“My workout at 22? I filled 40 buckets of water a day with a hand pump!” says Sanjay Mishra

The actor talks about getting a scholarship from NSD, having a strong bond with his family and having an inclination to music back then
Sanjay Mishra at 22 (inset), and at 56 (above)
Sanjay Mishra at 22 (inset), and at 56 (above)
Published on Sep 04, 2021 09:40 PM IST
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By Dinesh Raheja

Where were you career-wise?

I had no career then. It was later that I got a scholarship from NSD (National School of Drama).

What was your bank balance like?

I didn’t have a bank account then.

Sanjay experimenting with his looks, though he wasn’t an actor yet
Sanjay experimenting with his looks, though he wasn’t an actor yet

What was your family life like?

Though they were always worried about my career, I had a good relationship with my parents, my father (the late) Shambhu Nath Mishra and my mother Meera. I was born in Patna but we shifted to Delhi.  My siblings, (the late) Sumit, Amit and Meenal, loved me and gave me a positive vibe. When my younger brother started working as a journalist, he supported me.

When he fractured his foot and had to stay at home for a month
When he fractured his foot and had to stay at home for a month

What was your relationship status?

I was in a relationship with a village girl, but it didn’t last long.

What was your focus in life?

I was in the process of discovering my potential. This was before my acting phase — I wasn’t aware that I was going to become an actor. I had a slight inclination towards music but I was clueless about what I wanted to achieve in life.

With his siblings Sumit, Meenal and Amit
With his siblings Sumit, Meenal and Amit

Which places you had travelled to?

Nepal, Bihar, Delhi, Bhopal and Varanasi.

What was your fashion sense like back then?

My fashion sense was really great from a young age (laughs). I would wear Hara jeans from Nepal and rubber chappals.

Sanjay donning a hat for his first photoshoot
Sanjay donning a hat for his first photoshoot

What was your fitness quotient?

My weight was around 50kgs. I played cricket and football, walked and cycled a lot. But the best workout was thanks to the handpump — I filled 40 buckets of water a day.

Your usual mode of travel?

Bus, train and my feet. I walked a lot. 

With brother Sumit (right) in their neighbourhood during his NSD days
With brother Sumit (right) in their neighbourhood during his NSD days

What was your biggest dream?

I had a talent for copying the signatures of dignitaries like Indira Gandhi, Amitabh Bachchan and so on. So, I wanted to become someone whom people would ask for autographs.

Who were your idols when you were 22?

Ravi Shankar, Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan, Govind Maharaj, Kishan Maharaj, Lacchu Maharaj in music. In cricket, it was Sunil Gavaskar and in films, I was inspired by Amitabh Bachchan, Satyajit Ray and Guru Dutt. 

At home with his brothers Sumit (left) and Amit (right), and mother Meera
At home with his brothers Sumit (left) and Amit (right), and mother Meera

A memory from that time that has left an impression?

I went to fetch my uncle from the railway station. He had travelled in the first class air-conditioned compartment, and I really liked the compartment. I was delighted to get a chance to sit in it till my uncle told me, ‘This compartment is not for people like you!’

From HT Brunch, September 5, 2021

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Tuesday, October 19, 2021