Ronit Roy, Sanjay Mishra, Gajraj Rao, Renuka Shahane: Why are acting chops being squandered on shoddy scripts?
Actors and trade experts from the industry talk about what leads to some great talents ending up doing characters that do not justify the potential they hold.
We often see poor scripts are elevated by good performances. But what do you expect when the best of actors are given sketchy characters to perform in a badly written story. Case in point: Ronit Roy in Shehzada, Gajraj Rao in Bholaa, Sanjay Mishra in Jogira Sara Ra Ra, Renuka Shahahe in Govindaa Naam Mera (2022) and Siddhant Jhadav in Cirkus (2022). Such actors, known for their versatility, were reduced to frivolous parts in certain projects that it left their fans, and audience at large, disappointed. The bigger question is: Is it fair to sacrifice talented performers at the altar of shoddy scripts? Should actors not have a say if they’re not convinced with their character sketch?
EVERY PERSON IS THE BEST JUDGE OF THEIR WORK
Actor Gajraj Rao calls himself “very selective” in picking films, and that’s why he never regrets any part he has essayed. “I thoroughly read the script, understand my characters well, see who all are part of the project, and if I’m not convinced, I don’t agree. But despite that if someone does not like me in a certain role, I understand,” says Rao, adding, “Everyone has a different opinion. You can’t expect each person to agree with what you like. If I start getting bothered by what people like to see, I won’t be able to survive in this industry. I feel, you’re the best judge of your work, so I only focus on what I think is good for me.”
Actor Renuka Shahane, whose character of Vicky Kaushal’s mother, Asha Waghmare in the comedy thriller Govinda Naam Mera (2022) was highly criticised, doesn’t not believe in not taking “vague opinions” of people very seriously. She says, “I welcome suggestions about how to do a role better. However, if you tell me that this role wasn’t good enough for me, it does not make sense to me. It’s silly. How is it going to change anything for me? I can only do what’s being offered to me.”
IT’S VERY MUCH A CONSCIOUS DECISION
Actor Ronit Roy, who played Kartik Aaryan’s father in Shehzada, respects audience’s opinions, but is quick to point out that these decisions are often determined by various factors.
“I’ve to put bread on the table by end of the day. That’s why I have to create a balance between the films that I like and projects, which will facilitate that bread on the table. I don’t know what the industry thinks about me, but I never feel short-changed because I sign the film knowing what my role is,” he says.
Actor Kanwaljit Singh, who was seen in a neglectable role (Huma Qureshi’s father) in Double XL (2022) admits there are times an actor doesn’t have much say beyond just performing a scene in front of the camera. “As an actor, I’ve to tell myself that whatever I have, I have to give my best. Whether it’s a bad film, or bad role, I have to give my 100 per cent, because that is my riyaz.”
Trade expert Taran Adarsh adds in agreement that actors’ judgement can in no way be blamed for such misfires. “Actors very well know what they are signing up for. Nobody is cheating or lying to them or making false promises. This used to happen earlier when there was no hard bound script, but that’s not the case anymore,” he says.
INEFFECTIVE SCRIPT-TO-SCREEN TRANSITION
Sharing a fresh perspective, trade expert Atul Mohan explains how at times, the character’s strength gets lost in script-to-screen transition, and hence it is not an actor’s fault.
“Paper par jo hota hai, wo bahut exciting hota hai. I’ve been part of so many narrations where the director described a character in such a way that any actor would get convinced. But it did not translate well in the final outcome,” shares Mohan.
Stating that filmmaking is a very organic process, director Madhur Bhandarkar sheds light on why there could be gaps in a script and how the actual role pans out. “While working on a project, the makers might feel that they need to cut short a certain role because a certain track is not very relevant, or there are more important scenes to retain, leading to people feeling that a particular actor wasn’t utilised to his/her full potential in the film,” he elaborates.
Director Anees Bazmee, however, opposes the idea of casting great actors of trivial parts and stresses that the onus lies with the makers to ensure that. “Sometimes, filmmakers take good names in the film only to add more value, despite knowing that there isn’t much for the actor to do here. That’s not fair. So, instead of wasting a talent, makers should be mindful of whom to cast,” he says.
IT’S ALL ABOUT WORKING WITH GOOD PEOPLE
Siddharth Jadhav, who never fails to impress audiences with his comic timing, he was brutally called out for his cringe and over-the-top acting in Rohit Shetty’s Cirkus (2022). He admits that sometimes actors sign up a film only to collaborate with a director and banner irrespective of how good or bad a role is. “Kabhi kabhi achhe logon ke saath kaam karna bhi impactful hota hai. That’s why I worked in Cirkus. I also did Radhe (2021), which had Salman Khan in the lead and was directed by Prabhu Deva. That film gave me an opportunity to explore myself, to main kyu na karun,” he says.
Roy, concurs and shares that there have been times when he ended up doing a project only because he really liked the makers or didn’t want to ruin his relationship with a particular director. “For example, I’m doing a small part in the big film Bade Miyan Chote Miyaan. I am doing it because it’s Ali Abbas Zafar, and I will do even one scene if he asks me to. I love him.”