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Jawan actor Sangay Tsheltrim: ‘Shah Rukh sir said, Sangay thank you very much for accepting the role’

What he knows he teaches others and is also willing to learn from others what he doesn’t know, says Bhutanese actor Sangay Tsheltrim about SRK

Sameer Salunkhe Calcutta Published 12.09.23, 01:17 PM
Sangay Tsheltrim debuted in Bollywood with Salman Khan-starrer Radhe in 2021.

Sangay Tsheltrim debuted in Bollywood with Salman Khan-starrer Radhe in 2021. Twitter

Before becoming an actor, he served in the army and the training is coming in handy for Sangay Tsheltrim. The Bhutanese actor has a small but significant role in Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Jawan, which is mowing down all box office records.

Sangay, who served as an army officer as well as a Royal Guard to the King of Bhutan, made his Bollywood debut with Salman Khan’s Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai in 2021. He is also there in Neeraj Pandey’s The Freelancer, streaming on Disney+ Hotstar. In a freewheeling chat, Sangay talks about Jawan, his experience of working with Shah Rukh and his plans for Bhutanese cinema.

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What do you have to say about the love Jawan has been receiving since its release?

Sangay Tsheltrim: It is obvious that Shah Rukh sir will get this kind of love because he is a global icon. What is more overwhelming is that Jawan has broken Pathaan’s record. For me, sharing the screen space with Shah Rukh sir itself is a big thing. Being part of a historic film that has broken all the records of the first-day collection makes me feel very happy. I have watched all the public reactions and reviews. It’s a phenomenal feeling.

How did your family and friends react to the film?

Sangay Tsheltrim: I have received messages and calls from my family, friends and relatives from Bhutan, Australia and the Middle East. They liked my role and said that they were very happy. They’re celebrating the movie. In Jawan, I don’t have a huge role but whatever screen time I have I think I did justice to it and people are appreciating it.

How did you land the role in Jawan?

Sangay Tsheltrim: The makers of Jawan saw me in Radhe. They wanted an oriental look for the character and since it’s an action film I think I suited the role. I got a call from Mukesh Chhabra’s Casting Company (MCCC) in August 2021. They said that it was a movie with Shah Rukh Khan and asked me whether I was available for the shoot. They needed me to be available throughout for five-six months. Unfortunately, at that time I had my own movie production in Bhutan which was set to roll in October. I told MCCC that I wouldn’t be able to do it.

Later, I got a call from the direction team. One of the assistant directors told me that it was a pivotal role and that most of my screen time was with Shah Rukh sir. Somehow he convinced me and I decided to postpone my shoot in Bhutan and accepted the role in Jawan. I had only a week’s time before I flew to Pune and started my first schedule.

What is your most memorable incident while filming with Shah Rukh Khan?

Sangay Tsheltrim: I come from a tiny Himalayan kingdom called Bhutan which has about seven lakh population. Being able to come here and penetrate Bollywood and sharing screen space with such a huge superstar is a great honour for me

The first time I met him, sir just shook hands with me and hugged me and said, ‘Sangay, thank you very much for accepting the role. Welcome onboard.’ That really touched me.

When he comes on set, he greets everybody, from the co-actors to all the crew members. He does not differentiate between people. And while leaving the set, he says bye and thank you to everyone. He knows that we would get nervous while acting with him because of his stature. He makes us feel comfortable.

Although he’s an experienced actor and a superstar, he’s ready to learn from everyone. Once I saw that Vijay Sethupathi was suggesting something to him in a scene and he took that suggestion. What he knows, he teaches others and he’s also willing to learn from others what he doesn’t know. I will also try to adopt this quality in my life.

You have had the chance to work with the biggies of Bollywood. Jawan with SRK, Radhe with Salman Khan and The Freelancer under Neeraj Pandey’s direction. How do you plan to capitalise on this exposure?

Sangay Tsheltrim: I felt lucky when Salman Khan gave me such a big break. In 2018, I made my acting debut in Bhutan and to get a role in a Salman Khan movie within a year was a big thing. That’s how I got Jawan and The Freelancer. I have done five projects so far. I just want to take a short break and if good roles come to me, then I’m willing to take them up.

I’m focusing on my home productions because back in Bhutan, we need a lot of improvements in cinema. Whatever ideas and connections I have in India, I’m going to capitalise on them and create good movies in Bhutan.

Looking at your physicality, most people would offer you action movies.

Sangay Tsheltrim: Yeah, that’s true [laughs].

But do you want to do other kinds of roles and films?

Sangay Tsheltrim: I am not a comedy or romance kind of person. I have an intimidating look, so I don’t think I should jump into those genres. I am happy with what I am doing right now. But I would like to do movies where I can show my emotions and I think I can do that well. I think people like to see muscular people getting emotional sometimes too. It would be great to get audiences teary-eyed in India too. That’s my goal now.

In your transition from being an army officer to becoming an actor, what has changed in your life and what still remains the same?

Sangay Tsheltrim: I feel that I’m still a soldier. Despite being in the glamour industry, I don’t party or drink. So, for me, nothing really changed personally. But I get to meet different kinds of people now and visit different places. I’m following the army discipline now as well. I don’t miss my workout even for a single day. I reach the set five minutes before my call time. I still function like a military officer.

My army discipline has helped me a lot because no matter what career you are in, the most important things are discipline and time management. I follow a simple routine of having meals on time, doing my workouts, improving my skills and sleeping on time. Once in a while, I go out to watch a movie.

How has been your stay in India?

Sangay Tsheltrim: I was born and brought up in a town near the India-Bhutan border. I don’t find India a foreign country. I did my training here in India at the National Defence Academy and one at IMA. I have many friends in the Indian Army. So, I feel at home in India.

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