Be it his impeccable comic timing as a lawyer in Jolly LLB (2013) or his slapstick form as a police officer in Barfi! (2012), Saurabh Shukla with every act, has proven his craft. The National award-winning actor, who has a theatre background, will be seen on stage in his upcoming play, Barff. In a telephonic interaction with HT Café, Shukla revisits his popular film, Satya (1998), and talks about how he has played important roles in films despite being the ‘hero.’ Excerpts from the interview.
Like you, many actors switch from theatre to television and films. Do you think the vice-versa is beginning to happen?
Yes. Commercially in India, theatre has not made its way where it can support a livelihood. So, people from theatre, end up coming into television or films. It is easier for people to go back from Bollywood to theatre and that will continue.
Watch: A scene from Jolly LLB featuring Saurabh Shukla
Your roles in Jolly LLB and Barfi! were as discussed as those of the lead actors. Does it bother you that an actor of your calibre isn’t given lead roles?
In India, we don’t talk about every character’s story in films. However, actors like me, do get their parts. In Barfi! and Jolly LLB, I got a big part. I don’t want to be under an illusion where I start believing that in every other film, I’ll be the hero. I’m not a ‘hero’.
Your gangster film Satya achieved cult status. Do you think Bollywood has been able to helm good gangster films since then?
A good film stays in the memory of people and Satya is one of those films. People who tried to replicate Satya have not made it because we are copying rather than creating original work. If people try to match up to Satya, the point is lost.
Tell us about your upcoming play…
It is a thriller. We’ve seen plays on social topics or comedy. But in India, we don’t have a history of thrillers. What’s exciting is that it’s set in Kashmir.