Updated: March 7, 2021 9:53:23 am
It has been a year since the lovely little film, Kaamyaab released. The film opened a window into the life of actors who play ‘character actors’ in blockbusters — sometimes appearing to say just a dialogue, and at others getting a scene perhaps. The vaguely familiar faces have been a constant in Hindi cinema, but have rarely managed to break out of the box that the industry, and the audience, has put them into.
Hardik Mehta’s film was meant to celebrate character actors, or as Sanjay’s character calls them ‘aloo- kalaakar’, as ubiquitous as the humble potato that adds value to every vegetable preparation but without taking the attention away from the ‘star of the show’. The film not only gave an insight into the lives of actors playing character roles but also showed the world their plight.
Excerpts from the interview:
You compared character actors as aloo (potatoes), in the film, ‘kya ab aloo ka daam badha hai’?
Yes! (chuckles) ‘Ab aloo ka daam badha hai’, but in the hearts of the audience. I had done Kaamyaab with a lot of love, and looking back, I think people loved my work too. Today, many actors’ children come to me and tell me that I remind them of their father or mother who have been actors. So, I think the film has been successful in terms of what the film wanted to say, every film has a motive, and this one pierced into everybody’s hearts. Kaamyaab was one of the last films to have released in cinema-halls before the COVID-19 lockdown, so more people got an opportunity to watch the film once it came on Netflix. They meant to watch it, they didn’t watch it just for time-pass. Akshay Kumar and Govinda had reached out to me after watching the film. So, yeah, aloo ka daam badhaa, and it made me a happy actor, finally, because the film was loved by the audience and critics alike, and I realised that people respected my body of work.
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Did you always crave to do a film like this?
First of all, such a film was never made before, nobody paid attention to character actors. So, I feel extremely lucky that Hardik (Mehta, director) approached me. One day, when I will sit alone in peace, reflecting on my life and work, I will remember this film as ‘that one good film I did in life’. This film is very close to my heart, my name was Sudheer in the film, but what you saw on-screen was Sanjay Mishra only. All my life I have played someone’s friend, someone’s brother, father. Where would a character artist like me get an opportunity like Kaamyaab? I count myself lucky in certain things — I did this and Kadvi Hawa. Doing these films made me feel good, that I am at least contributing to my art as an actor.
Sudheer came to know that he did 499 films and wants to do one more to reach the 500th number. Did you ever count your films?
I never got an opportunity to do so, I never did. It was my work, my profession, the more I worked, the better I would earn. So I kept working to earn my bread and butter. I never earned enough to one day give it all up. Luckily work kept coming, so I kept working. I still haven’t counted how many films I have done in my career as an actor. But I am not doing just any role, I am choosing good stories, good filmmakers, good filmmakers are choosing me, so I am enjoying this phase in my career.
Sudheer never finished his 500th film, so he wasn’t really ‘kaamyaab’ per se, then why do you think the film was named Kaamyaab?
I have never been asked this, and I don’t know why the film was named Kaamyaab. The film’s working title of the film was ‘Kaamyaabi Ke Kinare’. What I can think of is, when we shot the film’s climax, we had three alternative climaxes. One is that after performing on stage at the granddaughter’s school function, I fall and the girl comes running to me, and people don’t know if I am dead or alive. The second climax was that after the show, the daughter and the granddaughter are playing at a beach and the granddaughter asks her mother how many people must have been there in the auditorium, and she says there were 500 people. So, that way Sudheer reaches that number ultimately. The third climax was that when Isha (Talwar) returns to Mumbai, her rickshaw driver charges her more than usual, and they have an argument and suddenly the camera pans to a big hoarding opposite Juhu Chowpatty, and there is Sudheer’s picture on it. Sudheer had a dream of having a hoarding there one day, but that never happened until then, so that could have been his 500th project. And maybe, that’s why the film was finally named Kaamyaab, thinking that Sudheer was finally successful.
Did things change for you after Kaamyaab?
We are the kind of actors for whom life doesn’t really change in one night. For me and my colleagues who have done character roles all our lives, things don’t change so easily, but when people respect what we do, that’s ‘kaamyaabi’ for us. All of us appreciated the heart of the film, it did something for a class of actors who weren’t recognised, their work was hardly respected. So, that’s a big change that has happened after, and because of Kaamyaab.
I am doing Cirkus with Rohit Shetty and Ranveer Singh. Kaamyaab is not at all a kind of Rohit Shetty film, is it? But he watched it. When I went on the set, Rohit and Ranveer said, ‘Enjoying life, aur option kya hai?’ and we had a good laugh, but I felt so good that they had seen my film. Hardly there is a day when Rohit doesn’t say, ‘enjoying life’, ‘bass aur kya chaahiye’. I am doing many more films and I am in love with my characters, what more do I now need? I finally feel I am getting what I deserve!
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