From his comic roles that have always entertained audience to his latest serious offerings in the form of internationally acclaimed films such as Ankhon Dekhi and Masaan, veteran actor of Hindi film industry, Sanjay Mishra has always gained appreciation for his work. The new kick in his life is making his Telegu debut last month. Overwhelmed by the experience of working in an industry that makes films in a language which seems alien to Mishra, he shares everything from Ankhon Dekhi to Masaan, Kick 2 to his upcoming films Dilwale, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo and sequel of Grand Masti.

Bollywood Actor Sanjay Mishra

Bollywood Actor Sanjay Mishra

Both Ankhon Dekhi and Masaan got you critical acclaim. Though we shouldn’t ask but which one did you like more?

Even I think about that at times. But both the films are different. The guy in Ankhon Dekhi wants to fly in the world and the other person in Masaan is tired of the world. The character in Ankhon Dekhi had nothing to do with the money and wanted to rise above materialistic things. But the character in Masaan feels tied up due to circumstances. Both of them are different and it is difficult for me to choose one.

Did you learn any lessons from both the characters?

Usually, most characters that you play are social characters. My characters in Ankhon Dekhi and Masaan were social. The father in Ankhon Dekhi could be anyone’s father and the same goes for Masaan. Most middle-class fathers are similar to the one I played in Masaan and would react in the same manner as I did in the movie. After playing these two characters, I have come quite close to life. I’m originally not of the age which is shown in Ankhon Dekhi, Masaan or for that matter Dum Laga Ke Haisha. My daughters Pal and Lamha are quite young. But still being a father, Devi’s character was quite close to me as one starts relating. In that film, Devi doesn’t have a mother. I’m playing the mother also. I have raised her all my life and looked after her. Besides the father-daughter relationship, there was another bond which was a bond of humans.

Do you think Ankhon Dekhi and Masaan have acted as a platform to get away with the tag of a comic actor?

What if I would have done films such as Ankhon Dekhi or Masaan earlier and then done comic roles; even then people would have thought the same. I perform with equal effort in both kinds of films. Actors rarely get such a chance where they get to play different kind of roles. People’s point of view has also changed a lot after these films.


Your recently released Baankey Ki Crazy Baraat is a situational comedy? You have been part of many such comedy films. How is this role different from the previous ones?

Baankey Ki Crazy Baraat is a film that I did for money. I had already done such kind of work. So it was up to the team working on Baankey Ki Crazy Baraat that how efficiently they could have used me. Knowing that a player like me can play well, they should have ideally utilized my presence as best as they could but if they haven’t it’s their loss. When I heard the script in the beginning, I liked it a lot. The concept of such kind of marriages seemed very interesting. But there are lots of factors that count. The film is directed by a first-time director – maybe he might perform better next time.

What kind of atmosphere was found on the shooting set which had talented actors such as Vijay Raj, Rajpal Yadav, Rakesh Bedi etc?

At times, filmmakers do manage to take actors in their films but getting a good cast is not enough. What matters is how you use those actors. What’s the point of getting energetic performers like Vijay Raj, Rakesh Bedi, Rajpal Yadav and putting them on the same stage but you are unable to use them properly?

A still from Bankey Ki Crazy Baraat

A still from Bankey Ki Crazy Baraat

When you are a part of commercial comedy films that offer similar comic roles, what all does it take to not get typecast.

I have never understood this whole saying about getting typecast. For instance a laborer will keep making the regular buildings unless he gets a good architect who might get something really artistic made from him. So one keeps doing his work, what matters is what kind of people you meet in life.


Tell us more about other upcoming commercial projects – Dilwale, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo and Grand Masti’s sequel etc.

All these films are like T20 matches. In just three days you get to know about their success or failure. There is nothing like dil ko choo gayi wali baat in these films. And films like Masaan are test matches.

What do you like the most – T20 or test matches?

I like to bat. Either it is T20 or test matches.

Though the list of your forthcoming T20 is long but is there any test match coming up?

There are two-three films but I don’t want to take any names now. They haven’t gone on floor yet but I’m in the process of talking to it’s filmmakers. Such things are a slow process as who would make a film with Sanjay Mishra? Though there are some people like Munish Mundra who take these risks.


What next?

My life recently had a surprise element as Kick 2 , my Telugu debut, released last month. While I was dubbing for Kick 2, I started crying as I felt proud of myself as an actor. I was working at a place where I couldn’t understand the language, was unable to read sign boards and understanding what the whole crew was talking about was impossible. The script appeared as some painting because I didn’t know Telugu. Despite all these factors, you have to perform in a way that people should like and appreciate it. It was even tougher than shooting for an English film for one still understands English. But Telugu just went above my head.


