After giving us hit performances in Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi, Daman, Jhankaar Beats, My Brother… Nikhil, Bas Ek Pal, I Am and many others, Sanjay Suri is all set for a true caper, Chauranga. The actor-turned-producer talks to Sangeeta Yadav about sensible commercial cinema, coping with the loss of his father in a terror attack and Bollywood’s biggest trend this year
- Your upcoming movie Chauranga has got good response at film festivals. Tell us more about this real life incident.
Chauranga was prompted by a news story about the brutal killing of a 14-year-old boy. He was thrown under a running train for writing a love letter to a girl from a different caste. The incident shocked director Bikas Ranjan Mishra. The storyline is relevant in context to caste violence and discrimination.
- Tell us about your character Dhaval?
Dhaval is a man threatened by imminent change — his ancestral mansion has lost its glory with the abolition of the zamindari system. A man literally cut into two — who loves a lower-caste woman but can’t bear the thought of his own daughter falling for a ‘low-born’. He is a man who doesn’t like no for an answer.
- What prompted you to associate with Kiran Narain’s book titled Kashmir — The Loss of Innocence?
The book is a memoir that chronicles major political happenings from 1947 to 1990. Bittersweet memories of a girl growing up in Kashmir with her five sisters in a progressive Kashmir is the focus of this book.
- In 1990, you lost your father in a terrorist attack in Srinagar. How did you deal with that?
My father was killed in his Srinagar home on August 1, 1990 which led to our displacement. Fortunately, we didn’t have to live in refugee camps in Jammu as we received a lot of family support in Delhi. I had to return to Jammu for studies in 1991. My mother was a pillar of strength despite her having lost her husband, home and identity, her 47 years in one moment. But she was strong and never gave up.
- Your journey in Bollywood dates back to 1999 with Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi (PMKK). How was the initial phase?
Like any newcomer with dreams, I too walked down the path slowly but steadily. After PMKK, I got a lot of appreciation for my character Bugs which got me more work. I was excited to get a call from Kalpana Lajmi for Daman. I loved her film Rudaali, so was very excited to work with her. I did some mainstream films too but realised that my calling was more towards sensible commercial cinema.
- Where have you been since 2012?
I didn’t get any good roles and felt unutilised as an actor. I hate this downtime where you keep waiting for roles. I constantly think of stories and ways to make them, so producing happened. I want to work on mainstream cinema as well as focus on local themes with global appeal to make entertaining, engaging and enriching films.
- Your top trends for Bollywood 2015…
Content-driven films are working and the audience is rejecting the others. However, there is need for a healthy distribution eco-system for Indie films which are not star driven.
- What are your upcoming projects?
I’m working on my sixth drama film titled Shab (The Night) directed by Onir and a psychological drama titled My Birthday Song is in the pipeline that’s directed by Samir Soni.
(The interview got published in Sunday Pioneer – http://www.dailypioneer.com/sunday-edition/sunday-pioneer/backpack/i-felt-underutilised.html)