Quiz master-turned-actor Siddhartha Basu talks of his role in Shoojit Sircar’s Madras Café
The suave chairman and managing director of television content company Big Synergy Media Limited, Siddhartha Basu, surprises us. Talking of his role in Shoojit Sircar’s Madras Café, he reveals he was very worried that he would ruin the latter’s film by “coming off as a theatrical ham”! This comes from a man who has a fair deal of theatre background, and who has marked time as a quiz master (anchoring as well as producing some of the biggest shows — Quiz Time, Kaun Banega Crorepati and Dus Ka Dum, to name a few). “I used to be on stage at one time, and have done a little TV too, but both on stage and as a TV host and coach, performance, pitch and projection are par for the course. Only on the big screen, you need to nuance it differently, and for this, the best guide is the director and the video assist, on which you can play back what you've just shot,” he says.
Shoojit, who began his career with Synergy, had a lot of convincing to do to get Siddhartha on board his film. Thanks to Shoojit’s perseverance, Siddhartha plays Robin Dutt, or RD, a key bureaucrat in the country’s external intelligence agency. “Mine is a supporting role. RD sends Vikram Singh (the part played by John Abraham) for covert operations connected with Indian intervention in the Sri Lankan civil war and its aftermath,” he says.
Shortly after Madras Café, Siddhartha will be seen essaying a role in Anurag Kashyap’s Bombay Velvet. Does that open up a new vista altogether? “Getting to know the field as a player is interesting and enjoyable. And yes, I’m doing a small role in Bombay Velvet; that of a barrister and a political power player.”
With Karan Johar and adman Piyush Pandey too taking to acting, casting differently seems to be catching on. What makes directors take such a casting call? “Different strokes for different folks, I guess. You'll have to ask them. As for me, it’s just been a natural response to filmmakers whose work I like, and a nice change from putting together a TV show, not really a pre-planned career or life move,” he says and signs off.