Interview | Jaideep Ahlawat feels actors are prisms: One should not take credit for the beam

As Jaideep Ahlawat returns to play a scribe sans scruples in ‘The Broken News’, the versatile actor reflects on his craft and concerns

April 24, 2024 01:39 pm | Updated 04:04 pm IST

Jaideep Ahlawat returns as newsman Deepankar Sanyal in ‘The Broken News’

Jaideep Ahlawat returns as newsman Deepankar Sanyal in ‘The Broken News’

A Hindi film actor who likes to converse in the language of his medium, Jaideep Ahlawat has emerged as a force to reckon with in the last four years. “I always had the goods but the delivery has happened now,” says Jaideep with his trademark half-smile as we settle down for a chat on the sidelines of the promotion of the second season of Zee5’s The Broken News, a deep-dive into the politics of news that probes the moral ambiguity of the news presenters.

Though he started in 2010, the breakthrough, Jaideep says, came withPaatal Lok (2020). As Hathiram Chaudhary, Jaideep got over his big frame to express the vulnerability of the harried Haryanvi cop of Delhi Police and in the process almost became the animal after which the character was named. “When Vishal (Bhardwaj) sir complemented me saying, ‘you were always around; we missed out on your range’, I realised that doors have finally been opened.”

Jaideep followed it up with two more explorations of the human mind in Jaane Jaan and Three of Us.

“I don’t like to create the character. I let the character rearrange me by doing multiple readings of the script. Jaane Jaan’s Naren, to me, felt like a man caught in his shrunken existence.”

“My job is to immerse myself into the light, the vision of the writer and director, so that it passes through smoothly,” says Ahlawat

“My job is to immerse myself into the light, the vision of the writer and director, so that it passes through smoothly,” says Ahlawat

Once again he had to get over the physicality of the character to get to the core of a conflicted mindscape. “Though Naren practices martial art and is a math genius, he cannot express his emotions to the neighbour he adores. It may be because of the way he looks but the complex has created a certain tightness inside him which, I felt, should reflect in his walk. The screenplay provided me the opportunity as there were scenes of him walking to his workplace and back. When I started, I had a vague idea of how he would walk but it took me days to get it right. If you look closely, Naren’s walk in the first couple of scenes is a bit different from the later portions because I was still working on it.”

After reading the script of Three of Us, Avinash Arun’s whimsical take on what happens when unfinished relationships resurface in life, Jaideep says he felt they are not people like us. “I realised they don’t have a second layer or a second agenda. From his back story, I found the character of Pradeep Kamat is quite feminine from deep inside. Not into socialising, I felt he took to embroidery to express himself but he is very comfortable in his skin.”

Jaideep says it is not that Pradeep doesn’t want his childhood friend Shailaja (Shefali Shah) back into his space. “After all, she is his last memory of happy times, someone on whom he could dust off his frustration. But he doesn’t let it come to the surface. He doesn’t manipulate the situation. When Shailaja asks him to take her around the village, he doesn’t hide it from his wife but he doesn’t seek her permission either. He simply tells her and she says he should. There is no element of jealousy. It was refreshing to work on such a pure, satvik soul.”

An alumnus of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Jaideep sees an actor as a vessel or a prism through which light passes to create a rainbow of images. “One should not take credit for the beam. My job is to immerse myself into the light, the vision of the writer and director, so that it passes through smoothly. Having said that a lot depends on the quality of light,” the half-smile returns.

However, his chaste Hindi didn’t blend with the authentic Konkani background of Three of Us. “We raised the point but Avinash wanted to keep it that way. A Hindi film with a Marathi backdrop. He was against using two words of Marathi and then switching to Hindi.”

Talking about the motivations of Deepankar Sanyal, a scribe sans scruples in The Broken News, Jaideep says he comes from a modest background. “A village where people were socio-politically dumb and deaf. When he became their voice through honest journalism, he didn’t get his due. So when he got the opportunity to play the game, he switched to sensationalism. We have seen such examples around us.”

Hoping that a section of the media would introspect, Jaideep, who hails from Hisar, the centre of Haryana politics, remembers the time when there was just one news bulletin that delivered the news of the day straightforwardly. “One day when we were told that there would be a 24-hour news channel, we, as young boys, got excited but wondered how they get so many news stories. We didn’t imagine that news could be created or cooked as well,” Jaideep signs off.

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