Sanjay Mishra on his upcoming film Kaamyaab: 'Interesting characters cannot be bought'
Sanjay Mishra made his Bollywood debut with Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Oh Darling Yeh Hai India (1995), and now has the superstar producing his upcoming film Kaamyaab.
Life has come full circle for the versatile and immensely talented actor Sanjay Mishra known for strong, soulful performances. A National School of Drama (NSD) graduate who made his Bollywood debut with Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Oh Darling Yeh Hai India (1995), now has the superstar producing Mishra’s upcoming film Kaamyaab featuring latter as the main protagonist.
Kaamyaab, that talks about the struggle of junior artistes, revolves around the life of character actor ‘Sudheer’ essayed by Mishra, who aspires to be remembered like other veteran character actors like Pran, Lalita Pawar and Shakti Kapoor. Kaamyaab - a tribute to supporting artistes, also has a talented bunch of iconic actors retelling their life to the audience.
Produced by SRK’s Red Chillies Entertainment and helmed by National Award winning director, Hardik Mehta, the film will make its way to the theatres on 6 March. Excerpts from an interview with Mishra:
How close are you to this character Sudheer?
Somebody saw the trailer and wrote that many actors like me will cry after watching it. It is the story of our trade, an actor’s story, so it is very close to me. This is the story which needs recognition for itself and the actors, because everyone wants to be recognised for what they do, no matter what walks of life they come from, whether sports or journalism and not just cinema or acting.
Did the journey of the character you essay in Kaamyaab touch you on a personal level?
Yes, of course, it did. My character in the film is shown struggling to do his 500th film in that old age..so it is very close to me. I repeatedly say that Amitabh Bachchan still goes to work every day, whereas, the other actors of his generation and era are more into property, money, farmhouse.. That is why Mr Bachchan is perennially young. People often ask what do you want to tell the youth. What is youth? Youth is Amitabh Bachchan and not some young man lying drunk somewhere. Kaamyaabi or success doesn’t necessarily mean that thousands of people are running after you for an autograph, to me it means self-satisfaction.
You had once said that you don’t want awards but you want the audience..
Yes, I had said this about the National Award which is presented by the government. It is the duty of the Information and Broadcasting (I & B) ministry to reach good films to the audience. I featured in a film called Turtle. It was made by a guy from Gujarat and it talked about water crisis. He could have made a commercial film to draw audience and to make money. But he makes a film on water crisis and he is given a National award. But it is not just about giving away the award, it is important that the film reaches public. It should be shown in schools so that children understand what is water crisis and learn to save water at an early age. We recently saw scarcity of water in many parts of Mumbai. It is not just about giving awards.
You have been a part of many notable films like Ankhon Dekhi, Kadvi Hawa..you think these films were given recognition?
Ankhon Dekhi was ignored and Kadvi Hawa got a special mention at the National award. But films like these should be taken to people. Today Shah Rukh is doing what ideally our government should be doing. His films have earned crores, where was the need for him to present a small film like Kaamyaab? But he has taken a stand for small films.
What difference does it make to a film with Shah Rukh Khan presenting it?
The trailer would have received only 6,000 views, but as Shah Rukh Khan came in, views notched up to 30,000 and then to 85,000.With Shah Rukh presenting it there is a lot of curiosity around the film. Perhaps the struggle of reaching it to people would have been much longer without him being part of it.
You have been working in Bollywood for several years now, how satisfied are you as an actor?
Earlier directors would ask, ‘Oye, there is a dialogue, will you be able to say it?’ And I would say, ‘Certainly..’ But this city (Mumbai) makes you ‘Sir’ within no time and you don’t even realise it. So, today when they call me ‘Sanjay Sir’, I feel a bit satisfied. But yes, when it comes to money and earnings, it is your destiny. Some people do nothing and still make money, whereas, some work lifetime and yet run behind EMIs. But I have never worked for money; I have done few films for free also. I never taken money for short films that I do. But the character I get to play in those short films is not something I get in a feature film. So that thirst to portray that character is not in earning money. Interesting characters cannot be bought.
But certain character actors in the past were considered more, or as important as the heroes..
The end in Kaamyaab shows that finally it is all about the hero – superstar who can sell the film. But yes, Pran must have really enjoyed that phase. He has played so many characters and at that time even the heroes must be feeling insecure of him. Then, there was Mehmood — heroes would wait for him to come on set. Iftekhar, A K Hangal were huge those days. I was playing the role of a blind man in one of the films and my director told me the reference point should be Hangal from Sholay.
You have done comedies like Golmaal, Total Dhamaal, and films like Kadvi Hawa. On one side you do commercial films and on the other hand something completely unconventional. What do you enjoy the most?
I just enjoy acting. There is a T-20 and there is a test match. In T-20 you have to hit sixers and fours, you have to get run in every ball but in test match you have to stand on the pitch for five days. After doing a serious role in Kaamyaab, I will be shooting Bhool Bhulaiyaa with Aneez Bazmee. I want to challenge myself at such time. But if it is Kadvi Hawa I will take my own sweet time in understanding my part, there is no hurry. It is like wasting one full overs and not taking a single run (laughs).
What do you look in a film before saying yes?
Director comes first for me. I never read the script though. I didn’t read Kaamyaab’s script. I don’t believe in that hard copy that they usually talk about because the writer takes two to three years to write and I will read in two to three hours and say let’s change this or that. The director should narrate the script to me. When I was listening to Kaamyaab’s script I could see the film in my head. Then you know what you should be doing in the film. I also start thinking about how would the cameraman present me, my mood..
Next should always be different. I will be doing Gwalior (social thriller with Neena Gupta), Holy Cow ( a satire), Death on a Sunday — all these films are very different from each other. But the game-changing film is yet to happen for me.
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