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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Kumud Mishra on Ram Singh Charlie: The thought of enacting Chaplin gave me sleepless nights

Ram Singh Charlie actor Kumud Mishra shares that he lost more than 20 kilos for the film but he doesn't consider this as an achievement. Here's why.

Written by Sana Farzeen | Mumbai | August 31, 2020 11:56:11 am
ram singh charlie, kumud mishraKumud Mishra plays the titular role in Ram Singh Charlie (Photo: Screengrab SonyLIV)

Nitin Kakkar directorial Ram Singh Charlie released on SonyLIV recently. The tragicomedy stars Kumud Mishra in the titular role, while Divya Dutta plays his wife Kajri.

The film brings alive the story of Ram Singh, a Charlie Chaplin impersonator, who works in a travelling circus. Born and brought up in the environment, he is left heartbroken when the owners decide to shut it down owing to low profits. To make ends meet, he starts working as a rickshaw puller but nothing brings him peace and happiness.The story further projects how his wife Kajri (Dutta) tries to rebuild his confidence in his craft, knowing that the stage is his real love.

In an exclusive conversation with, Kumud Mishra decodes his journey as Ram Singh Charlie and the challenges he faces. He also accepts that a partner’s support can help one follow dreams without worry.

Here are excerpts from the conversation.

Q. Ram Singh Charlie has finally released after a long wait. How do you feel about it?

I am very excited as it has been a long struggle making the film, and then waiting for it to hit the screens. Ram Singh Charlie might have been made under a small production but it’s quite an important film. For years, we have worked on it, and while we were appreciated at every screening, till the time the audience doesn’t see a film, it’s journey is not complete.

Q. As an actor, does the scale of production matters when you take up a project, given that bigger films get easier release?

When you are signing a film, you don’t worry about the release. That’s too far-fetched to be even given a thought. The faith in the script and director is what makes you say yes to a project. The worry is whether you will be able to justify the character, will your vision, come alive once the film is made. Honestly, everyone believes their film to be the best in the world. However, having worked with Nitin Kakkar and Sharib Hashmi, I know they are critical, and can detach themselves of their work while judging it. Similarly, I too tried to do the same though while working on it, we knew we have made a special film. For me, it’s the journey of the character that is always most important.

Q. Divya Dutta, in her interview with us mentioned how you worked hard on the film, and even lost a lot of weight. Tell us about your journey of becoming Ram Singh Charlie.

I was offered the part while they were still in the scripting process. When I read the script, it almost looked like taking the Filmistaan journey ahead. There was so much excitement, however, I couldn’t work towards the requirements of the part. I honestly told them that I won’t be able to do the film, and that they should get another actor. Wanting to be desperately part of the film though, I told them I would do a smaller part. We were sitting in the office when they played the music for the film, and something magical happened. I told them I would do the film, and would be ready before they go on floors in three months. I did loose about 22-24 kilos for Charlie but that’s not really an achievement. These are physical attributes which many can attain, what was more important is whether I am able to crack the character. The audience watching the film won’t be bothered about how much weight I lost, they would only see whether I was convincing.

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Kumud Mishra is a power house of a performer and extreme introvert, shy and honest as a person. He is so Talented that I always wanted to see him in a film leading it, just for the greed of watching him perform for 2 hours uninterrupted. When I Narrated him Ramsingh Charlie he asked me what role was I looking at him to play. I said the title role, he was surprised, I guess because at that time he was overweight for the role. He lost 30 kgs for Ramsingh Charlie and prepared for the role. It’s been an immense pleasure and learning to work with Kumud bhai. I am proud to have directed this film, and personally I feel it’s my best work till date.I can actually write a book about this journey but I shall stop😊Thank you @kumudkmishra for this wonderful and enriching journey. #Ramsinghcharlie @iam.umeshpawar @mrfilmistaani #goodfellas @divyadutta25

A post shared by Nitin Kakkar (@nitinrkakkar) on

Q. And what about enacting Charlie Chaplin on screen. Did you feel bogged down by the pressure and expectations?

I was very nervous. Although there are very few portions but it gave me sleepless nights. Even though people around me were happy with my work, I am still not satisfied. One cannot learn his mannerism by watching films, so we had a trainer on set to help with technicalities. Every time he would approve of my work, I would be like he is tired of teaching me, and so wants to give up (laughs).

Q. That’s being too hard on yourself. Also, belonging to Kolkata, I know pulling a rickshaw is not an easy task. You took that challenge as well for the film.

A year before we started the film, we went to the city to understand the world we will be entering. Till the time you don’t actually get into the skin, you kind of romanticise the experience. Not wanting to seem like acting, I flew down a week before filming and actually pulled rickshaws with passengers. I think this too was a physical aspect that I achieved, which was necessary. I feel the rickshaw and the puller are one entity, and I wanted it to look natural.

Q. When you have to play a character going through a rough time, do you bring your own struggles and instances to get the right note?

Honestly, life and performance are so interlinked that it’s difficult to think about it consciously. It’s all part of the acting process, and that’s the beauty of it. I have been inspired by my journey, the literature I studied, and the people around me but you don’t know how much do you bring to the table while preforming. Also, sometimes, a character is so enriching and complete in itself, that you end up taking from it rather than giving it something.

Read | Ram Singh Charlie Review | Divya Dutta: I have gone beyond my comfort zone in Ram Singh Charlie

Q. Ram Singh Charlie also talks about a partner’s support while one pursues their dreams. From your personal experience, does that really play an important role?

It does, you cannot follow your dreams if you don’t have your family supporting you. When I got married, I was doing just theatre, and I took a conscious decision to do films to give them a better life. That was my responsibility as a father and husband. Even then, when would travel for a couple of months to do plays, I would lose on a lot of work. My family never questioned me although we were not very well-off then. Their support was the wind beneath my wings. They told me to do what makes me happy and I am passionate about. I won’t say it would have been impossible but life would have been tough for sure if I didn’t get that support. This film is special because it projects this special bond between partners beautifully.

Q. While middle-aged actors are mostly slotted playing parents to leads, you and Divya are the face of this film. Do you believe times and the audience’s tastes are changing?

Absolutely. Whenever one tries to look for original stories, rather than borrowing stories, actors like us will get an important space. Even commercial films are now looking out for such stories, given the stars are now in need of it. After all one can defy age only till a point. Interestingly, that hasn’t deterred their market value or popularity. Hence, filmmakers are no more hesitant in bring such films. We are lucky that this new space is being created.

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