himself. He is a hustler on the streets and finds ways to make a living. He is ambitious and enterprising.”

The script was tight, with the characters etched out with so much ease that Majidi did not have to brief Khatter, the actor said. “It was all written into the script and it was fairly easy to draw from,” he said. “The history of the characters is very strong.” Apart from losing a few kilos to look the part, Khatter’s preparation included sticking around the sets for longer than necessary. “I just spent as much time as I possibly could even on days I wasn’t required, just to see how he [Majidi] creates the world that he does, and understand the film as a whole.”

Beyond the Clouds (2018).

The film revolves around the relationship between siblings – a recurring theme in Majidi’s films, especially the globally acclaimed Children of Heaven (1999). “It is a very interesting relationship that is under-explored in films,” Khatter said. “It is a very strong bond and a deep form of love. He has explored that in some of his previous films as well, but this is a very different take in this film. It is an opportunity for an actor to explore platonic forms of love.”

The film is not merely an exploration of sibling dynamics. “The film is about relationships in general, and you learn more once you see the film,” Khatter said. “Every day was a learning experience. The values that he has taught me will stay with me for all my life.”

Khatter will next be seen in Dhadak, the Hindi remake of Nagraj Manjule’s Marathi blockbuster Sairat (2016). Directed by Shashank Khaitan and co-starring Jhanvi Kapoor, Dhadak will be released on July 6.

Dhadak. Image credit: Dharma Productions.