Was Sonu a demanding character to play?
When I first started out, I had watched a lot of C-grade films and it was my dream to act in one. This is because in my village, C-grade films were the only form of entertainment. There, they’d add a clip or two of a sex scene. So when I started out as an actor, I told myself, “ I’d act in a sex scene and get paid for it!” But by the time I started acting, these films were no longer produced.
When I read the script for Miss Lovely, a lot of it was similar to what I had seen growing up. I was now supposed to play a character that was set in a space that I had once aspired to be a part of. There are also a lot of actors from the C-grade film industry in the film and the biggest challenge was to match up to their performance. Their performance was very raw, unconventional, and I was used to giving fine performances. There was a lot of blending, unlearning required to match up to their performance. It is like telling a singer to sing out of tune.
What did you learn from working with actors from the C-grade film industry?
I learnt a lot from the C-grade film actors, about their approach towards life. They are very focussed. They come to the sets, do their job and leave without any inhibitions. Amateur actors have a lot of other things on their mind — jealousy, competitiveness — and that shows onscreen. I had worked with some actors from the C-grade film industry when I first came to Mumbai and lived with them too. Over the years, I have evolved as a person as well as an actor but while working with them on Miss Lovely, I realised that nothing had changed for them. They were just as focussed.
What is the essence of the character you play?
I play a producer of C-grade films who is madly in love with an actress. It is this obsession that compels him to make a C-grade film called Miss Lovely. It is nearly difficult for him to do so, but he’s willing to make the film against all odds. His brother also makes porn films, but what Sonu has in mind is a different kind of a film for the love of his life. The project never takes off, but he is willing to go to any extent to make this film.
What was the most satisfying part of the film?
There is a scene where Sonu returns to Mumbai after having spent several years in jail. By this time, C-grade cinema has changed completely — there are no sets, no crews. He wants to reconnect with his brother. One day, he finds himself in the office of a woman who had approached him once asking for work. She warns him, “Yahaan mat aana, main ab izzatdaar kaam karti hun.” Later, she offers him some biscuits, which Sonu readily accepts since he is famished. As he munches on the biscuits, he watches the woman walk away and smiles. That smile, there is more to it than meets the eye. This is the kind of rejection I have seen in my life too. I too braved such situations with a smile.
Is there an artiste from the C-grade film industry you admire?
I feel Dada Kondke’s performance has been underrated and often dismissed as that of a C-grade film actor, but there is a sense of rawness he brings to the character. He is sure to tickle your funny bone. I hope I can perform like him someday.