Sushant Singh tells Jyothi Venkatesh that Salman Khan is the only star who can come, fart on the screen and get away with it.
Q. How would you describe your role in Hulla?
A. My role as Raj Shiv Puri in Hulla is that of a very simple dal roti stock broker in a medium sized local dealing firm. Raj is aggressive, innovative and also pro active, while Kartikadevi Rane plays my good natured, even tempered wife, whom tolerates all my protestations and complaints about the seemingly trivial problem with a smile. I shared a good chemistry on screen with Kartika, who had earlier acted in the serial Hum Pardesi Ho Gaye with Ashish Chowdhary and Perizaad Zorabian.
Q. What is Hulla about?
A. Hulla is basically about Raj’s attempts to put an end to a simple problem at his residence- of the night watchman whistling in his building compound at night, leading to his not getting sleep at all. His cajoling, protestations and complaint even to the police lead to nothing and the flippant attitude of the people around him to his problem, coupled with his sleep- deprivation gradually unhinges him.
Q. What appealed to you about the film that you decided to take it up?
A. To tell the truth, considering the fact that real stories about real people rarely get told these days in Indian cinema in spite of the richness of diversity in India’s city life, I found that Hulla is an attempt to fill that gap and yet maintain a universal accessibility through concerns, characters and tone. As director Jaideep Varma said, the contemporary sensibility of the film should be relatable anywhere in the world, whether it is Mumbai or for that matter Manhattan.
Q. Isn’t the role quite in contrast to your role as a villain in Mukhbir?
A. Raj in Hulla is dynamically different from that of Pasha in Mukhbir. There was a kind of excitement in the character of the shooter Pasha, who had the backdrop of the underworld of Hyderabad. Mani Shankar had done the research on his subject for two years. More than my role, I liked the story of Mukhbir. Mani gave me the bound script. It took me one hour to listen to it. You start visualizing when you read an interesting script.
Q. How tough was it to play the complex character of Pasha in Mukhbir?
A. There was absolutely no reference point to my character in Mukhbir, which was much more mature than my character in Mani Shankar’s December 16. The tone of my character was set by showing me massaging the sexy widowed daughter of the mukhya.
Q. Which are your forthcoming films?
A. I have up my sleeves films like Sunando’s Idiot Box, Sanjay Chauhan’s Lahore, T.K. Rajeev Kumar’s Free Kick, Vincent Lewis’s Shout, Vinay Shukla’s Mirch and last but not the least Ramesh Katkar’s Toss.
Q. What is your role in Idiot Box?
A. In Idiot Box, I play the role of the creative head of a TV production house -Shubrojeet Chakraborty, who thinks that he is very smart but apni chaalakhi mein ulajh jaata hain. Hrishitaa Bhatt plays my wife who hates TV. Everything about TV is idiotic but still we sit and surf channels which have become part of our lives. It is an out and out hilarious film in which Jyoti Gaba plays the character of Anekta Kapoor which is a spoof on Ekta Kapoor.
Q. What is your role in Lahore?
A.I play the positive role of a kick boxer in Lahore. To get into the skin of my character in Lahore, I trained in kick boxing for three months. In Lahore, my co-actors are Vikas Khatkar, Shradha Nigam, Shradha Das, Mukesh Rishi and Farouque Shaikh.
Q. Are you playing the role of a kick boxer in Free Kick too?
A. Free Kick belongs to an entirely different genre and is about medicine mafia and how the common man is trapped in the vicious medicine system. Rajeev Kumar has also directed the Govinda starrer Chal Chala Chal produced by Jhamu Sugandh and Priyadarshan.
Q. Is Shout a horror film?
A. Shout directed by Vincent Lewis isn’t a horror film, but a supernatural thriller with Sayali Bhagat and I in the main lead and Ashish Vidyarthi and Seema Biswas as our co-stars.
Q. What is Mirch about?
A. All that I can say is that I have an interesting role in Mirch directed by Vinay Shukla, which is an ensemble film with Ranveer Sheorey and Konkana Sen Sharma.
Q. Are you playing a villain in Toss?
A. Toss is a pure thriller. What is interesting about Toss is that all the actors are playing negative roles in it though Mahesh Manjrekar and I play the main villains. The film has Ashmit Patel, Prashant Raj, VJ Ranvijay, Aarti Chhabria and two new actresses.
Q. What irks you about the film industry?
A.My grouse is that no producer approaches talented actors like me or Om Puri with a three film package deal for 40 crores and no one questions the stars who appear in a film like Tahan which flops at the box office. The tragedy today is that stardom does not require acting. Today no one goes to see Salman Khan thinking he would act fabulously. You only go to see his style or personality. Salman is the only one who can come on screen, fart and get away with it.
Q. Does it mean that you regret not being paid in crores like Salman Khan or SRK?
A. I know for fact that today I can demand only a certain price because the producers know that though I can invest a film with my talent, I cannot influence a distributor in any territory because of my popularity.
Q. How insecure are you as an actor in spite of being talented?
A. Insecurity is a part of any actor’s life. I try not to be insecure. After Satya, I do not have even a single super hit to my credit.
Q. How would you evaluate your growth as an actor?
A. I made my debut way back in 1996 with Dr Jabbar Patel’s Dr Ambedkar, in which I had two scenes as Ambedkar’s room-mate Asnodkar from London. I have to my credit 38 released films including Hulla. I am fortunate to have grown up slowly and steadily in the film industry. I am glad that my directors like Ram Gopal Varma, Rajkumar Santoshi, Mani Shankar etc have repeated me in their films. I have realized that if you are a good actor, no director would like to misuse your talent in the film industry.
Q. Why did you quit acting in TV after Viruddh?
A. After acting in two serials- Dhadkan and Viruddh, I quit TV because I realized that working hours burn you out on TV. You have to strike the right balance between what you get per day and what you have to do one day on TV. The plus point about TV is that today whether you are an actor or a technician, in one year you can buy a flat of one crore just by working in TV serials.
Q. Which according to you are your five memorable films?
A. I think I am fortunate that I can count films like Satya, Jungle, Bhagat Singh, 16 December and Sehar as my five best films till date as an actor. I was very disappointed when my films like Sehar and Bhagat Singh did not click at the box office, though my performance was appreciated by both the critics as well as the audience.