Interview: Amit Sadh – On his journey from TV to films and what lies ahead
Amit Sadh has had an interesting journey – from reality TV,
to a critically acclaimed film which is undoubtedly one of the year’s best
films so far, Abhishek Kapoor’s Kai Po Che.
We caught up with the talented actor in the coffee shop of London’s Dorchester, where he willingly answered a volley of questions thrown at him, excerpts of which we have for you here.
What’s your journey been like from Big Boss, to TV and now films?
I’ll have to keep it very succinct. It’s been a beautiful, hell of a journey. And I could talk about it for days. I'd like to leave the details for my autobiography, but I'll cover some of it here. When I came to Mumbai to become an actor I didn’t know much about acting. I was very ignorant and arrogant, I thought 'Oh I want to be an actor.' Friends tried to put me of off, however I just got on with it and I was lucky enough to land a big role in television and before I knew it in six months I was a household name and then one thing led to another. I continued with televesion for four years, made a fair bit of money, became famous and became financially independent.
While all of this was happening, I remember feeling I wanted to do more, I was looking for something, the artist in me wanted to do something substantial and I realised that TV doesn’t give me what I need. I was making money and not growing. I felt 'I haven’t read a book, I haven’t travelled, all I’m doing is entering a studio in the morning and coming out at night and not doing anything else.' That was when I took the biggest decision of my life – I decided to leave television after Big Boss (Indian version of Big Brother). I was mocked by friends, producers and colleagues. Nearly everyone thought I’d lost my marbles. I was very young, I was 24, I was making a lot of money I was one of the highest paid television actors at such a young age, my popularity was crazy so people naturally thought I’d gone crazy by making such a big decision.
Then I started thinking about movies, and like everything in my life I was not prepared – I plunged in. I always dive in first and think of the consequences afterwards. I was rejected initially. A lot of people said I don’t have the face of a leading man. I was running out of money and frustration was setting in. And I had not faced this kind of rejection ever in my life. I was always popular even as a kid. I became popular in television so I wasn't used to rejection. That’s when I decided to go to the The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in New York to study acting. I came back in 2011 and got a small role in a film called Maximum which starred Sonu Sood and Naseerudin Shah. The film didn’t do well but my work was appreciated by everyone. And that was a boost. And then shortly after in 2012 I signed Kai Po Che and the rest as they say is history.
Kai Po Che was successful critically and commercially. Has that opened up new doors or do you still think you’re struggling?
Life has changed. I was just in touch with an actress I really admire recently. Vidya Balan, who's a very good friend, asked me how it was going. How had life changed for me? And I said life was great. It was all so confusing. I was struggling before and now I have 30 films to pick from. She told me to enjoy the confusion.
For me all this success is humbling. And it's exciting too that so many filmmakers want to make a film with me. It's flattering that they’re backing my talent. Now I have to be true to my calling. Now that I am here, I want to continue to be pure as an actor. I can do that or I can become corrupt – the choice is entirely mine. Life is quite a battle sometimes. Some days I win. Some days I lose. My decisions are very objective, very pure, so I always hope for the best.
Do people recognise you on the streets?
Yes! People recognised me in London, which isn’t surprising but they recognised me in Athens, Greece which was amazing. I am enjoying the adulation.
Which star do you aspire to model your career after?
I draw inspiration from a lot of actors – all over the world. I don’t know the meaning of the word star. The word ‘star’ means a ball of gas up above in the sky… but yes there are actors who I admire. I don’t emulate him as such but I draw inspiration from one actor in particular – Daniel Day Lewis. Then of course there's Amitabh Bachchan, Al Pacino, Robert Downey Jr, Marlon Brando, I could go on and on.
How much are you like your character Omi in Kai Po Che?
The biggest challenge for me was that Omi and I are two very different people. I’m very sure in real life, very self assured. Omi is not so it was difficult for me to portray him. I'm very mischievous in real life. Have you seen The Social Network? Do you remember the last line? Where the actress says 'You're not an asshole, Mark. You're just trying so hard to be?' I’m that sort of a guy. That’s how I’m very different to Omi. I don’t think like him, I don’t talk like him, I don’t sit like him. We are two very different souls. The graph that Omi has is very different to anything I’ve had to experience. I was very lucky to play such a character so early in my career. I had a great team. A great director so all of that really helped.
Do you want to tell us anything about your upcoming films?
I’ve signed a few things. But I have a very strong idealogy. I do not want to be a Bollywood actor. I want to be an international actor. I’m seeking agents all over the world. I screen tested for a role which went to Suraj Sharma (of Life of Pi fame). The fact that I get to screen test for such high profile films is a big high in itself. My main principle is that I do not talk about my films until the producer talks about them. I just want to be quiet and let my work do the talking. But apart from being an actor, I still want to be a normal human being and be able to detach from my work. I’m in the process of trying to do that. I believe that once you are ordinary, you’ll be able to create magic on screen. I don’t want to be one of those actors that get lost in themselves and then start playing themselves. There is a film with UTV on the cards which has already been announced so I can confirm that. I’ll be the leading man of their next which is currently in the scripting stage. But I am going to have two more films before that. Which will be officially announced soon.
If a film was made on your life who would you like to see play the lead role as you?
(Laughs) Nobody can play me.
If you could be a superhero for one day what would be your superpower?
I don’t want superpowers I'm very happy the way I am. (Laughs again)
If you had six months to live what would you do with that time?
I don’t plan that far ahead, My philosophy is live for now.
If you were a type of food what would you be?
Chocolate fudge… Every woman will want a bite!
What the best compliment you’ve received since the release of Kai Po Che?
A big filmmaker said that I don’t need lines, I don’t need dialogue, my eyes speak volumes.
Any parting message for your fans?
I don’t call them my fans, I call them my landlords because I work for them. And I’d like to thank them. I am what I am because of them. I want to keep working hard and to the best of my ability and keep entertaining them. And I hope I don’t let anyone down. (Smiles)