Monday, February 18, 2013

Amit Sadh

“I'm proud that I'm not scared to show my emotions”

By Ankita R Kanabar

(This interview was published in the January 19, 2013 issue of Super Cinema)

When he commenced his acting career, on small screen with ‘Kyun Hota Hai Pyarr’, he was a heartthrob for several teenage girls. ‘Kyun Hota Hai Pyarr’, ‘Guns and Roses’, ‘Bigg Boss’ to ‘Kai Po Che’, Amit Sadh has, most definitely, come a long way! While he remains modest, and credits his luck for him bagging a film like ‘Kai Po Che’, we know for a fact that he’s worked extremely hard to be where he is, today. And, obviously, the journey hasn’t been easy. Though, what’s commendable is the fact that the rough patches have just made Amit stronger and better as a person. He is more positive than ever now, and in fact, his positivity is kind of inspiring. When I met Amit, he seemed completely at ease, with not much of nervousness or anxiety pangs despite the fact that the film is nearing release. His eyes were brimming with excitement as he spoke about the film. His animated face, as he spoke about various things, made the passion for his craft, evident. And the glint in his eyes while he speaks about films is endearing. Amit isn’t diplomatic, while he answers the questions asked, and has no qualms about expressing his emotions. So, here’s the ‘Kai Po Che’ boy talking about his journey, working on this film, about director Abhishek Kapoor, equation with his co-stars, his favourite actors and a lot more in a heart-to-heart conversation…

From ‘Kyun Hota Hai Pyarr’ to ‘Kai Po Che’…how has your journey been…especially with several ups and downs?
The journey has been great. I’ve only taken the positives from it. 10 years back I was 20, I didn’t know much of acting, and I was not ready to handle what I got. I was this young angry man who was very high on his emotions, who called a spade a spade. Luckily, I got a break, many people were noticing me, and I was making a lot of money too. But I realised, I just didn’t get time to grow. Sixteen hours I was on the set. From 20-25, I made money, I made a house, and I realised, I haven’t grown in 5yrs…haven’t read a book in 5yrs, I’ve not done anything. Then, I took a conscious decision where I thought I need to find myself. So, there was this phase of one year, when I didn’t know if I wanted to be an actor. I travelled; I just learnt various things, met old friends. When I wanted to come back and act in movies, I faced a lot of rejection. Then I told myself, okay, this is not happening, I can’t bluff myself as an actor now that I want to be one. I can’t just go to the gym and make six pack abs, and be an actor. Here most times, that’s what works. So, I took a very bold crazy decision, I sold everything I had and went to Lee Strasberg Institute in New York to learn acting, in any case, my money had almost finished. I learnt, and when I came back in 2011, on 29th April, I got ‘Maximum’, that happened till December. And, last year has changed my whole life. In February I signed ‘Kai Po Che’, and just the whole journey on ‘Kai Po Che’ has been like a miracle.

And during this whole journey, so far, have you changed as a person?
My foundation is still the same. I’ve learnt how to be quiet. My tolerance level is now very high. I only react in front of the camera. If events in your life change you, then that’s not right. I’d like to believe that I’ve become more mature. I think I’ve become more humble, after seeing so much. I met Al Pachino, when he was doing his play ‘Merchant of Venice’ and the kind of humility and calmness this man has is amazing! When he being one of the best actors in the world can be so humble, then I guess we better stay grounded.

But when one goes through several rough patches, sometimes one could get a little negative?
I think that way, I’m still the same. I still have a lot of love for everyone. I’ve not got cynical which I’m happy about. With God’s grace, I’m glad I haven’t got negative. Honestly, I don’t know what negativity is. I can never be negative in life.

So, how did ‘Kai Po Che’ happen?
Mukesh Chhabra, who is one of the biggest casting directors here, called me and I went for the screen test. To be honest, getting the film was easy, and I still think it was a miracle. My screen test tape went to my director, Gattu (Abhishek Kapoor), he liked it and he said he wanted me on this film. Yes, getting the film was really easy, only the 6-7 years before this film happened, were bad (smiles). And I would say that with this film, I feel like a new-born. It has been a life-changing experience for me especially working with people like these. I used to say, this film has no actual stars, everyone in the film apart from the actors, are stars. We have national award winning producer, then a national-award winning costume designer, sound-recordist, director! All of these are the stars of the film.

And then what kind of preparations went into the film and your character?
Before the film went on floors, we did workshops. We had to work on the dialogues and the body language since we’re playing Gujarati guys. It was a lot of work. And for me, this film has been difficult because of the whole journey of my character, from a normal guy to how he changes, his understanding of life. There’s a lot of travel for my character in the film. Omi starts something, becomes something and in the end becomes something else. To be that way, age wise, mentally and emotion wise was too tough. To be able to portray his emotional turmoil and also maintain the physicality of the character was a task. There were times when I had to lose 6-7 kilos of weight over-night, which I had no choice but to lose by wrong means, which I’m not proud of. But sometimes, you have no choice and then, I also had to pay for it, since it affected my health. So, I wouldn’t say this film has been easy. But, I think it’s all worth it, since my character in the film is completely different from Chetan Bhagat’s book, Gattu has written an amazing screenplay, and my character would be a surprise in the film! And I’m still amazed at my luck to get a character like this so early on in my career. I still don’t know how I did it! I’m still soaking it all in.

