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Roles as good as a lead, but such a small part in film promotions? Saurabh Shukla says why

Actor Saurabh Shukla, like other very strong character actors in Bollywood, rarely takes the centre stage when his films are promoted. He is pragmatic about it, saying, ‘We must not forget the popularity of a star — that you can’t deny.’

bollywood Updated: Mar 21, 2018 17:54 IST
Monika Rawal Kukreja
Monika Rawal Kukreja
Hindustan Times
Saurabh Shukla,Raid,Jolly LLB
Actor Saurabh Shukla has portrayed important roles in films such as Satya, PK, Jolly LLB, and most recently, Raid.

Having played a variety of supporting characters, actor Saurabh Shukla is one of Bollywood’s finest. With films such as Satya, PK, Jolly LLB (parts 1 and 2) in his kitty, Shukla has a huge fan base. While his roles come under the ‘supporting’ category, they have mostly had the same heft as the lead. The latest example is Raid, where Shukla’s corrupt, menacing antagonist has equal weight as Ajay Devgn’s righteous protagonist.

The question is: why do we not see such a seasoned and popular actor, playing such pivotal roles, when the films are promoted across India through public interaction?

“That’s not entirely true, because I’m called for the promotions of the films here and there,” says the actor, who will be seen next in Daas Dev.

Other powerful character actors such as Pankaj Tripathi, Sanjay Mishra, Pavan Malhotra, and Manoj Joshi are also mostly missing from the promotional scene, though they’re central to a film, e.g. Tripathi’s cynical CRPF officer lit up the screen in Newton (2017). But it was Rajkummar Rao, cast in the titular role, who was everywhere.

“We mustn’t forget the popularity of a star — that you can’t deny. A star has a much bigger audience bank and people are more interested in [their] life,” explains Shukla, adding that one slowly attains that stage as one works more.

He recalls how, 15 years ago, people didn’t want to know about him so much, “but now, they want to know a little more about me. It’s the popularity quotient and has nothing to do with your talent or art.”

Actor Saurabh Shukla in a still from the Ajay Devgn-starrer Raid.

The 55-year-old actor points out that film promotions are led by marketing strategies, “hence, they’re film-centric and not actor-centric. So, I’m not sure if it should be felt that if I don’t go for the film’s promotion, I haven’t been given my due.” He adds, “The marketing team very carefully decides what is good for the film.”

Having said that, Shukla considers himself fortunate enough to have bagged some great roles and scripts. He says, “I’m doing what I love and that’s what matters. When the audience looks at an actor, they always say it’s the actor who is doing wonders [in a film], but that’s not the truth. To have a good performance, you have to have a good script on your side and equally good actors [as co-stars]. So, I’ve been lucky that I got to do some films that were very well-written, got some brilliant parts to play, and had great co-actors.”

Interact with Monika Rawal Kukreja at Twitter/@monikarawal

First Published: Mar 21, 2018 17:54 IST