He has been in silhoutte on hoardings, bus backs and poster kiosks. His Columbus, Subhash Ghai, knows how to arouse public curiosity. The discovery is being presented in Black and White, the 17th film directed by the star maker. Now, the debutant comes out of the saaya for his first interview. Anurag Sinha in conversation with Khalid Mohamed.
In the manner of a ration-card officer, I start off by asking backdrop details of the classically polite, sharp in a sharper suit, and.. yahoo.. a guy with a talent for self-deprecating humour. Anurag Sinha from Patna is 24, doesn’t look anything like the scruffy Bihar baddies of the Prakash Jha movies, maybe because he’s been quite a nomad.
He studied in Nainital, was in Gwalior for a while, graduated in chemistry from Delhi’s St Stephen’s college. He adds ‘honours’ apologetically. Right. So everything was normal for Sinha boy except that he was “bad at studies, bad at home, hung out with older boys.. who did bad things like smoking and drinking.”
Father, a central government employee, and mum, packed him off to a boarding school in Naini.. in sixth standard then. Horrifying images of Darsheel Safary being traumatised flash before me. Happily, this Sinha boy loved it at the Nainital all-day school, straightened up, became“better.” Atopper. Kool. Now, having recorded his past, in a walnut shell, I move to q and a. More piquant and pithy:
Who has been your friend.. who put you on the straight and narrow?
Mrinal Kaul, he’s doing research in oriental studies.We’d ask each other questions even when we didn’t have answers. When you’re growing up, you don’t always know what you want to do.
Oh, okay. I knew I wanted to act. I’d act in college, do pretty well in debates. I thought I’d do some research in organic chemistry but then, Mrinal was in Pune. He sent me a form for the Film Institute, which was re-starting its acting course. I auditioned, I was in. As an actor, you can’t be changed, but the course teaches you the basic requirements, the skills.
What kind of films did you see there.. from the archives?
The classes were hectic, I’d fall asleep at the archive screenings. I did watch (Andrei Tarkvosky’s) Solaris with my eyes wide open.. but couldn’t understand it.
Which actors do you respect?
Robert De Niro, Russell Crowe.. from here Dilipji (Kumar). I like Shah Rukh Khan.. and Amitabh Bachchan.. pretty standard and normal.
(Falling asleep a bit) Tell me something that’s not so normal.
I wanted to be a hero ever since I was a kid.
(Perking up) Now you’re talking.. tell me more.
I wouldn’t talk to mum, dad, my sister, no one about this. But after graduation, I had to take a call. I understood that to become a hero you have to become an actor.
What about good looks?
What about good looks?
Do you think you have good looks?
(Confidently) I think I’m very goodlooking but it’s not important for an actor to look good.
Where did Subhash Ghai first see you?
At the Rangsharda auditorium.. the Film Institute acting students had performed Gorky’s Lower Depths.
What was the feedback?
We were praised but then you always are. None of us knew what’s in store for us. Then, I got a call from Mukta’s, I went to the office on September 5.. 2006..with photos taken by one of my friends, Dhirendra Shukla. Nothing fancy, me in a blue shirt sort of a thing. It was Teacher’s Day, the script was narrated to me, it took three hours.. I was told I was on.
What would you have said if you didn’t like the Black and White script?
(Lips firm) I would have told him what I didn’t like. Subhashji respects an actor’s point of view.
Have you been signed on a contract?
Yeah, I’ve signed a five-film contract.
Are you open to other filmmakers?
Yes, I am. Subhashji will guide me there. Mukta Arts will take care of me.
What have you learnt from him?
To perform under pressure.. you have to keep pace with him..move from one location.. from one costume.. to another.. and Subhashji ensures that you never lose your character’s graph, respond to the stimuli.
Aren’t you too politically correct?
Yaah.. (laughs) I’ve learnt to be politically correct.
You don’t mind the fact that you’re barely visible in the promos and on the posters?
I’m fine with that. The day I saw my first poster, I was thrilled. Upfront hype’s not essential.
(Blushing) Okay good, now tell me all about your private life?
(Blush, blush, blush, blush, blush, blush)
You know after next Friday, your private life will be up for scrutiny.
(Perspiring) I know.
Well, with the consent of my parents, I think I’ll be married maybe five years from now.
Married to whom please?
To a girl. Naturally. (Laughs, blushes somemore) Okay, she’s from Delhi.. she’s in Bombay now. When I contemplate the question of marriage, I’ll decide when and where. Of course, as importantly, she’ll have to contemplate the same question.. and take her decision. But really, there’s still plenty of time.. we’re fine. There are no skeletons in my closet.
Would you do kissing scenes?
Most guys with girlfriends have a problem about this. I will not kiss on the screen.. please write that down sir.
Sure. And if you had a bath towel dance, as in Saawariya ,would you do it?
If I was in Saawariya , I would have done it sir.
Okay, is there any question you wish I had asked?
Maybe..where do you see yourself five to 10 years down the line?
Where do you see yourself five to 10 years down the line?
Everyone wants to be a star. So, do I.