After portraying diverse characters in critically acclaimed films like Khosla Ka Ghonsla, Titli, A Death In The Gunj, Bheja Fry and others, Ranvir Shorey is now a dacoit in Abhishek Chaubey’s directorial Sonchiriya. What fascinates him about the film is its genre as he believes it is only Indian filmmakers who have explored the world of bandits.
Though Ranvir has mostly played supporting roles in his career of 25 years, he says whatever role has come his way, whether small or big, he has tried to own it. For him, the only two foundations of his life are music and movies.
Before the release of Sonchiriya this Friday, the 46-year-old actor sat down for an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com. He opened up about how he was written off after delivering flops, but he still took up work to pay his bills and earn money.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
What attracted you to Sonchiriya?
Primarily it is Abhishek Chaubey. I have been looking for an opportunity to work with him for a long time now. When he called me, I was very excited, but there was also a fear that the part might be one of those smaller ones that I generally end up getting. But I was pleasantly surprised that it was not only a good part but also a fabulous script. So, I just gave as many thumbs up as I could.
What makes you sign films that give you a chance to play unconventional roles?
Well, ideally I would like to play lead roles, but since I don’t get those and I have been bracketed as someone who cannot do a lead part, I look for these parts where I, at least, have something to do. And, when I find something to do, I try to make as much room as I can for myself.
With such brilliant performances coming from you, why is that, that we see you so less in movies and mostly in supporting roles?
I have been fortunate enough to be offered lead roles, but the thing is there are a couple of mainstream films that I did which didn’t do well at the box office. So, they stopped casting me as a lead actor although that doesn’t happen with many other people in this business. They get opportunities again, but I have not been able to manage that. Unfortunately, there are two kind of actors, one who already has money and want to be famous and the second one are those who make their livelihood from this business. I belong to the second category. I have to keep working to pay my bills. Hence, I end up taking work which is not lead or not so big in terms of media attention and budget.
What do you have to say about box office numbers being a determinant in deciding if a film is good or bad?
I don’t agree that if a film makes a lot of money, it’s a good film. I know a lot of good films which have not made money and I know a lot of crap films which have made a lot of money. But the belief that I work with and I know a lot of filmmakers who will agree with me, is that you can make a good film and still earn money and that’s what I have been a part of.
How did you prepare for Sonchiriya?
Every part has a different level of preparation required. This was a part I would say that needed more preparation because it is just so different from anything that I have done. Even this film is very different from what people have seen in a long time. The closest you can think of a film in terms of a dacoit film would be a Paan Singh Tomar or a Bandit Queen, but Sonchiriya is very different from those also. This is like an entertaining action film.
Do you think that now even the supporting actors are getting their due and are being noticed?
I feel the audience has always rewarded only stories and not the actors. When the audience rewards three or four stories by a particular actor, he or she becomes a star. For me a star is that actor who drives people to the box office and not the one who has media attention or has hashtags running in his name. That is good PR for me. So, the audience is always going to watch good stories only, that is the added bonus that the lead actor walks away with. I don’t think the audience ever reward the actor. If say a star goes to give a bad film or not good stories, they let it go once or twice, but the third time they will not go to watch it.
Does playing a negative character impact you personally too?
I believe the part that you end up playing onscreen is kind of a mix of the character written by the writer and the director and some part of you. So, it’s an amalgamation of these two that makes a character. I don’t think you can ever remove either completely. There’s no way I can remove my persona from any character that I play. Having said that, there is a give and take that happens between the actor and the character. So, the character ends up taking some things from the actor and vice versa. I think the parts which I play do touch me, they change me and affect me but in a good way. It’s not like I will start killing people if I am playing a serial killer. But it does give me an insight into human nature. I think Robert Altman (American film director) coined this term called Human condition. So, I think being an actor is an exploration of the human condition. For me as an actor, there is always something to learn about human nature when I work.
After working in the industry for so many years, what is that which drives you to the sets of a film?
I am extremely passionate about films and that is essentially the driving force behind it. I have been struggling to be a part of films for almost 25 years now. I am almost 46 now and I started when I was 21. The two foundations of my life are movies and music.