Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput tasted success with his first film, ‘Kai Po Che’, but his recent movie, ‘M S Dhoni: The Untold Story’ has made him a star rocketing the movie into the `100 crore club. However, the actor is not enamoured with its success as he anticipated it. Simultaneously he doesn’t let failure depress him as he is totally in love with his craft – acting. In a candid chat with NT BUZZ, he speaks about IFFI, his movie, the process of acting, demonetisation and more
ARTI DAS | NT BUZZ
- How does it feel being a guest at the 47th IFFI?
This is my second time at IFFI. First, I came here as a delegate in the year 2008-09 and now as a guest. However, the passion for films is the same. It feels great to be associated with Indian’s biggest and possibly Asia’s oldest film festival. Actually I even wanted to watch a few movies but I have a shoot in Mumbai on Monday. So I will just watch the opening film.
- Your recently released movie, ‘MS Dhoni – The Untold Story’ is considered one of the biggest hits of the year and it also generated a revenue of more than `100 crores. Were you anticipating its success?
The day I signed this film, I knew that since Dhoni was immensely popular people would look forward to it. Director, Neeraj Pandey makes films that are always engaging, and as an actor I was following Dhoni and his cricket for many years and always wanted to play his character. So I had a fair idea about its success.
- There were many reports on how you prepared for the role, right from learning techniques of cricket to getting the body language right. Was this easier as you were already Dhoni’s fan?
When it comes to preparation for a character, I never face any difficulty. The process is interesting and yes, sometimes you are not sure about it. But, as an actor you are supposed to do it. It is your job at the end of the day.
It doesn’t help if it is a fictional character or real, once you do your homework, it sits properly.
- Did you make any extra efforts to look like Dhoni and at the same time to not imitate him?
Imitating Dhoni was never on the agenda. The visuals of the character were clear which is his mannerism, the way he talks, plays and when you interact with that character or a person, the brain picks up these visuals subconsciously. To understand the character you have to go back and forth on your research material. Talk to the person and director repeatedly. You can’t put a finger on one thing and say that particular thing will help, you are so immersed in that character for such a long time that you then feel very comfortable thinking you are that character. I think that’s the key.
- Your previous movie, ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshy’ also required a lot of preparation and in a way was also a biopic as is ‘MS Dhoni’. How do you perceive this genre? Is it different to play biopics as compared to regular fiction?
All characters that I have played, I have looked at them the same way. My character in my first film, ‘Kai Po Che’ was entirely fictional, the character of Byomkesh is fictional but that many actors have enacted in films and serials. And in ‘Dhoni’ I portrayed a character that is still playing. So, my approach to all these characters is the same. You have to look at them as real people and find the bridge between you and that character. You need to convince yourself that the character you are playing is real. That’s how you will play it.
- After the success of ‘Kai Po Che’, many compared you to Shahrukh Khan as he also started his career with theatre, television and then movies. How do you look at this comparison? Do you think people are now taking TV actors seriously?
Regarding comparison, I think you always want to see a pattern when it comes to an actor’s success. And after Shahrukh it was Vidya Balan who came from TV and made it big in movies. With regard to TV actors, for some reasons in-between actors could not make it big in films. I selected my first film as I liked it and it became a hit. We all tried to make sense of everything. As an actor you do the same irrespective of the medium.
- But in theatre there is room for improvisation?
There is certain level of preparation that leads one to a level to get that parameter. You screen out things that are not ‘the characters’. We do homework on getting out things which are not of the actor. What is the character is what we play or the shot we give. In every film shot I am constantly improvising until I get to the level where one is completely unaware as an actor.
- What are your views on the issue of demonetisation as it directly affects the box office?
Yes, demonetisation is affecting the box office. But it is affecting every kind of purchasing capacity. In this case, action is relevant in its context and if the intent is right we need to put up with this.