I want to be known as an actor who can pull off any role
Satyajeet Dubey made his debut with Always Kabhi Kabhi in 2011 when he was just 20 years old. Though the film was produced by Shah Rukh Khan, the big break wasn’t very fruitful for him as it bombed at the box office. After going through this heartbreak for a few months, he stood up and preferred working hard on his craft instead of working on the odd projects that the industry was offering him. Four years after his first film, Satyajeet bounces back with a lead role in Baankey Ki Crazy Baraat. The actor gets candid about his humble upbringing, desire to be known as a good actor and playing the role of Baankey.
Tell us about your journey from Bilaspur, Chattisgarh to Mumbai?
I was this kid who was always into extra-curricular activities such as dramatics and dance. I also held dance classes at the age of 14 for pocket money. I always wanted to be an actor; there was no plan A or B. I come from a very simple small town and middle class background. Though it was a small town, our family had a liberal approach and supported me in my decision. I came to Mumbai when I was 17 and took admission in Mithibhai College to do my graduation. During graduation I was a backstage artist on many plays and even worked in a call centre for a few months. But I realized that I can’t be involved in these odd jobs and need to concentrate on something that I’m here for. I even got a dance scholarship but couldn’t take it up as it was time consuming. I did various plays and briefly did television to sustain myself, soon realizing that it wasn’t my cup of tea. I did around 35 ad films and music videos. In 2009 Roshan Abbas (Director, Always Kabhi Kabhi) and Shaheen Abbas spotted me. The Casting Director (of the film) had already seen my play at Prithvi Theatre, so all of them wanted to cast me in Always Kabhi Kabhi. That’s how I got my first film.
Was getting initial projects like ads or plays difficult?
Being a small town guy I was full of confidence and assurance that I’ll be able to pull it off but I had to groom myself a lot. I used to keep quiet and observe more, rather than showing off what all I can do. I observed and absorbed a lot through the process. Most actors start their career at 26-27 whereas my first film came out at the age of 20. I was still learning and getting to know my craft.
When an outsider shifts base to Mumbai, what kind of hurdles does he come across?
I won’t say it is very easy but at the same time I don’t think it is difficult. One just needs to be positive and clear about the purpose of being in the city – if you are here to make money or fame or it is purely the love for acting. I genuinely love acting, theater and being in front of the camera. The positive energy attracts all the positivity. I had no clue about Always Kabhi Kabhi and it came to me. Similarly ads and plays kept happening.
Unlike most youngsters, you seem to be lucky to land a role at the age of 20. Was it luck that played in your favor?
It was an interesting combination of luck and my talent. If I wouldn’t have been talented enough they wouldn’t have hired me. I was on my toes and constantly auditioning. They were looking for a young actor and it just fell into play at the right time.
When you’re part of a film produced by SRK, does one also gets the chance to learn under his mentorship?
While we were making Always Kabhi Kabhi, it was completely a director’s film. I had a great time because Red Chillies really pamper their actors. Whenever we met Shah Rukh sir, he was always encouraging and supporting. He would often repeat that if this film works, there would be nothing like it, but if it doesn’t, then it’s not the end of life. One has to keep trying because people won’t remember those ten failures but that one success will change everything. Instead of concentrating on other things, we should concentrate on our craft. He had a point to make because if I don’t act well, who would like me? Therefore I want to be known as a young actor who can pull off any role.
Though it was a major break, the film bombed at the box office. How did you react to such a response?
It was heartbreaking; very much like your first heartbreak. When you madly fall in love with someone and want to be with the person for the entire time. I don’t know any other diplomatic way to explain it. Like a heartbreak takes time, it took me time to come out of this (film). It’s fine that the film didn’t do well but at the same time I’m glad that I bagged the role without any recommendation or help. That’s how my second film Baankey Ki Crazy Baraat happened where I have worked with veterans like Sanjay Mishra, Rajpal Yadav, Vijay Raaz etc.
What projects did you do between 2011 and 2015?
It was a time when I didn’t do a lot of work. The kind of things I was expecting didn’t come to me and I didn’t want to do the kind of work that did come. I knew that time is on my side so I can work on my craft and wait for the right things to happen. I wouldn’t deny the fact that I was heartbroken after Always Kabhi Kabhi jinxed. For 6-7 months I was trying to understand how things work. Though all of us had put our heart and soul into it (the film) but somehow it didn’t work. All these years I was busy doing plays and constantly kept auditioning for different films.
Doesn’t it become difficult to sustain in a place like Mumbai?
It is pretty difficult but you need to be true to yourself. You fought with everyone back home simply to live your dream. Now for some reason it is not happening, during that time you have to be very patient. It is very easy to lose your mind but thankfully that didn’t happen to me. I knew I have to keep working. Today every new actor has a great physique, body and looks great. But I knew I’ll concentrate on my craft instead and whatever part I play, I’ll do my best.
How did Baankey… happen? Tell us about your role?
Baankey… was one of the films that I’d auditioned for. Firstly the story of the film really excited me. People always tell me that I look like a teenager so here was a film where I was getting the role of someone in the mid 20s. I’m playing a double role in it. So differentiating the two characters was very interesting. And to work with such a talented cast was a learning experience.
Tell us about the experience of working with talented actors like Vijay Raaz, Sanjay Mishra and Rajpal Yadav.
I was in awe of them. I jumped when I got this opportunity to work with these people. Their comic timing and understanding of comedy is quite brilliant. They really helped me a lot during the process and taught me. I had to grasp from them immediately because with these actors you can’t afford to have workshops; with young actors you can still rehearse. With them everything was on the spot. Mishra ji once said an interesting thing, “One needs to be observant in real situations to later bring that reality in your acting. One has to be quite receptive”.
Tell us about your future projects?
Before I started with Baankey… I did an independent film called Kerry on Kutto directed by 29 year old director Ashok Yadav. I’m the lead guy along with Aaditya Kumar (Perpendicular from Gangs Of Wasseypur). The film is a content driven film and is very close to my heart. It is a film that talks about the reality of grass root – small town – coming of age. Films like Dil Chahta Hai, Always Kabhi Kabhi or Student of the Year show the glossier side of coming age. Here we are showing what the teenagers are going through during their growing years – those little changes, attraction, life, career, sex, entertainment, love etc. For Baankey… I can say that is a situational comedy but for Kerry on Kutto I can’t think of any reference to this film.
– Navleen Kaur Lakhi