When Sanjay Suri returned to Kashmir after 18 years for the shooting of Sikandar, his co-actors and the film's unit didn't have trouble getting accustomed to the place as the actor was always there to help them with the language and food.
"While we were shooting in Kashmir, I became the official guide of the unit. I introduced them to the various cuisines, the main dishes of Kashmir, local places and the dialect. It was good fun," Sanjay told IANS over phone from Mumbai.
The shooting in the Kashmir Valley was also highly emotional for Sanjay. After almost two decades, he was visiting the place where he grew up.
Sanjay was born in Srinagar and spent 19 years in the Valley before shifting to New Delhi with his family in 1990 after his father was killed by militants.
"It was hard for me to go back to the place and shoot there because of emotional reasons and that's why I kept delaying the shooting of the film. But once I was there I felt nice," he said.
"After the shoot, I went to my old school, the place I used to stay in and other hangouts. All the memories came back," the actor said.
Sikandar, which is being directed by Piyush Jha, also stars R. Madhavan and child actors Parzaan Dastur and Ayesha Kapur. The film will hit the screens in April.
Speaking about his character in the film, Sanjay said: "My character is a reformed militant leader. His benevolent manner is a soothing balm in many a volatile situation and he constantly attempts to broker peace between the various power centres."
So how difficult was it to prepare for the character?
"It was not very difficult to become Mukhtaar Mattoo (the character). Piyush had written all the details about the role. I definitely had to work on my walk, style of talking ... but because I am from Kashmir, it was easier for me to visualise this character," explained Sanjay, who has received critical acclaim for his performance in films like My Brother Nikhil, Pinjar and Jhankaar Beats.
The actor's upcoming projects include Nandita Das' directorial venture Firaaq, Sanjay Gupta's Alibaug and Anjum Rizvi's supernatural thriller Flat.