How was it working with a director like Abhishek Kapoor? 
I have two relationships with Gattu. I call him ‘Gattu bro’ which is after 9’o clock, after the pack up; and while we’re shooting, he’s Gattu sir for me. He’s one of the most amazing human beings I’ve ever met in my life. I’m extremely grateful to him. And as a director, I think he has spoilt me. Because he gives you so much liberty and he’s always there for you, just like a brother. For this film, his clarity was so immense that I just gave myself to him completely. In this film, what I’ve done, is what he has told me to do. I think after this film, people will realise what a fine director he is, since I think it’s much better than ‘Rock On!!’

What kind of equation did you share with co-stars Sushant Singh Rajput and Rajkumar Yadav?
Rajkumar is one of the most fantastic actors in this country I think. He’s from a different school of acting all together, or perhaps he’s a school in himself as an actor. Sushant is very spontaneous, and he has a certain charisma on screen. He’s worked very hard and the fun was that all three of us bonded so well. We weren’t really acting with each other, and that’s the USP of the film. There’s this amazing camaraderie that we share off-screen, which I think has transferred on-screen too.

If you could choose one, which has been your most special moment during ‘Kai Po Che’?  
There was this scene in the film where I had to be all sad, and cry due to some reasons. So, I had to actually prepare myself for that scene. I didn’t really eat. I literally cried for 2-3 days. I stopped talking to everyone. I was completely in that zone. So, nobody came and talked to me. On the day when we were shooting, Gattu came to me and he was like, “Beta tu yahan baith jaa. Nobody would distract you, disturb you.” They were whispering, they were tip-toeing, so that I don’t get disturbed. The kind of respect they gave me, the way they respected my process was very touching. They could have said ‘kya naatak kar raha hai, he’s still so new, he must just act and go’, but they believed in the process, supported me. That was the high point of the film for me. I was so touched that I went to everyone, hugged them and thanked them after that scene. For a newcomer like me, they didn’t have to do it. Who am I? I’m nobody. That was a beautiful experience for me.

What kind of roles do you see yourself doing, from here on?
I think I’ve not even started my career. What you see in ‘Kai Po Che’ could be just a glimpse what I actually want to do. I think, I’m extremely greedy as an actor. I want to do everything. I want to play a lover, a psycho, a mad man, a bad man, everything and extremely challenging roles, because, that’s the high. I hope I do get challenging roles and writers write more roles like that. I want to work hard, and I want people to forget Amit Sadh, the person, and just see the character on-screen. When you watch me on-screen, I want you to forget me. I’ve tried that with this film, and so, in this film you won’t see Amit, you’ll only see Omi, because everything about him is so different. His walk, the way he talks, his emotions, his energy, everything is different.

Any wish-list of actors that you want to share screen-space with? 
The list just keeps getting longer (laughs). I’m definitely dying to work with Amitabh Bachchan. I just think that watching him, listening to his interviews, reading what he writes, makes you a better person. I think Amitabh Bachchan is a man, every man should be. Just getting a glimpse of that man and the way he conducts himself, makes you a better man. How amazing is he! And I’m a die-hard fan of Vidya Balan. Just the actor that she is, she changed the way actresses were perceived. Everyone’s pretty, we’re all pretty, but there were these perceptions that if you are like this, only then, you’re pretty. Vidya Balan came and changed all of that. What a woman! But more than working with people, I just want to be a part of good stories. When you’re making a movie, you just don’t work with people, you’re working on a story. And what matters is a good director since cinema is a director’s medium.

You think now, the perceptions that people had about you are changing? 
I believe that, people don’t leave you, may be you have an energy that doesn’t attract people. I can be very cynical and say that people left me during a bad phase, but I’d like to think that may be something about me wasn’t right at that time. My aura was such that nobody wanted me. Today, my energy is beautiful, my aura is great, I know that, so, I’m attracting people now. And I meet so many people every day, I’m not negative, I meet them all with love. I never put the blame on others. I think when you have a problem, it’s because of you, and nobody else. So, when I realised that, I worked on myself, I worked on things.

And so, how is Amit Sadh – the person, different from Amit Sadh - the actor? I believe, you are quite emotional and sensitive…
I’m extremely emotional and sensitive, and I’m proud that I’m not scared to show my emotions. Though, I’ve groomed myself now and may be right now I won’t be as elaborate and forthcoming as I was five years back. I didn’t like the fact that I was sensitive, but when you embrace yourself you’re at peace. And I think it’s great to be sensitive because as an actor, it helps you relate to every situation, so then you’re feeling a situation, and not just acting. I’ve learnt how to detach from Amit Sadh, the actor, and am more focused on Amit Sadh, the person, which I think is great and it shall make me a better actor. Because off screen, I don’t behave like an actor, I’m just a normal guy. I stand in queues; I would open the door for a lady and all that. When you take your work into your personal life, you become cocky, arrogant and crazy. I don’t want that.

As an audience, what are the kind of films do you like watching?
I’m such a movie buff, I watch all kinds of films. I watch Iranian films, French films, English films, and of course, most Hindi films. Films like ‘Half Ticket’, ‘Kabhi Kabhie’, then, all those Manoj Kumar films, Raj Kapoor films, I like. And Kamal Hassan’s ‘Ek Duje Ke Liye’ continues to remain my all-time favourite film. Ironically, I never saw a film till I was 16; I didn’t like movies back then.

Oh so you seem like a romantic at heart?
(laughs) Yes, you can write that! I won’t mind that image.

Any other films that you’ve signed at the moment?
There are a few films lined up. But at the moment, I only want to concentrate on ‘Kai Po Che’ and talk about that. I don’t want to sound like actors who make a lot of noise and just talk a lot about the films they’ve signed.

And last words on ‘Kai Po Che’
All I would say is, I think we’ve made a great film. It’s a collaborate association of a lot of visionary, talented people – be it the producer, director, art department or costume department. So, I hope people like it. 

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