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Sunday, October 25, 2020

I want to be intellectually challenged by my roles: Halahal actor Barun Sobti

Actor Barun Sobti on Eros Now's Halahal, playing a desi character, and working with Sachin Khedekar.

Written by Sana Farzeen | Mumbai | Updated: September 21, 2020 6:26:10 pm
barun sobti, halahalBarun Sobti essays the role of cop Yusuf Qureshi in Halahal. (Photo: PR handout)

Popular actor Barun Sobti is back with another thrilling drama Halahal, which is streaming on Eros Now. Also starring Sachin Khedekar, the film will chronicle the journey of a father who wants to find the truth about his daughter’s death. Helmed by Randeep Jha and written-produced by Zeishan Quadri, the crime-thriller has been inspired by true events.

Based in Ghaziabad, Halahal will see Sobti in a never-seen-before avatar of a policeman. In an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, the much-loved actor spoke about getting into the skin of his copy character, working with Sachin Khedekar and his absence from social media.

Excerpts from the conversation.

What is Halahal all about?

It’s the story about a missing girl and the journey of a father to find her. He meets this very colourful cop and together they uncover the mystery that’s beyond a normal eye to see.

We haven’t seen you do anything like this before. What was it like to play Yusuf Qureshi?

It was very exciting. Also, it was really brave of Zeishan to cast me in something like this. It’s quite unfortunate that we call ourselves a creative industry, when the usual casting is based on perception. As you mentioned, I haven’t done anything like this. Zeishan too had to face a lot of challenges. Wherever he proposed my name, people were not sure if I could do it. Hence, I had to give it my all as there was no room for any compromise.

Tell us more about your process. You also have a very distinct accent in the movie.

(Laughs) You see, most people know only about my urban side. That’s the image they have seen. However, I have been born and brought up in Delhi, which is one of the biggest migrant cities in the country. So I had all kinds of friends while growing up and I know a lot of people who belong to the north side. The accent was not really a task. I think I can do more desi stuff than this.

From the trailer, it’s suggested that your character also brings comic relief to the otherwise dark film.

That was the intention. The character was written in that way so that it could bring in some humour. Also, as we went along, it kept developing. We would experiment with it right until the scene was about to be canned. I remember once I went up to Zeishan and said that I need a punch line for a particular scene. And he gave me a fantastic one just minutes before we shot, and it suited the scene so well. So the improvs and discussions would go on till the very end.

How was it working with a senior actor like Sachin Khedekar?

He might have been a senior but he was like a fresher on set. That goes on to display how he wanted to be an equal. It was amazing to work with him, almost like a knife through butter. He is a secure artiste. Usually a set’s temperament is decided by the senior actors, and he was so cool that it made the whole experience quite fun.

barun sobti, sachin khedekar Barun Sobti and Sachin Khedekar in Halahal. (Photo: PR handout)

The entire nation is talking about the “murder vs suicide” theory in Sushant Singh Rajput’s case. While the film is not based on it, do you think a similar theme will get it more audience?

Not at all. Halahal was filmed more than a year ago, and that was never our intention. That would have been a terrible way of riding on a sorrowful story. We are not trying to make a political comment or even go near the same.

Derma, Asur and now Halahal, you seem to be quite attracted to dark stories.

I really believe in being intellectually challenged with the roles I do. This is why I pick up stuff that’s relevant. Also, I have an attention deficit issue, hence, I can only focus on things that interest me. I want to choose content that keeps me on my toes.

Is that the reason why we didn’t see you do more romantic roles, which could have got you sure-shot success?

To be honest with you, I never had any structure in my mind regarding my career. I would hear a script, like it and go ahead and sign it. I never believed in having a PR or striking the hammer when the iron was hot. I have gone by my gut feeling and picked projects that really interested me. And so far, I have been quite lucky.

Social media has now become a way to gauge success. Given that you stay away from it, do you feel it’s luck that your fans are still so connected to you?

The audience would be attracted to an actor who they can relate with, or someone who challenges them intellectually with their work. They wouldn’t want to invest their time if either of it is missing. It would have been shallow if fans would have been happy by me just putting up fancy pictures on social media. I think the large number of people that I have with me are also attracted to what I want to do. And that’s a great feeling.

TV actors have a hard time finding their place in Bollywood, especially when they just step out from a popular character. How was it for you?

It’s really unfortunate and quite difficult for any actor to break out of a stereotype. Thankfully, it’s finally breaking for me now. And I want to continue doing different roles. Also, that has never been my intention honestly. I quit TV because it wasn’t challenging me anymore, and I didn’t want to start getting bored. My work is very important to me at the end of the day.

Actors don’t get much family time. Did the lockdown come as a boon, given you got to spend time with your little daughter?

It was great, but sad, given the cost it came with. In a regular working scenario, I would have definitely not gotten a chance to spend all the time with my wife and daughter.

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