Actor Sanjay Mishra, who has delivered impactful performances in a career laced with critically acclaimed as well as commercial films, has scored an ace with his latest movie “Kadvi Hawa” in which he essays a blind and impoverished man. He says essaying such characters comes easily to him.
Excerpts from the interview:
Congrats, another triumph in Kadvi Hawa. Your performance has again been unanimously hailed as magnificent. Was it hard playing blind, impoverished and yet unvanquished?
The weather and the topography we shot in were a challenge. But I am not a stranger to hardships, on screen and off it. I’ve known struggle and challenges for a good 25 years ever since I came to Mumbai, and started with bit roles on television and cinema. I guess playing socio-economically challenged characters comes easily to me. When I travelled from Patna to Delhi to join the National School Of Drama, my father gave me five letters of recommendation to people he considered to be influential. I still have those letters.
What sort of praise are you getting for Kadvi Hawa from your colleagues?
I’ve been so busy shooting my next film day and night that I’ve missed out on many of the golden moments. I’ve never been to Goa for the IFFI (International Film Festival of India). I wanted to be there this time with my director Nila Madhab Panda for the screening of our film. But I couldn’t. Among the colleagues, the one I cherish was the call from Nana Patekar. He called a number of times when I was shooting. Finally, he got pissed off the way only Nana Patekar can. I had to pacify him (laughs). Life is good. I am getting the kind of work my father would have been proud to see me do.
Just a few months back, we saw you spewing nonsense in Golmaal Again. Now you epitomize unfathomable levels of pain, tragedy and social relevance in Kadvi Hawa. How do you balance absurdity with profundity so easily?
That’s what life is, isn’t it, that’s what we all are — a combination of the absurd and the profound. Sometimes we see both the qualities in the same situation. It’s important to recognize that life is to be taken neither too seriously nor too lightly. I put in as much effort into the Golmaal series as I did in Masaan, Ankhon Dekhi, Kadvi Hawa or Anaarkali Of Arrah where I played a sleazy college principal.
You humanized the sleazebag?
Yes, all villains have a core of humanism in them. I am sure even Raavan had it.
The turning point for you is Rajat Kapoor’s Aankhon Dekhi in 2014. We thought you would get the National Award for it.
Abb hum kya bolein National Award ke baare mein? Usske liye danda lekar khada hona padta hai. Akshay Kumar ko mila na… (What can I say about the National Award. One has to stand with a stick for that. Akshay Kumar got it, right)
You’re standing with a stick in Kadvi Hawa.
Toh shayad iss baar mil jaye (Maybe I will get it this time).
Tell me about your next character and film?
It is the biggest challenge of my career. I am playing a character-actor from the 1970s… You know those very talented actors like Iftekhar, Bob Christo, Mac Mohan, Viju Khote, Om Prakash and Kader Khan saab, who added so much to every film but got no recognition? I play one such character actor. The film is called ‘Kamyaab’ and it’s directed by Hardik Mehta. You might have seen his celebrated documentary “Amdavad Ma Famous”. This is his feature film debut and it’s going to be a very special film. I can feel it.
Like all your recent films?
No, this is extra-special. Character actors never got their due in our film industry. Even I was a victim of this. Luckily, I got saved. Do you know the famous line “Hum jahan khade hote hain line wahin se shuru hoti hai”, attributed to (Amitabh) Bachchan saab, was actually mouthed by Bob Christo in Kaalia? I play a character actor based on the actor Sudhir who played small-time villains in the 1970s. This is the story of his struggle. And you know how good I am at struggling.
You’ve come a long way. What are your thoughts on your journey?
Bahot diya dene wale ne mujhko (The Almighty has given me a lot). I can’t complain. But yes, I do get upset when I am still referred to as a comedian. A leading Hindi paper screamed in a headline (‘For The First Time A Comedian On The Poster With The Lead Actors Of Golmaal Again’). To all those who think they are doing me a favour by such gestures, I have Salman (Khan) bhai’s dialogue: “Humpe itna ehsaan karna ke humpe koi ehsaan mat karna”.