Meet Pradhuman Singh. Now, you may think – who is he? Well, let us reintroduce him as the actor who played Osama Bin Laden in Tere Bin Laden series. Yes, you read that right. Pradhuman will now be seen playing a role in Irrfan Khan’s upcoming film Blackmail. And not just acting, the Laden of Bollywood has turned dialogue writer with the Abhinay Deo directorial, which will head to the theatres on April 6.
“I am playing the character of Anand. He is an office mate of Irrfan’s character. He is one of those annoying fellows who is always bickering and condoling you and for some reason is around. He keeps fiddling with people’s personal life. He tries to give Irrfan some advice which has its own repercussions. So, that is basically how my character is,” said Pradhuman. He thinks the character is going to be relatable because every organisation has “a shady guy who comes across as smart but when you get to know him, he turns out to be dumb.”
Pradhuman Singh says saying yes to Blackmail was a no-brainer for him as not only the genre but also the cast and the crew had excited him. “When I first read the script, I was very excited. Blackmail is a black comedy and I like that genre. It has been directed by Abhinay Deo who has given us a cult classic like Delhi Belly and of course, you have Irrfan,” said the actor.
He was all praise for Irrfan, who plays the lead in Blackmail. “He is one of the finest actors in the world and I think finest of India at the present time. I personally feel it was a dream to work with him. I did not decide the role, to be honest. I would have just said yes because of the director and Irrfan too.”
“It is a joy to see him perform. He is so different in so many ways. His sense of approaching a scene, his attitude and style, everything was incredible. I learnt how to approach a scene and do it differently, which is a great talent he has. He tries to break the obvious which is difficult. I would struggle to do that. I would not mind saying that Irrfan was like an actor’s workbook. So, most of the time I would observe and absorb whatever I could in the little screen space we shared,” added Pradhuman.
Post the release of Tere Bin Laden 2, the actor did not appear much on-screen. The last we saw him was in The Viral Fever’s popular show Permanent Roommates but that too was a cameo. During the conversation, he opened up on how his debut role of Laden was both “a curse and blessing.”
“When you play a larger than life character, it is very difficult for people to see you as anything else. It has happened with the legendary Amjad Khan too. His Gabbar character is so larger than life that despite his work in other films, people remember him just as Gabbar. No one remembers his other works. I think I have been lucky to have such a powerful character too. But the problem is nobody knows who is Pradhuman Singh. I become a new face for someone or the other because they do not know who I am,” he said.
Pradhuman Singh thinks things would have been different if he had not been introduced to Bollywood with his character of Laden in the Abhishek Sharma directorial. “Things would have been different if I was not introduced as Bin Laden. I said once that the character has been my greatest gift and biggest curse. I got so much love from the industry and the audience. However, there is no recognition. Till date, I go to meet someone who has been there in the industry for more than two decades, their first reaction is “Who is Pradhuman”. The recognition and fame follow only after they are told I played Osama Bin Laden aka Noor in Tere Bin Laden series.”
“I wrote a film Zoya Factor. That film is going on floors. It stars Sonam Kapoor and Dulquer Salmaan. I have written dialogues for Blackmail too. I hope the audience likes it so that I get more work. Right now, I am busy as a writer. From now on, I would introduce myself as actor-writer,” quipped Pradhuman.
When we asked how writing for Blackmail happened, Pradhuman Singh said he was hired for writing dialogues and got the role in the film just by chance. “Funny thing is that I was hired as a writer, not as an actor. So, when I was writing, the casting was going on. For my character, the casting directors were looking for someone who is a bit older or Irrfan’s age. I did the narration and came back home. I got a call from the casting directors that the makers wanted me to audition for this role. So, I was never supposed to be part of this film.”
He went on to narrate how difficult it was to write dialogues for this film as the director and the producers wanted few dialogues with an impressive impact.
“This was a tough film to write. The makers were not wanting to put in many dialogues. They wanted the dialogues to be on point yet quirky and funny. In fact, Irrfan has very few dialogues in the film. It is an experiment and a different approach. I had to come up with one liners. Luckily, for whatever I have learnt, people are liking the dialogues in the trailer. What helped me was the script. The characters were sketched really well which helped me to write dialogues. It is a rare occasion nowadays because until you sketch the characters rightly, apart from the hero and heroine and maybe the villain, the other characters become forgettable. It is unfortunate that writers are not credited much in the industry. Parvez Sheikh (who has written the screenplay for Blackmail) is also a writer of Queen and Bajrangi Bhaijaan. He made my job as a dialogue writer easy, ” said Pradhuman.
With Blackmail, Pradhuman Singh says he is starting off new in the industry as a writer. “As a writer, it is a new beginning but I have no hopes from this film as an actor. I hoped things to change with Tere Bin Laden 2 but unfortunately, it tanked at the box office. With this film, I have no expectations. Whatever comes my way, I will try to justify it. But now, I am more focused on writing. It is a tedious project but has respect and craft involved.”
On being asked if there are plans to make another film in the Tere Bin Laden series, Pradhuman answered, “Not anything as far as I know. If part two had worked people would have thought about it but it was a disaster. I remember someone calling me to write for the third part and I said I am not the right person to talk about it. So, I don’t know anything about it for now.”