“It’s Not Too Late My Time Will Come!” -Ab­hi­manyu Singh

Stardust (English) - - WILD ENCOUNTER - Words NAZIFA CHARANIA

From his first film Aks to his lat­est MOM, AB­HI­MANYU SINGH is the man who has given spine-chill­ing per­for­mances in ev­ery char­ac­ter he has por­trayed in Tol­ly­wood and Bollywood. His ven­omous red-eyed stare on the big-screen has the power to give the au­di­ence goose bumps in ‘reel life’. And now this bad­die of B-town is on the hunt for more. As in­tim­i­dat­ing as his per­son­al­ity might seem, this man is in­deed a true gen­tle­man in real life. So now what’s next? Let’s spill the beans… You have worked in sev­eral Tamil, Tel­ugu, and Hindi films. How has your ex­pe­ri­ence been play­ing dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters in var­ied gen­res? It has been a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence on the whole be­cause work­ing in dif­fer­ent lan­guages gives you the op­por­tu­nity to be more skil­ful. By that I mean not know­ing the lan­guage per­fectly but still de­liv­er­ing the con­tent, up­grades your skills. I be­lieve this has been a strength­en­ing process for me, it has given my act­ing skills a lot of strength al­to­gether.

You have un­doubt­edly made your mark in Bollywood, was it an easy route or were there hur­dles that came your way?

It hasn’t been an easy ride for me. Be­ing some­one who has come from Patna, hav­ing done my school­ing from a small town. My turn­ing point was at the time when I went to Stephens Col­lege which is sup­posed to be one of the best col­leges in In­dia. So when I was there, I met a lot of the ‘cream’ crowd. And my ex­po­sure to life, ed­u­ca­tion, and to the world came in the foray. And then from there on, I started dream­ing of be­com­ing an ac­tor. Af­ter do­ing my grad­u­a­tion when I came to Mum­bai, thank­fully I stuck to one theatre group called Ansh with Makarand Desh­pande who taught me act­ing. I got the op­por­tu­nity to play a lot of lead roles and a va­ri­ety of char­ac­ters in his plays. From there, I grad­u­ally got into tele­vi­sion, and then films. And now I am here, and I still feel I have a long way to go.

Did you as­pire to be­come an ac­tor since child­hood?

I was in my 20s when I ac­tu­ally started dream­ing of be­com­ing an ac­tor

You have given a phe­nom­e­nal per­for­mance in your lat­est film MOM, how did it come your way?

Mukesh Ch­habra sug­gested my name to the di­rec­tor of the film, who im­me­di­ately rec­ol­lected my per­for­mance as Ransa in Gu­laal and he in­sisted on meet­ing me. And the mo­ment he met me, he was pretty sure that I was going to do this role. And for me, get­ting an op­por­tu­nity to work with Sridevi was like a dream come true. I just wanted to grab the op­por­tu­nity and it was a meaty role. So I just said, ‘I will do it.’

How was your ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing along­side one of the finest artistes in the in­dus­try, Sridevi. Could you share a few anec­dotes?

I find my­self lucky to have a co-star like Sridevi. Sridevi could have treated me like a com­mon ac­tor but she treated me with a lot of re­spect. And I am say­ing this be­cause we straight away started film­ing for the cli­max. We were shoot­ing for it in Ge­or­gia and the weather was – 9 de­grees. I was stand­ing in the snow, and I was giv­ing my 100 per cent. Even when I was not in the frame, I was stand­ing there to give cues. That’s when she started lik­ing my pro­fes­sion­al­ism. She told Boney ji that this ac­tor makes a lot of sense, ev­ery time I look at him, he is in his char­ac­ter. Af­ter packup, Boney ji told me, ‘I have never heard Sri ap­pre­ci­at­ing some­one so much in a long time’.

Dur­ing such hec­tic shoot­ing sched­ules, how do you main­tain a balance be­tween your per­sonal and pro­fes­sional life?

When I am not shoot­ing, I try to spend time with my kids, wife, friends, and fam­ily. And I try to be around na­ture, I try to mix with com­mon peo­ple, and catch up with my old friends.

How do you keep your­self mo­ti­vated on a dull day? What is your re­cre­ation ther­apy?

