In the climax of 16 December, director Mani Shankar told Sushant Singh to run yelling Bharat Mata Ki Jai! “I asked him, ‘don’t you think that sounds a bit corny?’” says Sushant who was in town on a flying visit.
“But since Mani asked me to do it, I said okay, I will. And I did. That scene was a big hit. People clapped!”
And that is how Sushant considers himself, a director’s actor. “On the sets, the director is the captain. The film is his vision. I like to have discussions with a director before I say yes to a film. There shouldn’t be discussions on set as that just hampers work.”
Sushant may not have reached the heights of stardom, but he is among Bollywood’s most talented actors. Even though he isn’t particularly choosy about roles, he likes to study a character well before he essays it. “I concentrate on every aspect of the character, from his look to what clothes he will wear. What I like to crack is how the character thinks.”
Among his prominent roles are Durga Narayan Chowdhury in Jungle and Sukhdev in The Legend of Bhagat Singh. “Sukhdev was the toughest role. I worked very hard for Jungle, but it was child’s play compared to Sukhdev. On the first day of the shoot, I told the assistant that I don’t want to come near the monitor. So we took a wide shot and after the scene, the assistant nodded his head. It went well. But even after that, everyday was tough. I remember crying thinking about how 21-year-olds had gone through such injustice.” Sushant gets tired when people only talk about Bhagat Singh, however. “I don’t like to live in the past. It’s been more than a decade since the movie was made. But when I think of what a big opportunity it was, I want to live up to it.”
Sushant is at present the anchor for the crime show Savdhaan India on Life Ok Channel. “I never thought I would stick to any show for more than a year. But it’s been two years that I have been hosting this show. It is about how you can prevent crimes from occurring, apart from just narrating a true crime story.” He adds that there is a huge difference in being an actor and an anchor. “You have to be authoritative, believable and honest.”
There are plenty of crime shows, and in each of them, the police seems to be excellent at solving every case, but is that really a true depiction? “The police are also corrupt. But let us not focus on only one aspect. We’ve also shown corrupt cops. Think about it. In our day-to-day lives, when you step out of the house, you are assured of returning home safe. You also know your family will be all right. Somewhere the system keeps people safe. If it’s true that the system is completely at fault, then what is stopping thieves and murderers from stealing and killing? It is up to us to ensure the system operates properly.”
Sushant says maximum crime is committed against women, the elderly and children. “Sexual assault on children is a big problem, but it is often ignored. It happens within the home. It’s a serious issue.”