I didn’t learn dialogues, just followed the young actors to make it look relatable: Sanjay Mishra on 36 Farmhouse

'When actors put in so much effort to learn dialogues, they often forget the emotions,' says 36 Farmhouse actor Sanjay Mishra.

Eshita Bhargava January 19, 2022 14:35:32 IST
I didn’t learn dialogues, just followed the young actors to make it look relatable: Sanjay Mishra on 36 Farmhouse

Actor Sanjay Mishra

In over three decades of his career, actor Sanjay Mishra has played many roles. Mishra, mostly known for his comedic timing, has always tried to not get stereotyped. Be it his role as Chandragupta Sir, a teacher, in Hip Hip Hurray or his portrayal of Shukla in Office Office, or the most recent Netflix film KaamyaabMishra has made us laugh and sometimes cry with his films. He came to Mumbai from his hometown Benaras in search of work and saw the light through every hazy tunnel.

A few would know, after innumerable appearances, there was a time when the actor had quit Bollywood and chose to work at a Dhaba for a salary of Rs 150. It was director Rohit Shetty who urged Mishra to return to acting with All the Best and there has been no looking back ever since then. The talented actor will next be seen in the Zee5 Original film 36 Farmhouse that also stars Vijay Raaz, Amol Parashar, Flora Saini, Barkha Singh, Madhuri Bhatia, and Ashwini Kalsekar in significant roles. The film will stream on ZEE5 on 21 January. The film has been written by Subhash Ghai, known for directing films like Ram Lakhan, Khalnayak, Pardes among others.

In this interview, Sanjay Mishra speaks about his character, working with Subhash Ghai, career, choices he has made over the years, the joy of acting, and the importance of being present in the moment. Excerpts from the conversation:

Tell us something about 36 Farmhouse and your character in it?

I have always looked up to Subhash Ghai sir and getting a chance to work with him has been an experience. He has directed such big films, and naturally, any actor would want to work with a director like him. It’s a fun character that I’ll be playing. Masti dena waala character hai. I am playing the role of Jai Prakash, a migrant worker, who finds himself in various situations. 

How is it going to be different from what we’ve seen from you?

36 Farmhouse is a unique family drama where all the characters can be easily found in every Indian family. It is highly relatable and can surely be enjoyed by all age groups. The film is different because it is written by Subhash Ghai. He ensures to keep his films different from one another. It depends on the director and writer as to how they bring out something unique in the character. It’s a humorous take on situations. Maza aaega.

According to you, how is Subhash Ghai a different director, writer?

He understands cinema, characters. That’s rare. Subhash Ghai has built his audience and they follow his work. Be it his scripts, or songs – it’s all unique. He is an institute in himself.

I didnt learn dialogues just followed the young actors to make it look relatable Sanjay Mishra on 36 Farmhouse

How was it working with the new actors?

Mein abhi bhi issi generation ka hoo. I am young (Laughs). If millennials are loving my work, then I am from this generation. Right? I become a different person between new actors. I start following them. I then work differently following their perspectives. I never read the script or learn dialogues. It has to be natural. I didn’t learn it for 36 Farmhouse, as well. The new actors have too much to prove and that’s the reason they give their best. Kuch naya nikal k aata hai jab kisi naye actor k sath kaam ho.

Why don’t you learn dialogues?

See, when actors put in so much effort to learn dialogues, they often forget the emotions. If I’ll go on the sets with a preconceived notion about the scene, my co-stars are coming with their perspectives, how are we going to create magic? If I know the story, understand the psychology of the character I am playing, then I don’t need to learn dialogues. I would follow my instincts and the chemistry. 

Do you remember your first day in Mumbai?

1:45 pm, Pashchim Express train – Delhi to Mumbai. I also came with many dreams. I reached my cousin’s one-room house in Borivali. I got my local train pass made just to explore Bombay, visit places where Devanand Sahab must have sung songs, or Amitabh Bachchan Ji must have touched the walls. The first few years were difficult as I didn’t get work. But it has been a journey. 

How important is it to play the lead?

If the role is sensitive, meaningful and you as an actor can hold your audience – It’s a lead role for you. If you cannot connect with your audience, the lead role doesn’t matter. The audience should watch the film because you are in it. 

Comedy is one of the most difficult genres but you do it brilliantly. Tell us something about that.

It’s a myth – Comedy is not difficult. The question is if you understand the genre. People tell me, ‘Sir ap jo palat k look dete hai na, use dekh k mein hass hass k marr gaya tha. But that was not the part of the script, but an addition from my side. If you understand the character’s subtext, you can make people laugh. People appreciate my work and I ensure to add reliability to the characters in my movies.

Do you think you’ve been stereotyped? 

Not at all. I got saved. Actors need work and during their initial years of struggle, they often take whatever comes their way. I also did that, but films like Phas Gae Re Obama, Kadwi Hawa, Ankho Dekhi, Masaan, Kaamyaab saved me from getting stuck into this stereotype of being just a comedy actor. I consciously say yes to scripts that are different. As an actor, new roles excite me.  

Any BTS moments from 36 farmhouse?

Things changed when Subhash Ghai Ji was on the sets. His aura is different. He used to call me ‘young old man’ to boost me up. We used to have lunch together – it was like a party. I was with my family throughout the shoot. 

Are we going to see a cameo from Subhash Ghai?

I have requested, but he said, “I used to do that in the films I directed, but this one I have written.” However, we insisted on him and the audience is also waiting to watch him. So, maybe he’ll surprise us?

Do you think OTT platforms are a game-changer?

For sure, it’s a game-changer. It’s an evolution – we used to just have Chitrahaar and then moved to daily soaps. With OTT, you can watch it anytime – Car mein bhi dekh sakte hai, Bekaar mein bhi dekh sakte hai, ghar pe bhi dekh sakte hai, ghoomte hue bhi dekh sakte hai… People have got a variety of content to choose from. One drawback would be – people will no longer go to the theatres and that would impact cinema. It is a cultural shock for us. 

Any advice you would give to the younger Sanjay Mishra?

Khud chal, khud ko jaan, aur jaan. Waha mat jaa jahan tujhe nakli banna pade. Appreciate what God has given you and don’t try to imitate anyone else. Better yourself every day and never give up.

How do you deal with criticism?

You get happy when people appreciate you. So, you should be happy when someone is criticising you for the right reasons.

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