I keep think­ing about my past when I was not this suc­cess­ful. When I used to travel by bus and train, when I was liv­ing in Khar East Rail­way Quar­ters so that mo­ti­vates me that at least to­day, I am grow­ing, I can have a very good life­style now. I own a Land Rover, my kids are going to ex­pen­sive schools. All of these thoughts mo­ti­vate me that I am going a step fur­ther and not be­hind. I com­pletely be­lieve in this phrase that slow and steady

wins the race. Now as you said, some days are very dull, you feel you de­serve a lit­tle more. As an ac­tor, you feel you should have meaty roles or main pro­tag­o­nist char­ac­ters in films and when you don’t have, you feel sad about it. But then I con­vince my­self that maybe it’s not too late, my time will come.

Are you in a happy space? Are you sat­is­fied with your ca­reer graph?

As a fam­ily man, I am very happy, I love my wife, my kids. But if you ask me whether I am happy as a cre­ative per­son then I am not. I feel that I can do much more than what I am do­ing. I am not sat­is­fied with the kind of roles I am get­ting for sure, I want more meaty roles. I feel I am way more ca­pa­ble of do­ing much more good stuff.

If not an ac­tor, what would Ab­hi­manyu Singh’s pro­fes­sion be?

I would have been an IAS of­fi­cer or a farmer. IAS of­fi­cer be­cause my parents wanted me to be­come one. If I’d not been able to cope up with the stress of be­ing an IAS of­fi­cer then maybe I would re­sign some­day and be­come a farmer be­cause my grand­fa­ther was a farmer, and I loved farm­ing.

If you could re­make one of your Tel­ugu or Gu­jarati films in Bollywood, which one would it be and why?

There is one film called Dalam, in that film I played the role of a cop, and it was in­spired by true in­ci­dents. It is a very in­ter­est­ing story.

Talk­ing about re­makes, Bollywood re­makes a lot of South films. Do you feel some­where Bollywood is los­ing out on its cre­ativ­ity?

Yes, I do agree that if you’re re­mak­ing a film then there is no cre­ativ­ity left. Bollywood’s cre­ativ­ity is going for a toss. Be­cause where is the cre­ativ­ity when you are re­mak­ing a su­per hit film, and if you are re­mak­ing a su­per hit film, it is bound to be a su­per hit. Be­cause it has clicked with the au­di­ence once. The en­tire In­dian emo­tion is one, so if it has clicked in some area, it is bound to get clicked in other ar­eas as well.

And what about the Cen­sor Board? Do you feel cen­sor­ship is tak­ing away the free­dom of film­mak­ers?

Yes to some ex­tent, cen­sor­ship is tak­ing away the free­dom of film­mak­ers. Now they have got Anurag on board so let’s see how much of a dif­fer­ence that will make. But on the whole, there is too much in­ter­fer­ence by the cen­sor board and that is not very com­mend­able for the in­dus­try. Be­cause it’s about free­dom of thought and ex­pres­sion un­less you’re be­com­ing re­ally vul­gar, the cen­sor board shouldn’t in­ter­fere so much.

So if you could change a few things about the in­dus­try what would they be?

At the end of the day, the in­dus­try will work as it has to work. But some kind of sys­tem for ac­tors is needed. We don’t just need guys who go to the gym, pump up their mus­cles and be­come ac­tors. The in­dus­try should be in­vest­ing in good cin­ema, good scripts, and good ac­tors, these are the three things, I would like to change about the in­dus­try. Be­cause in to­day’s time, the in­dus­try doesn’t care about good scripts and good ac­tors. They are only be­hind the for­mula, if they use the for­mula the film be­comes a su­per hit overnight.

Keep­ing the in­dus­try aside what is that one qual­ity that you like about your­self and dis­like and would want to change it?

Well, the one qual­ity that I like about my­self is be­ing very hope­ful. And the one thing I don’t like about my­self is be­com­ing dis­il­lu­sioned about act­ing for a while. At times, I feel I am not get­ting my due and the kind of roles I should be get­ting I am not get­ting those, some­times it hap­pens and then, I be­come dis­il­lu­sioned. Then sud­denly ev­ery­thing be­comes nor­mal and starts fall­ing into place.

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