Chandan Roy Sanyal in Prague
Kaminey actor Chandan Roy Sanyal’s first solo hero film Prague, directed by Ashish R. Shukla and set to release in November, was screened at the 12th Osian’s Cinefan Film Festival in Delhi. Chandan tells t2 why Prague is the most challenging film he has ever done and why it’s difficult to make a mark in Bollywood for an outsider like him.
What kind of feedback did you get for Prague at Osian’s?
Outstanding! Eclectic! All superlatives! We had a question-answer session post the screening and people thought that the film was one of its kind, very cross-cultural and a completely new form of filmmaking. You don’t see editing, camera, story, performances, characters like this in mainstream films…. I got some very interesting comments from very interesting people. They thought that I could carry the entire film on my shoulders beautifully.
What is Prague about?
It’s a film based in Prague, on Prague, by Prague. It’s about the architecture of Prague and the history of the city and how an Indian goes there and has some psychological experiences there. The film is about multiple personality disorder.
Prague is the first film where you play the lead...
Yes and that’s why it’s very important. I think it has guided me on to a new track. Before Prague happened I was on a broken muddy track and I didn’t know what to do. I was just going on. Suddenly Prague happened and I felt like I was on the highway again! Feels good. Prague is also important because it’s such a difficult role. It was really challenging to play an architect. I am playing a Bengali architect who lives in Mumbai (laughs). I have spoken a lot of Bengali in the film and the audience at Osian’s have really enjoyed that. There’s Money porey Ruby Roy which I sing throughout the film!
Why did you do an offbeat film like Prague in the first place?
Because it would give me that space and dimension and that room to perform. In all my earlier films... I would not say I wasn’t given enough room... I was given maybe one room, but in Prague I was in a bigger room. Lots of more emotions to portray and it required a different form of acting. Because once you have a film completely based on you from point A to point B you can see the character graph very clearly.
As an actor I knew where to start and where to mellow down or where to be louder. In other films I’m probably there for 15-20 minutes. But here I am there for two hours. I think I could bring forth the intricacies of the character and the psychology of an architect who’s mentally depressed. It’s a very dark film. It’s also very exciting because my character is called Chandan in the film. That’s a very eerie feeling. It’s sort of amazing to be called by your name while you are somebody else. At times it kind of f***ked my head!
How did you prepare yourself for the role?
I did workshops. I even took workshops with the other actors. I was the acting co-ordinator for other actors who were newcomers (Elena Kazan, Arfi Lamba) compared to me. I had also taken some lessons on architecture from a friend of mine who is an architect from MIT.
Your last two films— Tell Me Kkhuda and F.A.L.T.U didn’t work...
Films like F.A.L.T.U and Tell Me Kkhuda didn’t work for me for various reasons and so I had to take stock and decide what I wanted to do. I did these two different films — Prague and BMW — and in a strange way the satisfaction of doing these two films matches up to that of Kaminey’s. Prague is in the same bracket as a Dev D or a Shaitan. This kind of films which are obviously not meant for everybody. But I would say Prague will be enjoyed by the youngsters. Immediately after Prague, BMW will release. It’s got Tannishtha Chatterjee, Jaaved Jaaferi and Vijay Raaz. I play a underworld informer who is a Salman Khan fan and he is in love with Vanilla, a bar girl. It’s a very sweet love story with a murder mystery.
How difficult is it getting lead roles in Bollywood?
It’s very difficult for an outsider to make his mark! Since I got my first film with Mr Vishal Bhardwaj, I have to do a certain kind of films so as to not let him down. I consider him my guru. Whatever films I do, I discuss with him and stay in touch with him. I don’t come from a very rich family. My parents don’t send me money. I don’t drive a flashy car. Everything I have done, I have done on my own. I kept that focus going. And it took me three years. On August 14 Kaminey turned three. Yes, it’s very difficult to be doing what I am doing and what I want to do.
You will be in Calcutta in the winter for Anjan Dutt’s Ganesh Talkies...
Yes. It’s a bilingual film. Raima (Sen) is opposite me and for the first time I will be doing a rom-com where I have to love a beautiful girl and sing songs to charm her! So I am really looking forward to it.