Chandan Roy Sanyal: 'I was fed up doing short-lived roles in Bollywood, Aashram was a game-changer'

Chandan Roy Sanyal: 'I was fed up doing short-lived roles in Bollywood, Aashram was a game-changer'

Chandan Roy Sanyal: 'I was fed up doing short-lived roles in Bollywood, Aashram was a game-changer'

Actor Chandan Roy Sanyal made his Bollywood entry with the 2006 film Rang De Basanti as Batukeshwar Dutt and went on doing small but remarkable roles in Hindi films including Kaminey, D-Day, and Nandita Das' directorial Manto. The actor, who has also received recognition for his performances in the 2012 Bengali drama film Aparajita Tumi along with doing English language films Midnight's Children, says that there was a time when he was very frustrated with the kind of roles Bollywood was offering to him.

The 42-year-old sat down with Firstpost for an interview on the sidelines of the announcement of the third season of the popular series 'Aashram' starring Bobby Deol in the lead role and directed by Prakash Jha. Titled Ek Badnaam… Aashram 3, it brings to light the hard-hitting narrative through a fictional story of megalomaniac Baba Nirala who continues to exploit women, indulge in the drug trade, and control the politics of the town.

Chandan, who essays the role of crooked Bhopa Swamy in the series, talks about how the MX Player show has changed his life as an actor and how acting is like spiritualism for him. He also remembers the time when he had to walk kilometres just to save Rs 10.

Excerpts from the interview:

How is Bhopa Swamy as a character different from your previous roles?

The kind of roles I did in the films was short-lived. I stopped doing films because I got so frustrated and fed up. My roles were like blink and miss kinds and that too after working so hard to prepare for that character but with OTT shows, I know that in a 9-hour plot, I have one hour to showcase my acting and show my complete graph. I am enjoying these experiences of working with veterans like Prakash Jha sir and I also get an opportunity to live and create the character for such a long time.

With two seasons already a success, what‘s new that you are doing with Season 3?

I have more to offer as an actor, I have thought a lot more and have added other dimensions to the character with the help of Prakash sir. I read the script and congratulated him for imagining Bhopa so beautifully even in the third season. He is a very improvising director who listens to the actor’s suggestions as well.

Prakash Jha is also an actor so how much of that has helped you while performing?

That definitely helps when your director is an actor too because that way he knows our mindset and can assume what we are thinking. Sometimes actors have the habit of constantly complaining about different things, for example, my car has not yet arrived, why I was given economy class and others are coming in business one, why his room is bigger than mine, etc. So he understands all these mindsets.

How has the Aashram opened doors for you as an actor?

This project has opened up a lot for me. I am getting roles that I didn't get before. The directors are calling me for parts that they normally would not consider. It's purely on the power of being an actor. I am not a social media star or get spotted at the airport or for that matter, wearing Gucci or Armani. I am purely hidden behind my acting and even mediate with my acting. People are cashing up on that energy now and I think it will only grow from here.

I think I have stuck to my guns for all these years, for example, I could have done 50 films but I probably did 18 films but people remembered whatever I did. I also feel that too much of anything is bad and that's the reason why the less I am seen, the better it is because that maintains the enigma. When I am 71 I want to create something beautiful, or when I am 77, I want to create something magical so for that, I have to save my energy.

How has the pandemic helped actors like you?

When everything was shut and people were stuck behind doors, they started consuming the content on ott like a maniac but what also happened in these two years is that people have actually got used to content-driven shows or films. I remember Satyajit Ray once said that our audience is not so evolved but in the last two years, the audience has evolved very much. They have many ott platforms and people are consuming content from all over the world. Also, they want their content to be at par and that has brought a lot of pressure on all of us as a creator. At the end of the day, the shows or films have to be content-driven otherwise the audience will not lap it up.

Only the songs won't entertain them anymore and this change has given a lot of space to people like us. Even Mr. Deol ( Bobby Deol) is getting something amazing to play. I think it's a lifetime role and I would love to play his character any day.

Do you follow spirituality?

A bit yes because I would like to be a better human being, I would like to stay close to the environment, and I don’t like to judge people. Spiritualism for a lot of people is about going to mountains and meditating in caves but spiritualism for me, which I have little understanding and read, is about day-to-day life. You could be materialistic but you also have to be nice to a person because your inner voice is consciously talking to you and you are the best judge of your life.

Would you like to talk about your struggles?

I am not the only one who has struggled, a lot of people have done that. But I remember those times as the most beautiful ones. It was amazing and when I look back, it is almost like a scene from a book, probably an autobiography. I remember doing some films where I was extra on sets and they promised me Rs. 700 bucks but gave me only Rs. 500 bucks. I went to Andheri Station and ate the black forest pastry that I used to stare at every day. I still remember that feeling of having that pastry with my money.

Also, I remember walking to Malad because my roommate asked me to save that last Rs 10 to buy potation and rice. That's how we celebrated the new year and these are beautiful memories. It feels like poetry because this shows how mad and passionate you were about something in life. It’s like living in the unknown and when you live in the unknown, things will happen.

Nivedita Sharma's work experience includes covering fashion weeks in Milan, Pakistan, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Dubai, and award functions like IIFA, and TOIFA. 

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