Meet the ensemble of Sunshine Music Tours and Travels
Sunshine Music Tours and Travels (SMTT), directed by Shailendra Singh is a unique concept. 170 debutants are a part of this travel and musical film that that takes you on a journey from Kashmir to Goa, culminating at the famous Sunburn festival. The film boasts of a huge ensemble cast. Pandolin spoke to the young protagonists of the film, Sunny Kaushal, Subha Rajput, Sooraj Ohri, Ashrut Jain, Mayank Kalra and Deepak Kalra, all of whom are newcomers, about their quirky characters and the experience of working on SMTT.
SUNNY KAUSHAL as Sunburn
Tell us about how you bagged this film.
I had auditioned for the part with the casting director of the film. After a week I got a call from sir’s (Shailendra Singh) office. Meeting him makes you feel old. He has this energy of a sixteen-year-old. He said, “Let’s do an audition!” I started performing scenes from the film. But he did not want to see any scene from this script! He asked me if I could do a performance that’s out of the script but was apt to this character. I performed a monologue in front of him. After half an hour, I was locked for the part!
What drove you to choose SMTT for your debut?
I personally believe that you don’t choose the film, the film chooses you. When I first read the script, I could relate to the character a lot. The boy has a dream to reach Sunburn. I had a dream of becoming an actor. So, in that sense there was still a coherence with the character. I thought it was a part of our responsibility to show people, the very fact, that dreams come true. It was one big reason that kept me motivated. It was a great character. It is a fun film with 14 other characters around relationships and friendship. The character is quite colourful.
I thought it was a part of our responsibility to show people, the very fact, that dreams come true
How would you describe your character Sunburn?
He is an orphan. Both Sunburn and his friend Rajma Romeo are orphans. They live in Kashmir. They have been adopted by a Sikh named Sodhi ji who runs a dhaba. He doesn’t have a name but has a dream to attend Sunburn. So, as a name of endearment Sodhi ji starts calling him Sunburn. He is a fairly simple guy devoid of greed in life. He wants to keep people happy and just wants to reach Sunburn and experience it.
What did your preparation for the role include?
I did not have to prepare much for this character. But there were a few aspects that I had to extensively work on. I prepared an emotional graph for the character. This character is an Electronic Dance Music (EDM) lover. When I was offered the film I wasn’t a fan of this genre of music. I researched a lot about EDM after getting the script. This would help me improvise on set. I also had to cut down my urban-ness and go back to my roots. So, it was a fairly simple preparation. Nothing like getting-into-the-skin of the character.
Did Vicky (Kaushal) guide you on do’s and dont’s of the preparation process?
No, he did not. According to him, since I knew the director’s vision, it should be my personal journey to explore this character. But he is a great help by just being there in my life.
Talk about the challenges you faced while shooting this travel film.
There weren’t any challenges as such. At least, I couldn’t feel them, even if there were any. In your first film your energy is so raw that you are ready to take any task at hand. I remember, we would wake up at 4 am in Kashmir and shoot in boxers in minus fifteen degrees. It was a certain adrenaline rush. The whole shooting process was very fun and seemed impromptu.
In your first film your energy is so raw that you are ready to take any task at hand
Right now I am not working in any. (Smiles). But I hope to be getting projects after this one. I just want to be a part of good stories. I don’t have any bias with any particular genre because as an actor I don’t want to bind myself to anything. As a newcomer, I want to be a clean slate and want to explore.
SUBHA RAJPUT as Loveleen
How did SMTT happen to you?
An ad film audition was going on in MHADA (One of the hubs of TV and Film auditions in Mumbai). The brief was to come in Gym clothes, so I walked in wearing those. There, they told me that it was a shortlisted audition and asked me to leave. As I was leaving an assistant came running to me and told me that I was being called. The lady who was the main casting director asked me if I was carrying some extra clothes. I wasn’t, so I borrowed them from a random girl who was also auditioning. I gave the audition and was shortlisted. Then I was called to the Percept office and sir (Shailendra Singh) took my interview. The interview was really cool. He asked me if I could perform any dialogue from any Hindi film. I did Shahrukh Khan’s piece from Mohabbatein, “Ik ladki thi deewani si. Ik ladke pe wo marti thi.” (Laughs)
When you met director Shailendra Singh, what was his brief to you? How did you go about it?
Meeting my director was such a huge coincidence! I was reading his book F?@K KNOWS and was really liking it because it was in a conversational format. I was on a chapter called ‘Destiny’ when I got a call from his office. I was excited about the fact that I was going to meet the author of the book. It was surreal!
His brief was that I am a wannabe South Delhi girl. He asked me questions and instructed me to answer them like a Delhi girl would. It was a fun exercise. As far as preparing for it was concerned, I just went with the flow.
I couldn’t have asked for a better debut
Tell us about Loveleen, your character.
To put it simply, she is the kind of girl for whom Honey Singh would have written the song, “Sarojini ke kapde pehen ke jaati madam disco”. She is a party animal and is brand conscious. Her dream is to attend Sunburn. Her mother and her best friend accompany her on this journey. Loveleen wants to travel the world.
How was it working on the film? Any challenges that you faced while shooting?
There was no challenge as such. The whole film was a party. It wasn’t shot conventionally. At times, we didn’t even know that the camera was rolling. I saw a couple of shots in the trailer which I don’t even remember shooting (laughs). It’s a raw film made from the heart. I couldn’t have asked for a better debut.
SOORAJ OHRI as Chamdi Boy Ayushmaan Singh
How was your character described to you?
