Sonchiriya is a layered and engaging film; I grabbed the chance to do it, reveals Sushant Singh Rajput
Sushant Singh Rajput talks about dacoit films, how he chooses scripts, why he feels he has nothing to lose in show business and how his much-talked about film Chanda Mama Dor Ke is very much still on the cards.
In an industry where ‘outsiders’ easily fall into an image trap after the initial burst, Sushant Singh Rajput is going from strength to strength. Six years into movies and he has often impressed audiences with his choice of roles, so much so that his senior co-stars from his upcoming Abhishek Chaubey-directed dacoit drama Sonchiriya call him a role model for the current generation.
His impressive debut in Kai Po Che! (2013) was followed by equally competent performances in Shuddh Desi Romance (2013), PK (2014), Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! (2015) and MS Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016). The actor, though, wears his stardom lightly. “There is no fear of losing anything. Take everything away from me and I’ll still enjoy it," he says.
With four releases this year, the actor’s career seems to be back on track. While Sonchiriya hits the screens on the 1 March, it will be followed by Karan Johar-produced Drive, directed by Tarun Mansukhani. There's also Dil Bechara, which is the Hindi adaptation of Hollywood's Fault In Our Stars, and Nitesh Tiwari’s Chhicchore for which he is currently shooting in Mumbai.
Excerpts from an exclusive chat with the star:
What was the most defining image of a dacoit or daku you had in mind before doing Sonchiriya?
The image I had of baaghis (rebels) and I understood as dakus largely were of two diametrically opposite kind of understandings. One was coming out of entertaining dramatic films and the second image was by biopics like Bandit Queen and Paan Singh Tomar. What I liked about Sonchiriya was, that the script was so layered and Abhishek’s (Chaubey, director) style of making it was so engaging, dramatic, cinematic and artistic.
When Abhishek was asked why he decided to cast you, he said, ‘Yes, Sushant is an urban, educated, sophisticated boy but he has that desi quality in him’. But were you skeptical about doing the film ever?
Arre, why do you put doubts in my director’s head by asking that question? (laughs out loud). I was thinking of meeting Abhishek for the longest time and when he approached me he was still writing his second draft. He wasn’t sure whether I would be interested nor was I sure if he would finalise me. I just grabbed the offer before either of us changed our mind.
What was the prep like? I heard that you would throw some dust on your face before giving shots.
Well, even that worked in some shots (laughs). Actually I wanted to understand their mentality. I would just listen to my co-stars and react according to what was written in the script. I was just living the moment. I wasn’t thinking much while I was shooting the film.
You have four releases this year…
My films had lot of gap between them because certain films required lot of preparation, say of almost 10 to 11 months; for example Dhoni. So that delayed the release of the film. While you are not doing any other film because of that, the next release also gets delayed. But the films coming up this year were shot two, three, six months apart so they happen to come together. It is not that I have stepped on the gas, or that now I have gotten lucky. I don’t think like that and this is not reason I start looking for projects. There is no fear of losing anything. Take everything away from me and I’ll still enjoy it. If films are taken away from me I can still go back to theatre, or probably do a show on the OTT platform, or then there is television, which is such a powerful medium. Whether in front of the TV camera, or movie camera, or in front of live audience, I can still be that much engaged and excited. That is sorted. I don’t fear losing projects and at the same time I am not frivolous because by now I know how to avoid making mistakes by good planning.
But often there was news about you either quitting a project, or films getting shelved, so you must have lost lot of time due to that.
I always have few options and I am grateful to that. If you have five to six films, one or two will go away because of many parameters. Friday is not the only parameter, things happening from Monday to Thursday are equally important (laughs). There are only two films that I am not part of right now. One is RAW, because dates were not matching and I had to opt out, and Shekhar Kapur’s Paani because it is not happening. But all the other films that were announced are happening. Even Chanda Mama Door Ke, contrary to several reports and rumours, is not shelved, it is very much happening.
How do you choose your roles?
I don’t take things too seriously, I just enjoy my work, I enjoy acting and my life doesn’t depend upon that. I end up paying lot of attention to my character and that is very engaging and fascinating. I know that I have to spend at least four to six months on a film and it is a part of my life. The least I can do is get excited for that time. But excitement can come only when you don’t know how it will pan out.
Coming back to Sonchiriya, you seem to have been fascinated by Bhumi’s character..
Yes, the way she would use the gun...I was watching from a distance. She would pull down the ghunghat to cover her face and then press the trigger. It was so nuanced and it was like, 'I will die but I will go for a kill.' That would give me goose bumps. That was such a beautiful visual representation.
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