All of the characters are a part of me, but I am none of them
From his very first appearance in the film Monsoon Wedding, Randeep Hooda has repeatedly grabbed eyeballs with his powerful acting. With movies like Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai, Highway and Main aur Charles, he has further cemented his presence in Hindi cinema. In his latest release, Laal Rang, the suave actor is all set to play the most flamboyant character of his life. In a tete-a-tete with Pandolin, Randeep gets candid about the various layers of his role, the human element of the film and his views on acting.
What made you want to be part of Laal Rang?
I had met Syed Ahmad Afzal (Director) for another film, but that didn’t work out. But I had spotted him as a man with a lot of talent and drive, moreover someone with new thoughts and ideas. Therefore, when he got me the script of Laal Rang, which showed a heinous crime, he was bringing forth something that happens in our society, but which has never been shown. Plus, even though the movie deals with blood smuggling, the story is about humanity, friendship, about unrequited love, betrayal, and aspiration. The whole film is about so many things that you can identify with it, whether you are living in Mumbai or in a small town. There are so many interactions between the characters that are appealing and funny and identifiable.
Plus, we were going to make it in Haryana, which is where I am from. And, for the first time I get to play the most flamboyant character in my life. Plus Syed made me hear some of the music of the film. We have mixed folk with techno music. The French musician Mathias Duplessy has made a Haryanvi reggae song called ‘Bawli Booch’.
And how did you prepare for the character of Shankar?
The research was all in place. Afzal told me about a rule of blood banks, which is that if you take blood, you have to replace it with blood, you can’t buy it. These guys would sell the blood, then go to a permanent donor, bleed that guy out, take the unit and sell it for five thousand. That is how they would make money. Trading with blood is the worst crime in the world.
However, even though the film deals with a social topic, it is packaged in a very entertaining manner. I don’t think you can preach to people, you can entertain them and in that something that you say might stick with them. So the main thing is that it’s very entertaining plus we are trying to convey something important, which makes the movie a whole lot more meaningful.
Even though the film deals with a social topic, it is packaged in a very entertaining manner
Were you able to relate to your character?
All my characters are a part of me, but I am not a part of them. I had to find that Haryanvi, ‘dabangg’ kind of a character within me. He is funny, naive, smart, crude and yet he is loving. He is a complicated character, but Afzal has encapsulated him very well in the film.
It’s also said that you weren’t allowed to wear any makeup in the film. How was the experience compared to your other films?
I normally don’t put makeup. Even for Highway, I hadn’t used any makeup. But in this film there are some dark circles and pores and other things, which make the look very realistic. The hair, though it is shabby, has been constructed in a way that I’ve just woken up from a sleep. Makeup doesn’t necessarily mean just putting on powder, it means making it look as if it is happening in reality. That doesn’t mean that there is no makeup on. Many actress say that they are going for a no makeup look, but I don’t think I have ever encountered any actress, in any movie, who has no kind of makeup on.
Do you believe in being a director’s actor?
I think I get the director’s vision very nicely. But I am not an actor who is dependent on the director. In fact, I believe I bring a lot more to the table to enhance the director’s vision. People who say that they are a director’s actor are the ones who are inconsistent. They say that a particular performance was good because it was with a good director or bad because the director wasn’t good. So no, I don’t blame the director, I do my own homework and come.
I am not an actor who is dependent on the director
How would you describe Syed Ahmad Afzal as a director?
He is a very hands-on director and almost part producer. He has a way of balancing everything and has a sense of vision and cinematography. He also has a way of bring everything – the sound, visuals, the characters, the emotions – all together.
Having worked with various directors, what is the one specific thing that is unique about Syed?
His tenacious need to keep improving and his sense of realism, which is very good. It’s not boring realism. He presents it in a way that is appealing and has a sense of construction to it.
How would sum up your film in one sentence?
An entertaining dark comedy. It is about crime – kind of a mafia crime, a dark comedy, and a bromance.
Summing it up, what was it that drew you to acting?
I like to explore different characters and enjoy playing someone else. I have never enjoyed playing myself and I don’t think I have done that in any of my movies. All of the characters are a part of me, but I am none of them and sometimes I forge who I really am.
-Transcribed by Aarti Sukhija