In the city to promote his forthcoming film ‘John Day’, Randeep Hooda tells us what it takes to play his darkest character yet
For someone who has made a name for playing the intense, brooding character, Randeep Hooda can talk. Between witty one-liners, he spoke to us about the darkest role he has essayed till date. His latest film John Day revolves around the lives of two people who seem poles apart – John Day, played by Naseeruddin Shah, is a god-fearing family man – “a man of principles and scruples” according to Randeep. On the other end is Gautam Sawant, a sadistic police officer played by Randeep. “He is someone who hates the world and believes the feelings are mutual so he derives great pleasure in inflicting pain on his fellow human beings. He was wronged as a child and spends his whole life avenging that.” reveals Randeep adding that the film is essentially about the “fruitlessness of revenge and the ultimate truth of forgiveness.”
Gautam Sawant, Randeep reveals, is ‘absolutely black’. “He grew up in an orphanage and was wronged by the very people he trusts and holds that grudge against the world while growing up, so much so that as an adult he will crush people even before they can come near him.” Interestingly Randeep confesses to deriving information for this beast of a character from a rather strange place. “Because I was playing someone so cruel I didn’t know how to go about it. So I asked director Solomon and we decided that we would model his cruelty on the cruelty of children because children can be cruel!” He explains, “I have seen kids take apart an insect leg by leg, wing by wing, enjoying every bit of it. This is mainly because they don’t understand that it is also a living being which feels pain.”
Randeep has friend and guide Naseeruddin Shah to thank for his career turnaround after a rough start. “He advised me not to try and ‘plan my career’; since then I have made up my mind to say ‘yes’ more than ‘no’. I have tried to do films not just for myself but also by keeping in mind a certain marquee value.” he says.
However, the actor feels like he has a long way to go; “I’m definitely in a better place today; I don’t have to sell stuff to pay rent anymore!” he jokes, “but I wouldn’t take all the credit for it because I’m sure there is some universal factor working for me. But yes, I did change my attitude towards cinema and I’ve begun to appreciate all the efforts that go into making a movieand I think that has made a difference.”
However, the role did take its toll. “From John Day to Highway to shooter, these heavy, emotionally laden characters do have an effect on me personally as well. My friends started asking me what’s wrong because I’d stopped smiling or talking too much. So when Sajid Nadiawalla called me to play a role in Kick, he said ‘Your father is not being killed, your mother was not raped, your sister is still alive, everything is hunky-dory,’ and I said ‘Thank you for this holiday, I’ll take it!”