Acclaimed Bengali actor and theatre personality Koushik Sen, who played the Kolkata police officer with a “kind” face in the Oscar-nominated Lion, says he relished learning about Hollywood technique as well as performing with child actor Sunny Pawar.
It was a feat made easier with director Garth Davis’s love for the art, he says.
“I did the film mainly for two reasons: I wanted to know how Hollywood films work and their technique and the second reason is absolutely professional because they pay you very well,” Sen told IANS.
Of course, there was also the satisfaction of working in a movie alongside bigwigs Nicole Kidman and Dev Patel.
Lion is based on India-born Australian businessman Saroo Brierley’s book A Long Way Home, which narrates how he as a child got separated from his family, ended up on the streets of Kolkata and was finally adopted by an Australian couple. He returns to India 25 years later to track down his biological family with the help of Google Earth.
Lion has received six Oscar nominations at the 89th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Dev Patel), Best Supporting Actress (Nicole Kidman) and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Patel recently won the BAFTA Best Supporting Actor trophy for his portrayal of the adult Saroo in Lion.
Sen is seen in a bit role in the film, also starring his son Riddhi, the generous young man who brings the lost Saroo to the police.
What stood out for Sen is Davis’s and his team’s approach towards each of the actors, and of course, the passion for the craft.
“The character is not that of a meek person. When I met the director, he told me that ‘I like you because you have a very kind face. I need a police officer who shows compassion’. He didn’t know anything about me as my professional acting character is restricted within Bengal. But I was amazed to see how he dealt with each of the characters so meticulously and they know the importance of art,” Sen said.
“The entire planning, right from the moment I stepped into the studio, the make-up van, the way they briefed me, the shooting, everything was not only systematic but there was also a lot of love, genuinity, and love for the art.”
“Even if it had not been nominated, Lion would have been an experience which I will cherish forever,” asserted Sen, known for his range through films like Zulfiqar, Open Tee Bioscope, Rajkahini, Kahaani 2 and the Byomkesh series.
Sen also particularly enjoyed working with Pawar, who portrays Saroo as a child.
“He is an amazing kid. I enjoyed working with him,” Sen said.
Keeping his fingers crossed for the Oscars on February 26, the 48-year-old underscored the importance of respecting cinema as an art form, continuously lavishing praise on Davis.
“We all talk about budget and box office and when we really can’t achieve something, we talk about money (as an excuse). I agree on money matters, but it’s not only about the budget. Your mindset and notion also count,” he said.
“I found the director a very good human being. The way he dealt with each and everyone on the set, he is a very nice person and that is what is important also, else working on the subject could have been difficult,” he signed off.