Sanjay Suri is Nikhil again in director Onir’s second film, Bas Ek Pal. Suri plays an “aggressive, intense, passionate guy, one who always thinks from the heart. He’s an orphan, a self-made man who’s used to making his own decisions though not always right.”
The film is about five individuals — Juhi Chawla, Urmila Matondkar, Jimmy Sheirgill, Rehaan Engineer and Suri — whose lives change after just one incident. “For some, the change is for the better and for others, it’s for the worse. It’s a layered film with multiples tracks,” he says. The film, incidentally, was written even before My Brother Nikhil. “But My Brother Nikhil got made first,” he says. The actor says it was refreshing for him to play Nikhil in Bas Ek Pal “because it’s a vibrant yet potent character.” Suri has worked with Matondkar in Pinjar “though we didn’t have too many scenes. It’s really good to see somebody so hardworking and professional like her. She doesn’t take things for granted and applies herself completely to the character.”
As for his director Onir, Suri says, "With his very first film, Onir proved that he could handle any subject sensitively. With his second film, I have only seen his growth as a director.” While My Brother Nikhil, a story about an HIV-positive state level swimmer (Suri) continues to garner critical acclaim and accolades in the international arena, what has it got for the actor back home? “Though it’s not translated into any roles for me, the fact that an actor could play gay in mainstream cinema did get us respect and appreciation. And while it didn’t get any favour with the awards functions here — maybe it didn’t tickle the industry wallas — the fact that it was lauded abroad showed that the film had served its purpose beyond the box-office.”
A fairly talented actor, Suri has often been saddled with nice, sincere, earnest roles. While he’s repeatedly proved his ability in films like Pinjar, Jhankaar Beats and My Brother Nikhil, one doesn’t really see his name on too many projects. Does that disappoint him? “No, I don’t feel disappointed as an actor, though one feels underutilised. One knows one can deliver the goods but those offers don’t come by.” Onir has spoken about his next film being based on Hamlet. Will Suri feature in that too? “We haven’t spoken about it and I think he’s still writing it and had expressed his desire to cast Hrithik Roshan in the lead.”
Suri co-produced My Brother Nikhil and he says more films are in the pipeline if they “zero in on something that deserves to be made.” Sanjay Suri’s other films are Vikram Bhatt’s Speed with Urmila Matdonkar, Zayed Khan and Aftab Shivdasani. There’s also a romantic comedy called Kabhi Up Kabhi Down with Perizaad Zorabian.