The trailer looks amazing, but it is being compared to the original film and has been mixed with reactions on social media. What should you say?
Watch the movie and then decide it, I want to say.
What really attracted you to the screenplay of ‘Durgammati’?
Character of course. I play the role of ACP Abhay Singh which I have not done in Hindi and this is a very different character than I have done so far in Hindi films. So that was a major reason.
Secondly, it was Abundantia Entertainment, which is like a family. I did ‘Shakuntala Devi’ with him and this is my second film with him. So the whole team is very close to me.
Have you seen the original picture?
There is. I’ve seen the picture to bits and pieces so I can’t say I’ve seen the picture.
Why did you choose a title change?
The title change occurred because of the content. This was done voluntarily by the directors because of resonance with the content.
How would you describe your experience with Bhoomi Pednekar, Mahi Gill and Arshad Warsi?
I had a nice fun ride shooting with them all. Bhoomi is an exceptional actress. Mahi and Arshad Sir too. We have this whole film shoot. Yes, this is a thriller and a horror film but we were joking and having fun (laughs). Our director Ashok Ji also has a good sense of humor, so we laugh before giving a shit and after a shot. We had half the time.
Any anecdote you want to share? As you scared someone?
Chief Khud Dara Rehta Tha, Because I’m afraid of horror films. I don’t see them. I’m only in Tom and Jerry, Marvel and DC movies like Batman, Superman and the like. And of course thrillers, I love them. But, definitely not terrible. We were shooting in Bhopal and we were shooting some haveli. And some of those havelis were also haunting, and then I realized and when I found out and when I went back to shoot there and most of the shooting was at night, I was hoping that somebody was watching and there was some heavy force. It is constantly running through your head (laughs) that this arena is haunting. And half the places are really spooky where we shot the movie.
The best part is that the directors, Ashokji enjoy these kinds of places and they are having fun. We are also having fun but in the back of our minds, I think when we get out of here (laughs).
How do you make a film like this despite your fears?
There is. When you shoot a horror movie it is very mechanical. There is action and cuts, there are lights and people. It is very mechanical at the end of the day. So when you’re shooting, you don’t understand. But when I was dubbing for a picture, I was like, ‘Oh my God! Am I filming this? “(Laughs) So when you dub for a movie and watch a movie you realize it.
How would you describe Akshay Kumar as a producer?
No, he never got shot. But I met him in the shoot of something else. But as a producer, I have never met him on this project.
Your last two releases ‘Shakuntala Devi’ and ‘Sadak 2’ have been released digitally. It is also being released digitally. How do you see this new normal? Feeling disappointed that the movie was not released for the films?
There are pros and cons. It’s a personal thing. The film is being released on the OTT platform and will not be released in 200 countries at a time. So this is a big plus point for the movie to be released on the OTT platform. On the other hand, you personally want to see yourself on the big screen, bigger than life and you know you see yourself on a 70mm screen. But at the end of the day as an actor you want more people to see your work and that only happens with the release of OTT. So yeah, I’m so happy that so many people are going to watch it and they’re going to see it. So that’s all you need as a producer, director and actor. We want people to see the film. So I think we can reach people.
Yes, you may be a bit worried that they are not releasing in the theater but OTT’s plus points are huge. People are going to watch you and talk about the movie rather than the theater release
Is it difficult for actors from other language industries to step into Bollywood? Do you agree
At least in my case I disagree, I haven’t encountered anything. Currently, I am reading some scripts at home. I’m shooting Hindi and Telugu right now, so I don’t have that complaint. But stepping into the industry is hard for everyone. This is difficult because this profession is not easy. You have to have talent. Whether it’s a director or an actor or an editor, you have to have talent and this is an art form that will try your luck. So you have to prove yourself and have dedication and patience in this profession.
Do you have a feeling of acceptance in Bollywood? What are your views on the outside debate against the whole insider?
Of course! I have been in this profession for the past 22 years. What kind of cinema have I done again in Bengal, people have seen those pictures here and I have done some good films with directors like Tuparna Ghosh, Sujit Mukherjee, they are world famous directors. Especially, it is Tuparna Ghosh, whose films are at the corner and corner of every film festival in the world. I have done six pictures with them. So people have seen those movies here, so people know about me and people now know my name too. So I didn’t face what other people probably had to face. Also, the films I made, I think I did a good job, which is why they took me and considered it.
Being an Indian artist and actor, I feel that I am an insider. I don’t believe in Bengali actor or Hindi actor or Telugu actor. I am an insider. I don’t know why people say that, maybe they don’t have the patience I was talking about earlier. Especially our industry is an open book and everyone knows what everyone is doing. I think it’s a great thing. So I don’t understand this debate.
Want to know if you are a star or a good actor?
A good actor of course at any given time. I don’t believe in being a star. I believe in being an actor.
Most actors are super active on social media, but why do you stay away from it? Does it do anything online trolling or do you know who you are?
It’s not just about trolling. It’s about the negativity out there. Yes, social media brings a lot of good things but it is about 20 – 30%. The remaining 70 to 80% are all negative. People are not talking about anything. They believe they have you. So I really want to get away from it but I can’t because it requires time. The career I am in, I need to attend social media and promote work in social media. So sometimes I post pictures but I don’t get much on it. If I see some negativity I don’t read it. Nowadays I have stopped watching the news.
In Bollywood you have worked with big names like Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt, Vidya Balan, Kangana Ranaut. Who do you want to work with next?
(Laughs) Believe me, I never planned all this, it just happened. Nothing on my bucket list but whatever it is I want to do a good job. I want to work with people who give me great content. It could be absolutely anyone.
What are you working on next?
I am currently shooting for Hindi and Telugu but can’t talk much about it right now.