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Last year, Sanjay Suri teamed up with film maker Onir and played the lead character in the film My Brother Nikhil. Both the film and Suri's performance were highly appreciated and the film won many awards around the globe. And now, Sanjay stars again in Onir's Bas Ek Pal which is a story about human relationships. So let's talk with Sanjay Suri and know more about the film.
What is Bas Ek Pal all about?
Bas Ek Pal is an urban fiction. It is a story which revolves around five key characters and one defining moment. That Pal, that moment, which kind of decides the fate of their lives, changes the course of their life and the direction of their life. And because of that one moment, the relationships get redefined and with new challenges. The film is full of drama, very intense, emotional, passionate, tragic and overall sums into a very sensible commercial film.
The film is said to be about "urban relationships". How do you define urban relationships?
Urban relationships relate to people living in urban India, in a metro like Mumbai. It depends upon their take on life, their aspirations and goals. Also, their way of thinking and their values. Therefore, in a big city mind rules over the heart rather heart ruling over the mind and where you have to take certain decisions in spite of you not wanting them to, just because the pace is so fast. That is what the film revolves around. So that's why we say urban fiction or urban relationships.
Tell us about your character in the film?
I play the character of a guy called Nikhil. He is a very intense and passionate guy. He lives from the heart and not from the mind. He is very impulsive and wants to live life king-size. He is also very short tempered because of which he finds himself many a times in trouble. But he justifies that because he took a decision. Besides, he is an orphan, so every important decision in his life is taken by himself. He is a self made man, an independent kind of a guy. Therefore, he is the kind of guy who thinks about himself first rather than about the other guy. But he still is very charming, in spite of being very intense, very cocky and arrogant. Sometimes he cannot distinguish between passion and obsession. He gets obsessive sometimes, he doesn't know where to draw the line and then kind of comes back and realizes. He is not really possessive but he is obsessive by nature sometimes.
Onir says that he had signed you before everyone else for this film. So how is the whole experience of working with Onir?
Working with Onir is a brilliant experience. Not only because he is a friend but because he is also a thorough professional, extremely tough task master. He is a very demanding director. But at end of the day, its all for the film and it shows in his work. He is a very sensitive human being and understands human relationships extremely well and that shows in his films be it My Brother Nikhil or Bas Ek Pal. This is just his second film but the maturity with which he has dealt this subject is amazing.
How was the experience of working with Urmila Matondkar?
Well, I've enjoyed working with Urmila. We didn't share much screen space in Pinjar, which was our first film together, as her character is left behind in Pakistan and my character comes in India. But here we are cast opposite each other. And I must say that she is a very thorough professional, very hard working actress. We got some great scenes together in this film. While doing those scenes it was like living that moment with her because she got into the skin of the character so well. The scenes also demanded a lot from us. There was also a baggage while saying the dialogues because lots of things are happening in the mind of the characters in those scenes. So, it was a great experience working with Urmila.
How was the ambience on the sets while filming as the subject of the film is very intense?
Whether a film is complex or simple completely depends upon the script. But while shooting any film, be it a comedy or tragedy, the mood of the set remains very light. Because as it is you go through so much while working on a film, it is therefore very important to maintain a light mood in the unit. So, while shooting the film, we would joke around and have fun. Jimmy is a very good friend and great costar; in fact he plays my friend in the film. With Juhi this is my third film, Onir is a friend, the DOP is a friend and so is the producer. Hence, I think within the parameters, an actor tries to joke around and make the atmosphere light. Also, we work around for long hours, so with that kind of work pressure, you need to laugh out a little.
Do you think My Brother Nikhil helped changed people's perspective towards HIV affected and also 'Homosexual' people?
According to me, My Brother Nikhil is an extremely successful film. Even after one and a half year of its release, the film is still screened by universities, festivals, NGOs and by people working to control the spreading of HIV-AIDS. It is still spreading the message, not just about HIV-AIDS but about acceptance whether it's the taboo subjects like homosexuality or stigma attached to HIV-AIDS awareness. I think it has served another purpose altogether which is brilliant. And I'm so proud that we made this film.
Your future projects?
After Bas Ek Pal, there is another film I'm doing called Speed, which directed by Vikram Bhatt. Then there is a very cute romantic comedy which is coming up called Kabhi Up Kabhi Down. It has me and Perizaad Zorabian. I'm looking forward to that one as well.
What is the status of My Bollywood Bride?
I really don't know. The film is ready. I think they are looking for international distribution because it has to get mainstream American release.
Why did you walk out of Sunglass?
Well, I discussed the role at length with Rituparno. So, we came to a certain decision where he realized that I wasn't much excited about the role. I had some reservations about the role and he respected that fact and said 'ok, let's do something later'. I stepped back and that's when Madhavan came in. I like Rituparno as a director and we might work together in the future but for this film my character didn't excite me. So, I gracefully stepped back.
Do you think the audiences here are now accepting reality based films?
I think it is very unfair to differentiate films into say commercial or art. I think it's just kind of blended into one. All films are being watched, every film has an audience, and every film has a shelf life. Whether the film is sensible or not is the question. Earlier there was a distinction because certain art films never crossed into mainstream and vice versa. Today, you have a page 3 doing commercially well. It had no big stars, yet it has done amazing business. Then you have a subject like Black which does well with mainstream actors. So, I think the divide doesn't exist anymore. It's really wrong today to divide films like art and commercial. Today, every film is commercial, every film is like a product and it has a market and its takers. It's just that the magnitude may vary. All the films are shown in multiplexes and therefore I think the entire rules of the business are changing.