Hailing from Punjab, actor Jagjeet Sandhu was a bit anxious about his Hindi as he did a Facebook LIVE session from The Indian Express page. But one thing he was confident about was his performance in Amazon Prime Video’s web series Paatal Lok.
Sandhu portrays the role of Chaku, one of the four assassins who plan the murder of prime time journalist Sanjeev Mehra.
“I was confident that people will like my work since I had given it my all. This was my first big role outside Punjabi cinema and I wanted to prove that an actor who can do comedy can do anything,” shared Jagjeet Sandhu.
During the free-wheeling conversation, Sandhu shared his experience of working on Paatal Lok, what he learned from his co-actors Jaideep Ahlawat and Neeraj Kabi, and much more.
Excerpts from the interaction:
How do you feel about all the appreciation coming your way after the release of Paatal Lok?
It feels good when someone appreciates your hard work. We made the show with full dedication but never expected that it would receive so much praise. I am getting so many messages on social media that my Instagram hangs every time I open it. I feel blessed to be part of such a big show.
What were your thoughts while watching your own performance in Paatal Lok?
I was a bit emotional but confident that people will like my work since I had given it my all. Until now I have mostly done comedy films in Punjabi cinema. People there know I have good comic timing. Still, I wanted to prove that an actor who can do comedy can do anything. I had this ‘keeda’ in me to showcase my acting calibre, and Paatal Lok gave me this chance. I had put all my efforts into the audition for the role of Chaku and was determined that this is my role. I believe I didn’t pick this role; this role chose me.
What were your first thoughts about Paatal Lok’s script?
When I first went on the sets of the show, I found every actor talking about the script. And, it was very rare. Actors generally do not discuss script so much. But here the script was written with such precision that all we had to do was be there in the frame and follow what was written. No actor can portray a character with brilliance unless it is written well, and in Paatal Lok, every character was written so well that I became a fan of its script.
How did you manage to pull off police remand scenes?
Actually, it was my audition scene as well, and since then it has been my favourite scene. I haven’t smoked ever in my life, and the moment I put the cigarette in my mouth for the scene, it bothered me. But it was my first scene with Jaideep Ahlawat sir, and when you are sitting with a good actor, you automatically get that energy to perform. However, the moment the director called cut, I went out and drank lemonade.
Chaku was a negative character. Was it difficult to come out of it after the shoot?
Definitely, it is difficult for an actor to come out of his character, but with experience, you learn the art of disconnecting as well. I have been acting from the past 15 years and have learnt that when you are portraying a character, it is temporary. After it’s over, you have to come out of it.
There is hardly any on-screen portrayal of the caste discrimination in Punjab. Do you think this makes Tope Singh’s story important?
Not only Tope Singh, but every story in Paatal Lok is important. Sudip Sharma has touched important issues through different characters. He thought he can portray Punjab’s caste discrimination through Tope Singh and showcase discrimination against Muslims through Kabir M’s character.
Did you get to learn from Neeraj Kabi and Jaideep Ahlawat?
Both of them are very senior actors, and I was nervous to meet them in person for the first time. But they made me very comfortable. I learnt a lot from Jaideep Ahlawat sir. It is not that he taught me something specifically. His sheer honesty towards work gave me important lessons. In fact, I think I have learnt from everyone who was present on Paatal Lok’s set, be it a technician or an actor.
Any message to the producer of the show Anushka Sharma?
I am grateful to producer Anushka Sharma for believing in my talent and also for creating such wonderful content. Very few web series are being made which touch subjects and issues that are an integral part of our country’s milieu, but Paatal Lok does that unabashedly.
Who are your favourite characters of Paatal Lok?
One of my favourites is Chaku and the other is Abhishek Banerjee’s Hathoda Tyagi. I know Hathi Ram’s character is the protagonist of this story, but I believe every character is as important as his character be it Hathi Ram’s son Siddharth, Cheeni or Kabir M.
This was your first project on OTT platforms. What do you think about the medium?
Web series brings you closer to reality. While working on it, you grow as an actor. They are authentic. For instance, in Paatal Lok, they hired actors from Punjab and Chitrakoot to portray the parts set in that city and town. So, now actors from smaller towns need not necessarily come to Mumbai to become an actor. There are chances of them finding work while being in their native towns only. All they need to do is, just become good actors.
Also read | Jaideep Ahlawat on Paatal Lok success: We were shocked for initial two days | Paatal Lok review: An intelligently written, engrossing series | Paatal Lok: Journey to the dark side | Was unsure of pulling off Hathoda Tyagi in Paatal Lok: Abhishek Banerjee
Theater, films and web series, what do you prefer?
I don’t think anything can match the feeling of watching thousands of people standing in front of you and applauding your work. This can happen only when you do theatre. But yes, in web series, this applause is replaced by messages. So, I like theatre and web series more than films.
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