Vicky Kaushal is a chameleon when it comes to acting and transformations. From Masaan to Raazi to Uri: The Surgical Strike, in his short career span of less than a decade, Vicky has played diverse characters in movies from different genres.
While Masaan brought him under the spotlight, it was Uri that elevated him in the Bollywood solar system as a star. And, now, after playing an army officer, he is set to step into the shoes of the freedom fighter, Sardar Udham Singh.
Titled Sardar Udham and directed by Shoojit Sircar, the movie’s trailer was released recently on Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s 114th birth anniversary. The movie releases on October 16 on Amazon Prime Video.
Calling the movie an emotional journey, Vicky says, “Uri was more of a physical process, and it was essential to comprehend and analyse the body language of an Indian army officer. Sardar Udham has been an emotional journey, and the preparation was to understand the core of the character. It was more about how I was breathing than about how I was walking or moving around. It was indeed a big responsibility to essay the role of Sardar Udham Singh because here was a man, who has made the ultimate sacrifice for his nation,” says the National Film Award winner.
The movie chronicles the story of a lesser-known Indian revolutionary, Sardar Udham Singh, who assassinated Michael O’Dwyer to avenge the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Vicky describes the role as the toughest of his career. “It was nerve-racking at times to even understand how he could harbour the thought — of taking revenge and avenging the death of those killed in Jallianwala Bagh — for almost two decades. I had to understand the psyche of the man who had lived this moment. How he held that thought together for years, and he did not change one bit to achieve his goal. A line in the film says, ‘I don’t feel pain, and I don’t get sleep’. And that is what happened to me. I was wondering how he managed to do that, and I would freeze in my thoughts,” he says.
Sharing how he spent sleepless nights while prepping for the role, Vicky shares, “As an actor, you start play-acting the role, and soon you start living the character and his thoughts. There is also a portion when he experiences the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy. Honestly, that rouses and shakes you up. I could not sleep at night during the shooting, merely thinking how a man could have lived and experienced this. It wasn’t a week or a month but 21 years of his life, which is almost like his entire life. If I could not get that feeling when I was acting, I wouldn’t have been able to perform it. If I even got one per cent of what he was thinking, and it was a heavy and impactful feeling, imagine what Sardar Udham would have gone through.”
When the shoot for the movie commenced, Vicky had a cracked jaw, 13 stitches and a scar on his face owing to an injury. “I called Shoojitda and informed him. So, the scar I have in the film is real and got incorporated in the film. I have different identities in the film and I needed varied looks to depict different age groups,” says the Raazi actor, who played a Pakistani army man in the Meghna Gulzar directorial. “The army man belongs to a certain country and is supposed to perform his duty — whichever role I perform has to justify the character,” is Vicky’s refrain.
Vicky surmises that the film is not the story of Sardar Udham alone. “Our film is not a biopic of Sardar Udham Singh, but it is a biopic of his ideologies. There is nothing time-bound about the dogmas that you adhere to. They never fade. The truth will remain the same — be it in the past, present or in the future. Ditto with emotions. They always assume some form. People have connected earlier and will continue to do so,” he adds.
Vicky believes in teamwork and credits the efforts of every person involved in the making of a film. “As an actor, one puts his best into every scene. Emotional scenes and action sequences take a lot out of you mentally and physically, and that is the high you get. Everyone says you are a star when the film does well. But I don’t necessarily congratulate myself. It is the effort of the entire team. Everyone puts in their best into a film,” he signs off.
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