Superstar Salman Khan is here with his Eid offering Bharat. The film, as expected, has opened to packed theaters today. While Katrina Kaif plays Salman’s lady love, popular television face Sunil Grover is seen essaying Vilayti to Salman’s Bharat in the Ali Abbas Zafar directorial. The best friends journey together through the ups and downs in their lives.
Ahead of Bharat’s release, Sunil sat down for an exclusive interview with indianexpress.com where he opened up about his journey, working with Salman Khan and evolving as a comedy star.
Excerpts from the conversation:
You started your career by mimicking Shah Rukh Khan and now you are starring alongside Salman Khan in Bharat. How do you look back at your career?
Well, everybody has to go through a journey. I did have to do things to reach where I wanted to. As you know, I don’t come from a filmy family and so had to start from scratch. But it has been a beautiful journey.
Tell us more about Bharat.
I am grateful and joyful that I got to be a part of this amazing film. First and foremost, it is a Salman Khan film. Secondly, it is directed by Ali Abbas Zafar and thirdly, it has a great story and production value. It’s been a great experience working with the team for six months. The moment I read the script, I knew I had to do it. I actually feel lucky to be a part of Bharat.
You were appreciated in your last film Pataakha but it had relatively newer actors. Were you apprehensive about how you will be projected in a Salman Khan film?
As I told you, I feel lucky doing Bharat. But I also have a very good role. I am there with Salman through the entire journey from 1947 to 2010. But even if that wasn’t the case, this film is such that I would have been happy to be a part of it in any way.
While many actors want to try out different genres, you have stuck to comedy. Do you want to go along with it as that is one of your biggest strengths?
I have been doing comedy because I love it. Meanwhile, I have done different roles like one in Gabbar is Back. Even in Pataakha, the comedy was approached in a different way and my character also had shades of grey. In Bharat also, our intention was not to do anything funny or try gimmicks. It is all situational comedy. I believe it is a noble thing to make people laugh. And while comedy is looked down upon, I think it is the most difficult thing to do. I am not even a comedian as I have to learn this craft more.
Do you see yourself doing a lead role someday?
In a comedy film, why not? If producers are willing, I am more than ready to shoulder a film.
We saw Salman Khan turn photographer for you during the shoots. Behind the star, how is he as a person?
Salman really found me photogenic. He couldn’t let go such a handsome and sexy muse (laughs). On a serious note, to share the frame with a man, who I have been a fan, was initially intimidating. He has that superstar aura but he really made me comfortable, and Ali too helped a lot. Salman is also a great co-actor as he gives you suggestions. There have been many lines which he improvised for me. He was also kind to give me space to do my own stuff. He rather motivated me. Salman is the most secure person I have worked with.
And how was it working with Katrina Kaif?
Whenever Katrina came on set, she was always in a happy mood, unless she was busy or occupied with something. She is such a huge star but has no starry tantrums. She is also very focused and prepares well in advance for her scenes. I got to learn that from her. Katrina also tries to better her craft all the time. Even when the director gives a go-ahead, she still wants another take if she is not happy.
As an actor, how important is it to be a part of a commercial film with big stars than being critically acclaimed for your roles?
A film like Bharat is made in a huge magnitude with an intention to reach everyone. People feel commercial films are easier but it is so much more challenging. You need to make everyone interested in it at the same time, and also have an aspirational value. This is a beautiful story set in different eras with different looks and location. It will also keep you emotionally involved. Bharat is a film that is not made every day and I am fortunate I could be a part of it.
Any plans of coming back to the small screen?
I love television and it has given me a lot. If there are good offers, I am more than willing to do it.
A lot has been said about your exit from The Kapil Sharma Show. But do you think that helped you evolve as an actor?
I was khali for a year without any work. I was sitting at home doing nothing and just watching films. If I learned something doing that and could better my craft then maybe, but I really don’t know.
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