From a character artiste to playing the central character, actor Sanjay Mishra has come a long way. This week he will be seen in Rajat Kapoor’s “Aankhon Dekhi”, where he is leading an ensemble of talented actors.
Excerpts from an interview:
What is the film trying to say?
It is about bauji, the head of a joint family which lives in Old Delhi. Bauji has lived all his life doing what is considered to be right. But now that he has crossed 50, he wants to live the way he wants to. And his point is that he won’t believe in what he has not seen. Right from childhood we are trained into believing what is right and what is wrong. We seldom question. Through Bauji the film is trying to question the stereotypes that we live with. Often people tell us that a particular relative or a neighbour is not of good character or behaviour and we believe their point of view but when we meet that person the reality is often different. How his change in outlook affects his life and the life of the family members is the story.
You are often slotted as a character artist who is good at comedy?
These days everything is slotted. Today, I saw an advertisement which slotted “Aankhon Dekhi” as a comedy, which I feel it is not. It has multiple shades but people like to bracket each and everything. Similarly every actor in a film plays a character. Then why only some actors are labelled as character artistes? It is unfair. I am grateful to Rajat for writing a central character keeping me in mind. Otherwise, even the media also loves to bracket people.
How did you meet Rajat?
We met on the sets of “Phans Gaye Re Obama” and realised that he is a very rooted person. There he talked about a character like bauji. Before that I used to feel that he is very westernised and we can’t be on the same page but as I said one should believe on one’s own experience.
Do you think the audience’s perception of acting is changing?
Definitely. It is because of increasing exposure to mass media. They no longer go by reputation or lineage. They believe in what they see on screen. If a person is entertaining them they will go with him. Fixed notions like hero’s entry and dialoguebaazi are on the wane. However, I am miffed by the formula of television news where the standard of language is coming down and everything including physical assault on a woman is juiced up for a eyeballs.
You have recently worked with Amitabh Bachchan in “Bhootnath Returns”…
Yes, I am playing the lawyer of Bhootnath in the film. When Bhootnath decides to fight elections, the lawyer helps him. I have always admired his passion for cinema. He is a cultural phenomenon in our society. His discipline and dedication is worth emulating. And we can see that around us when old people see him as a role model. He has made 70s cool. I am also working with Salman Khan in “Kick” and Yash Raj’s “Dum Laga Ke Haisha”. Big films provide easy visibility. For a film like “Aankhon Dekhi” you have to call friends and hope that the word of mouth spreads.