Saurabh Shukla with director Kaushik Ganguly (left)
Saurabh Shukla with director Kaushik Ganguly (left)

Saurabh Shukla has wowed the audience with his performance in critically-acclaimed films like Satya, Jolly LLB, PK, Barfi, to name a few. And, now he will be seen in a prominent role in ace Bengali director Kaushik Ganguly's Hindi debut, Manohar Pandey. The movie, produced by Surinder Films Private Limited, under Nispal Singh and Surinder Singh, will also feature actors Supriya Pathak and Raghubir Yadav in pivotal roles. The Cinema Journal caught up with the veteran actor to about his new movie, making a film during the lockdown, the rise of OTT among other things. Excerpts from the interview:

Tell us about your role in Manohar Pandey.

It is a wonderful film by Kaushikda (Ganguly) and I have a very interesting role. It is his first Hindi film and I am quite sure it will be an entertaining one. The script is outstanding. It is a very relatable story and I’m sure everyone will love it.

What is the movie about?

You know we are shooting in different parts of Bengal and it is a very enriching experience to look at the city from a whole new perspective. The plot of the film is based around an extramarital affair of a middle-aged couple in the middle of a worldwide plague that leads to an eternal togetherness. Along with Supriya and Raghubir, I am actually discovering new things about human relationships. It has been a fun ride.

You also made a film during the lockdown featuring yourself...

Yes, I have. Lockdown was the time for some introspection and I decided to use this free time to do something meaningful. It is a journey into the human psyche. I am the writer, director and the only character in the film. The concept is a little cerebral, but I think people will like it. It is more about what all a man can do on his own, if left to himself.

Do you think the film industry has finally come to respect character actors?

Yes, it has come a long way. Character actors get a lot of respect and money as well these days. In fact there are no lead actors in some films now. Earlier, one was typecast into comic roles or other stereotypical roles. But now there is more variety in the writing and execution. So yes, things have changed.

Have OTT platforms aided that cause?

Yes, OTT has made it possible for character actors to dominate. Also, acting skills are given prominence here apart from storytelling. The medium is new and a lot more needs to be explored. But it is a good thing that Indians are walking away from shackles of huge star casts. But no medium can eat into the other’s viability. OTT will co-exist with TV and theatre.

Has political interference in content made things difficult?

Political interference in creative mediums is not new. It exists all over the world. But it cannot dictate a creative venture. It all depends on how you do it, in terms of treatment. It has to be done in a way so that things are not on your face, yet you have made a strong point. There are various ways of doing things. You have to figure it out right!

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