How did Kick 2 happen?

The director of Kick 2 Surrender Reddy is super hit director of Tollywood. When he came to my office, I didn’t even know who he was. Instead of talking to the Reddy I started talking to his assistant as I mistook him for being the director. That assistant informed in gestures that he isn’t the director but the one who is sitting along. I told Reddy that it will be really difficult for me to work in a language that I don’t speak or understand. But he was adamant. He said he can imagine only me in that role and assured that he would help me in any kind of language barriers that I will have while shooting for the film. When I went on the set, there was so much love coming from everywhere that I used to get cue from five different corners. That was the biggest kick of my life. South has a fixed image that it has larger than life characters and loud acting. Since I’m not that sought of an actor, so it is a combination of loudness and realism.

You have also done another Telugu film Shankarabharanam?

I’m very excited about that as well. It will release in October. Kick 2 and Shankarabharanam both are very different films. I have just taken one step in the Telugu industry, I am yet to take more steps. Everybody over there really wants me to learn Telugu.

Would you like to learn Telugu?

Perhaps I can learn. So far I was doing work for my bread and butter. And for your livelihood, you end up doing anything and everything. But nowadays the possibilities have expanded. From now on, I will be particular about the kind of films that I’ll do. In the south industry also I will do movies that are different and entertaining. Though showing your talent in an area you don’t belong is the biggest challenge.

Your fascination for cooking is quite talked about. We have heard you start your kitchen on the sets or whichever place you travel to. Tell us more about it.

Cooking is a very personal thing. According to me the process of cooking is very creative. You decide yourself the ingredients that should go in your body. I usually cook on the sets.

You’ve often said that you do different films because they give you the chance to travel to different places.

During Baankey Ki Crazy Baraat one thing I loved was staying at Paragpur in Himachal Pradesh where the shoot took place. It was a beautiful place. I simply used to wait that when my scenes would end so that I could explore the place. Along with the chance that they give me to travel, all my films are also rehearsal as an actor. They are my canvas.


You also like photography a lot. Share about this love?

Yes I do. I’m going to Nasik this year to the Kumbh Mela. I like to click pictures of sadhu’s while they are doing their makeup and getting ready. My Sadhu friends have been calling me up to inquire that when will I come. I even like to click landscapes. Photography depends a lot on the mood. You need to be in a certain mood for clicking pictures. How about having ear phones plugged with some really beautiful music playing on it?

Mishra loves capturing Sadhus in his lens

Mishra loves capturing Sadhus in his lens

What kind of music do you like?

I like music by Pink Flyod, Jim Morrison, Ravi Shanker, George Harrison, Abdul Harif Zafar Khan etc. I think 70s was the best phase in respect to all kinds of art. Be it good music or films, the creations of those times were milestones.

Besides music and photography, what else?

Being quiet and listening to others is one of my favorite activities. Also observation is really important for an actor. Listening to others is very significant in life.

Do you also want to direct?

I directed a film called Pranam Walleykum which is stuck in between. Every film comes with some luck and this film’s luck isn’t favoring it currently. But when my batch mate and room partner Tigmanshu Dhulia saw the film he said even he has made a film like this called Paan Singh Tomar. He took me along to show the film. I liked Paan Singh Tomar so much so that I forgot to pick my car and came on foot while talking to Irrfan. When I reached home I realized that I left my car over there. What exactly is cinema? It is something that has the power to make you feel, show the world and involve you fully. Why did people like Masaan? Because they got involved in it. Also currently I don’t even have time to direct films. I started Pranam Walleykum when people were appreciating me for Phas Gaye Re Obama. I kept everything aside as I was so eager to direct. During that process, even Rajat Kapoor came with Ankhon Dekhi which I refused initially.


And then he went to Naseerudin Shah for the same role? Share that story.

I soon realised that I was acting foolish by refusing an opportunity like this. When I got back to Rajat, he said that though Naseer bhai had also agreed to it but when informed that I have gotten back, he replied in a mail saying that I deserve the role. After the film got released, I got a text saying, “Duniya me koi actor essa nahi kar sakta – Naseer”. I thought it must be some old friend and just replied thanks. Next day I got a call from that number saying if I would like to speak to him. And it was Naseerudin Shah. I was numb for few seconds as he used to be our teacher in NSD and one has always admired his work. He said he cried a lot after watching Ankhon Dekhi.