Suniel Shetty: People say I suck up to the media, but that is not true; they have kept me alive
From once being labelled as wooden and muscled to a point in his career when he went off the radar, Suniel Shetty has had quite an oscillating graph. But, he always managed to bounce back and how. Now, as he nears the 30-year milestone in the industry, he admits he’s getting roles that do justice to his age and talent.
“In these 29 years, I’ve seen success as well as failure. And then, 2015 onwards, I disappeared completely for some years. And despite that also, when you see the love (from fans), you realise there must be something right that you’d have done,” shares Shetty, who made his acting debut with Balwaan (1992).
Ever since, he forayed into Bollywood, he explored varied characters — from a braveheart in Border (1997) and a vengeful lover in Dhadkan (2000) to a terrorist in Main Hoon Na (2004).
“People, including the media, kept me alive, and suddenly you feel you have a new lease of life. But through my ups and down, I didn’t let go of anything. I kept myself fit, relevant, active and continued to do the kind of work I was doing,” he says, calling it a “beautiful journey” so far.
Shetty recalls, “From someone who was called wooden to having delivered iconic films like Border, Hera Pheri, Hu Tu Tu or Mohra, people still talk about these films... so many memes are still.”
The father of two, Athiya and Ahaan Shetty, credits people for keeping his career alive during the lull period and he considers himself blessed for that. “Everybody says, ‘I think you suck up to the media’. That’s not true at all. They’ve kept me alive. And if I don’t appreciate that, then why am I doing whatever I’m doing,” he wonders.
Now, Shetty is happy to explore new stories in this phase of his career, and he shares the roles coming his way are “doing justice to my age, justice to my past work”.
He elaborates, “They aren’t just brilliant characters, but something that drive the whole story. I always think, yes I’m enjoying this, but is there any takeaway. I’m doing work on the web and in films that show me as 60-year-old, and doing justice to my personality.”
According to Shetty, new scripts are being written for senior actors, which brings new energy in the industry.
“The kind of respect women get in the film industry today, the senior actors, 60 plus, are also getting path breaking roles. These kind of things work like magic,” he signs off.