I play a character named Ayushmaan Singh who is topless in the whole film. I was told that Ayushmaan and his best friend (Played by Mayank Kalra) have worked on their body and made it in one year with a motive to go to Goa, have fun and get laid. The brief was to be funny, nice and likeable.
Were there any difficulties you faced while shooting this film?
Our characters, ‘The Chamdi Boys’, join the journey from Sambar, Jaipur. We were shooting in January. The main hurdle was to be topless in such cold climate, perform and be completely in the character, not letting the cold show on our face. So Shailendra sir gave both of us, Mayank and me, 2-3 shots of Old Monk to stop our shivering. I think performing topless in that climate was our main challenge. Otherwise it was a fun shoot. There was no script, we had to improvise and create, be in the moment. It required a lot of effort physically plus mentally. We were like Jai-Veeru in the script. So we had to work on our chemistry too. In real life we are as different as chalk and cheese.
The main hurdle was to be topless in such cold climate, perform and be completely in the character
And how was the experience of working with Shailendra Singh?
I am very grateful to him for this opportunity. This is my debut. I’ve spent a year in Bombay. I have sacrificed and worked a lot to be here. It feels great to be in the hands of such a hardworking person himself. It’s motivating. He has the wisdom of a 70-year-old and the exuberance of a 25-year-old, literally. He is such a big personality and to take a risk at that level is a big deal. He has got a lot of audacity. He is energetic, always on-the-go and inspiring.
MAYANK KALRA as Chamdi Boy Pratap Singh Thakur
Is this your debut? How did you bag it and how has the entire journey been?
Yes. They were looking for a boy who could flaunt his 8 pack abs and at the same time act as well. I have done theatre with Mr. Sharma at Mandi House. Then I did a lot of commercials. I auditioned for this part and got it.
I learnt a lot from Mr. Shailendra. As a person he is amazing. I don’t understand when he sleeps. I really wonder how can someone be so hardworking. I have told him various times that he has made my dream come true. When you see my entry in the film, you will know what I am talking about! It’s such a heroic entry. I still tell him that he has introduced me as though I am a star son, as if a superstar is entering the frame. It’s not only me, he is introducing so many actors here when he could have signed any star for the film. It’s a big deal for us.
Shailendra sir has introduced me as though I am a star son, as if a superstar is entering the frame.
Talk about your character and the preparation that went behind making it.
I play Pratap Thakur from Jaipur, who believes that if you have worked so hard on making your body, you should definitely flaunt it! Why wear clothes? So I am topless in the whole film. I think of going to the Sunburn festival, flaunting my body, impressing the girls and enjoying. The character is a lot of fun.
If we talk about preparation, a lot of hard work went into making the body. I am a fitness freak. In fact, I have a gym of mine in the city. But it wasn’t about making a shirtless appearance for a scene or two. It was about the whole film! We shot topless in that cold temperature. But we had a blast shooting for the film.
Ashrut Jain as Rajma Romeo
Tell us about Rajma Romeo
The story is about two brothers from Kashmir- Rajma Romeo and Sunburn. Rajma Romeo helps Sunburn to fulfill his dreams. My name is Rajma Romeo because I love cooking and I am an Alia Bhatt lover. If you see the trailer, you can spot me romancing Alia Bhatt. In fact on September 2, I will be proposing Alia Bhatt. Wherever she is, I will be there to kneel down and express my love. Whether she agrees or not is a different case. (laughs)
What was the brief given to you?
The brief was pretty simple. Shailendra sir had a vision which was quite unique. It’s not easy to fulfill someone’s dream. You are not talking about fighting for your dream but somebody else’s. You have to keep pushing that person to achieve bigger and better. There’s a solution for everything. I am the solution giver. I am Sunburn’s jugaad.
My name is Rajma Romeo because I love cooking
Is this your first film?
I have done a cameo in Goliyon ki Raasleela – Ram Leela. But you can say that this is my launch. I am also part of the soon-to-release film M.S. Dhoni – The Untold Story.
Deepak Kalra as Karan the blogger and rapper
Define your character Karan
I am playing a Delhi guy who blogs about EDM, has complete knowledge about Sunburn and wants to become the no.1 blogger in the world. He is also inspired by Badshah, the rapper. I have also rapped in the film.
What was the brief given to you by Shailendra Singh? And how was it working with him?
Now there is an interesting twist to this. The character was written as a very geeky kind of a boy with spectacles, studious, introvert etc. Seeing my audition, everything changed because I was absolutely different from the character. I am an extrovert and have a lot of swag and things like that. But when Shailendra sir saw it, he said that this is the guy who will do this role.
Working with sir was an experience. He calls this film his baby as this is his debut as a director. He was very good to all of us. All the main 14 characters were treated the same. He let us play with the script and dialogue. We improvised a lot and he encouraged us.
There is a story behind my character being a rapper. We were sitting and talking when suddenly he asked me to sing. I said I can’t sing. He said, “Ok, then rap”. And I rapped a Badshah song. He reacted with just one line, “You will rap in the film”.
We were 14 strangers but we became a family while shooting
How was your rapport with the other actors?
It was so good to be with all of them. I was the youngest in the cast so they treated and loved me like a kid brother. I am an extrovert and a clean-hearted person, people accepted me like that and showered a lot of love on me, especially Sunny bhai. We were 14 strangers but we became a family while shooting.
Any other projects in the pipeline?
The year has been great. I have two more releases coming up. One is Gunday and Gudiya in October, which is an Anupam Kher production where I play a negative yet funny character. Then there is another release in November called Dongri Ka Raja where I play a gangster who kills as well as dances.