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.
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)