An actor par excellence but, more importantly, a man with a heart that feels love in a pretentious little world… RANDEEP HOODA shares with PRATISHTHA MALHOTRA the many things that help him not lose his mind.
Do you remember being pleasantly surprised by yourself while watching a film of yours?
No, I don’t get surprised watching myself in films although I don’t remember what happened during the shot. I only recall what happened outside the shot. When you think that this is how a certain character is going to go and suddenly while doing it, there is a surprise – I like that the most and it is the most fruitful part for me in my profession. You know, you have to leave yourself open to it and to be able to do that is a very scary thing. That is the most interesting and challenging part. I don’t go and watch the monitor and stuff while shooting. It is always a conversation between me, myself and probably the director.
Much importance is given to vanity which contradicts with the fact that an actor has to look the part in a film. What is your take on this, as we have seen you prep for your characters in a way which is rarely seen in Hindi films?
Firstly, I would like to take that as a huge compliment…Thank you very much! (Smiles) I hope that I can continue with it… you never know (Laughs)! It is the least you can do, in my opinion. It is not the hardest part of your job, for sure. The biggest compliment people can give me or what I aim for is that after a certain point, you should forget that you are watching Randeep and that, I think, is the victory. That would be what I would consider victory. You can’t strive for it but just go about it and hopefully it comes about. But that is not always the case either. I think it is a very vulnerable job to be in – films, it’s even more vulnerable being an actor. No matter which actor it is, whether he is considered a good actor or a not-so-good actor, the point is that every actor gives it their best in every shot. There is vulnerability and insecurity and I find that very interesting about actors.
Our country follows and worships cinema literally, has there been any moment when the impact of cinema has been so powerful that your perception of things changed?
There are many films which have impacted me. GULAMI had an immense impact on me. There was a silent film by Kamal Haasan, PUSHPAK – it was something else. I was like, ‘No one is saying anything but everyone understands every emotion’. Movies like MIRCH MASALA affected me a lot. When I saw this larger than life man in this rural atmosphere and those women struggling… The characters were so beautiful, life came through it! MY LEFT FOOT, I saw and went like, ‘How is it possible?’ Of course the popular culture (films) like ROCKY and many more films. I like films and have always liked watching them. There is an escape, a journey which a good film can take you on. It can make you alive to a lot of emotions that you have brushed under the carpet. It can bring about a new thought process. I mean, you can watch a good romantic film and think about how maybe you have not been good in loving someone. Films are a great medium to engage but the film doesn’t necessarily have to be something which caters to everyone universally. In India, we tend to make films and generalise or dilute them from their authenticity so it reaches a larger audience as we have many cultures in our country. I always feel that if you want to go global you have got to go local. It is a great medium and especially because of the lack of space and other things to do to entertain yourself or others around you, films step in to entertain yourself.
Speaking of SARBJIT, were there moments when the extreme change in your physicality for a character started to take a toll on you emotionally?
Of course! It is a b****. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I did not spend 22 years in prison, out of which 18 were in solitary confinement! ‘You didn’t go through it, it is a character… you have done it, it is finished, now be happy!’ (Laughs) It is a constant struggle somewhere as all my characters have stayed within me. Sometimes they come out at the wrong time. It is not how I would react. Sometimes I wonder, who am I? I have become a khichdi…!
So you also bring your characters home with you while spurts of them remain for a long time?
No, I don’t bring them home – they are home, they don’t come from outside my home! They come from within my home… (Chuckles) Also, a lot of the qualities that Sarbjit has, I have them already. His love for animals, being naughty, romanticism, enjoying life and then to be able to have the capacity to survive and not lose your head. But what happens is, by the time the film is released, you have moved on to some other character and his priorities are yours now. You know, after HIGHWAY there is something about my face that has changed. After MAIN AUR CHARLES, there is something about my smile that has changed. I can’t get rid of it. I don’t know what I will discover after SARBJIT.
Looking back, do you think you would have done it any other way or are you content?
I wish I was more disciplined and worked harder. There is a lot that goes on and very little is captured on camera…I wish there was a lot more that could be captured on camera.