Man of many parts
Actor Amit Sadh dishes out his philosophy over a plate of sweets
Moments into our meeting with Amit Sadh, he tells us something we didn’t expect to hear — that he is writing a book. Tentatively titled Nobody’s Listening, it is Sadh’s attempt at cutting through what he sees as the deception and posturing in everyday life in India — from the elevation of gymming to national sport to the dejection at the passing of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. The book will take a while, he says, for he is a “writer by ideology, not by skill.”
Meanwhile, he’ll continue to work on his real skill — acting. His recent turn as Omi in Kai Po Che, where he plays the son of a priest who is lured into right-wing politics, received widespread acclaim. “For me the film was life changing. It consumed me. And I needed something like that at that point in life when I was going through self-doubt. I got so much rejection that I thought maybe acting is not for me. When this film came, I put all my frustrations in it…It cleansed me, it calmed me down.”
Life has got busier for Sadh since Kai Po Che, bringing a flurry of film offers. In the sliver of free time that he had he decided to do a trek in the Himalayas. It is during his brief pit stop in Delhi that we meet. Café Uno in Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel is glowing in the late afternoon sun, and Sadh has a plate full of sweets — kaju barfi, kesar barfi, rabdi — in front of him. “I love Indian food. But unfortunately we have all become Angrez. We have started calling rotis Indian bread.”
Prior to films, he acted in a few television serials too. But he wouldn’t want to bracket himself as either a film or television actor. “I am just an actor…They are two different mediums with different viewerships, but as an actor I work between ‘action’ and ‘cut’.” That said, he does agree that acting in a film is a more satisfying experience. “It felt like what I was doing on TV was not acting. The character comes out only in a film. I had a beginning and an end, I had a graph,” he says.
He has a visit to Pandara Road lined up for later in the day, for its famed butter chicken joints. It is a rare opportunity to indulge, before he is back to his regimented actor’s diet in Mumbai. “Food is good in both the cities. But I get pampered here when I visit my friends. Food is something you enjoy when you are fed with love. There is no one who does that in Bombay,” Sadh says wistfully.
“I am the only guy who leaves evidence that he’s eaten. People say I am a clumsy eater, I tell them ‘you eat like it’s your duty’. Food is a spiritual thing for me, I immerse myself in it,” he adds. One of the things he plans to attack in his book is the fad of dieting. “It is important to eat with moderation, and to eat according to your hunger, but one must eat everything…I eat so much red meat, that if I hit someone he won’t be able to get up,” he adds theatrically.
Sadh hates the kitchen. “They say cooking is very therapeutic, but I never felt that way. I used to cook on a stove at home. I used to get angry just by looking at it. I would just throw some rice and dal into it, and leave it to cook, and invariably it would get burnt. But I would be so tired that I didn’t care. That’s the cooking I have done. But by god’s grace I have a cook now.”
Sadh’s next is a film with UTV which he doesn’t want to reveal much about. But he says he would like to challenge himself with a few “brainless movies”. “In Hollywood, they make fake movies with so much reality. I watched Avatar and The Dark Knight and I cried. And when we make real-life stories, there’s nothing more fake than that.”