Actor Sanjay Mishra as a Representative of the Unknown Indian

by July 7, 2018 0 comments

Actor Sanjay Mishra, an alumnus of NSD who is known for his unconventional and soulful roles in Bollywood, believes in becoming the other face of the Indian that is unknown to audience.

Actor Sanjay Mishra literally believes in American playwright Clare Luce’s succinct observation, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” As somebody who completely dissolves into the common characters that he enacts onscreen, he says he doesn’t overthink his roles or even his choice of them. “It’s very simple. I don’t read scripts at all, I like the scripts being read out to me. If I am able to see the entire movie in my mind with the character while hearing, then I am in. At least that’s my first criteria,” he tells us on the sidelines of the recently concluded Jagran film festival. “Other than that, I’m a very emotional person. I say yes to whichever film strikes the emotional core of my being. And I reject roles where I am required to be a caricature of an oppressor, like in romantic films where I’m to play a strict father of a girl who wants to marry another boy he has issues with. So, it’s quite a simplified process for me.”

For somebody who debuted and made a mark on television with the popular Office Office, Mishra’s acting chops drew mainstream attention with his performances in indie films like Masaan and Ankhon Dekhi.

But he won’t go back to television soon though he doesn’t disown it at all. Says Mishra, “I worked for television a lot and it was fun too. But after a point, I realised that the content of TV is degrading. If you ask me what went wrong, I will put it in a very desi way, ‘Sab chaat ki dukaan ban gaya hai (Everything has become like a snack shop).’ So long as a recipe works for  everyone, everybody will churn out the same staple. They don’t want to come out of their comfort zone and try something new and unique.”

Mishra believes that content writers are scared to write anything new because of fear of failure. “Writers are so hemmed in by the revenue and funding imperatives that they don’t realise there might be a flip side and the audience might actually love a show that is unique.” In films, he says, “The situation is not that bad as yet. There have been Kadvi Hawa and Ankhon Dekhi and young filmmakers want to tell a good story. Big banners still rely on formula but the smaller films have forced them to change their tack a bit.”

Having worked in a lot of independent projects, Mishra says he does them because “there are stories that need to be heard. Movies made by independent filmmakers are really the ones that deserve the kind of attention that movies with banners do.

I’m not saying all of them produce great work but I think everyone should have an equal opportunity to reach out to the audience. I hope that the flat world of the internet changes the dynamics as these independent projects are gaining traction.”

The 54-year-old actor, known and appreciated for his rustic acting and originality, credits his fans for lasting so long. But now he feels it’s enough. So he wants to hit pause button, breathe easy and focus on his life. “I’ve hustled a lot now. I wanted to become an actor and I’m blessed to have been given the opportunity to become one. I have tried to give a voice to the grassroots with  roles that have had a social impact, sometimes through comedy. As long as I am offered good scripts that tell a story I’m personally emotionally attached to, I’ll work. If I don’t, I won’t look back with anger or regret. I’ve made my parents, myself and my kids proud.”

After that, there’s the commune of artists. “I want to build a cultural hub for myself and the young ones who need a roof over their heads to chase their dream and live a simple life, like how we used to live in the good old days.” A rare chip of the old block.

Writer: Shambavi Suri

Courtesy: The Pioneer

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