He is known as much for his good looks as for his impeccable acting talent. Having debuted with Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi, Sanjay Suri proved his acting prowess in films like Jhankaar Beats, Pinjar and My Brother Nikhil. Sanjay is now all excited about his latest film Sorry Bhai where he teams up with director Onir for the third time. Bollywood Hungama got a chance to have a rendezvous with Sanjay where he spoke at length about Sorry Bhai, his stint as a producer and his future projects. Read On…
After My Brother Nikhil and Bas Ek Pal, Onir and you are back together with yet another film Sorry Bhai. Quite a wacky title, what’s the film all about?
Ya… It’s got nothing to do with the Underworld ‘Bhai’s though (laughs). Sorry Bhai is essentially a light-hearted, fun loving and romantic film. It also throws some light on forbidden love since you have one brother falling in love with the other brother’s fiancee. It’s not intense like My Brother Nikhil or Bas Ek Pal, but still has its own complicated situations.
What character do you play in the film?
I play the older brother to Sharman Joshi’s character. Both the brothers are very diverse from each other. I play a very ambitious kind of a guy and for me work is worship and hence, I want success at any cost. I run a stock broking company in Mauritius. Caught too much in my work, this character at times overlooks and neglects his personal life which is when his fiancee starts getting attracted to his brother (smiles).
Chitrangda and I go back a long way. Before she starred in Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi, we had done a music video for Gulzar saab called ‘Sunset Point’ way back in 2000. The film has you paired opposite Chitrangda Singh who was last seen in Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi. How was it working with her?
Actually, Chitrangda and I go back a long way. Before she starred in Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi, we had done a music video for Gulzarsaab called ‘Sunset Point’. That was long back in the year 2000. She was absolute new then, we shot in Manali. In spite of being quite raw then, she had something in her and the camera loved her. Then of course in Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi she was absolutely brilliant. I’m happy that she chose our film Sorry Bhai as her comeback film. Chitrangda is a very intelligent woman, extremely professional, very easy going as an actress and just comes alive in front of the camera. We thought she would take some time to get back to the groove after a long break but in the first schedule itself she warmed up to the camera and was bang on target.
You play elder brother to Sharman in the film. What kind of male bonding took place between the two of you?
In the film we are very close to each other but since my focus has always been work, with time there is a distance that grows in between these two brothers. Sharman is a fine actor, we’ve seen him doing a lot of different stuff (such as comedy) in his recent films but in Sorry Bhai, he plays someone who is intense yet vulnerable, funny yet emotional hence he really gets to showcase his skills as an actor.
Sharman really gets to showcase his skills as an actor in Sorry Bhai; he plays someone who is intense yet vulnerable, funny yet emotional. Do you have siblings in real life?
Ya, I have an older brother.
What equation do you share with your real life ‘bhai’?
Definitely not the one I share with Sharman in the film (laughs). My older brother is very similar to me and we approach things in a similar fashion. He is in Australia, he’s an ex-shippie but he loves photography so he became a photographer. He’s a guy who follows his passion.
In the film, you have Shabana Azmi and Boman Irani playing your parents. How did that feel?
After seeing the film people would love to have a dad like Boman because he is more of a friend than a dad to his sons. He doesn’t have the communication gap between father and son, which is often seen in real life. Working with Shabanaji and Boman was pure joy and I am saying this not just as an actor but also as the co-producer of the film. If you have co-operative cast and crew then the whole process becomes easy going and it was that in the case of Sorry Bhai. And as far as acting goes, they are not insecure or selfish actors who only bother about their role. Working with people such as Shabanaji and Boman Irani is like doing a workshop; it even helps you grow as an actor. You are working with actors who are all working towards enhancing the team without disturbing the fabric of the film; so it was a nice collaborative effort. It was fun working with such secure and talented people.
After seeing the film people would love to have a dad like Boman because he is more of a friend than a dad to his sons You seem to be a permanent member of all of Onir’s films. How has it been working with him yet again?
It’s just been three films yaar (laughs). If you look at David Dhawan-Govinda they have done like almost a dozen films together. We first worked together in My Brother Nikhil and then did Bas Ek Pal. He has also grown as a director and I’ve also learnt a lot over the years. With time and experience, you mature. I’m happy that Onir’s doing a lighter film this time around and is digressing from the genre of his last two films. When he came to me with this subject, I was ready to support him as a friend. Hence, my involvement with the project both as an actor and a producer. We do have our share of fights and arguments but at the same we respect each others professional space. It’s like we might disagree with one another but at the end of the day I support his decision and vice versa.
I’m happy that Onir’s doing a lighter film this time around and is digressing from the genre of his last two films. Sorry Bhai has you not just as an actor but even as one of the producers. How did that happen?
It actually started with My Brother Nikhil; no one else was willing to produce it so we decided to produce the film (laughs) and I’m glad that we did it. For Sorry Bhai, Mr Vashu Bhagnani came on board as one of the producers. We (Onir and I) now have our own production house-Anticlock Films and we are looking forward to making some good cinema
How easy or difficult is it juggling between your responsibilities as an actor and a producer?
I would be lying if I say that there are no production pressures and hassles. But if you have a good team, then the whole journey becomes that much easier. When you are only acting, you just do your bit but as a producer your involvement goes much deeper in each and every department of the film. And it empowers you to push the envelope in many ways and also get a feeling of ownership and pride. I enjoy it but we are not regular producers. If we like something and we get suitable funding for it, we’ll do it.
The music of both My Brother Nikhil and Bas Ek Pal were huge successes. One hasn’t heard much of the music of Sorry Bhai. How has the music shaped up?
The music of Sorry Bhai is very appropriate for the film. The songs take the film forward. The music is such that it will grow on you further when you watch the film.
Coming back to your career, you started off pretty well with films like Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi, Jhankaar Beats, Pinjar and even My Brother Nikhil. Post that you were seen in quite a few forgettable flicks like Bas Ek Pal, Speed, Say Salaam India etc…Do you regret doing some of these films?
Not really… Its just misfortune I feel at times. Say Salaam India for example was a very good film but with India’s World Cup debacle, the film’s prospects got hampered badly. Yes… over the last year and a half year, there has been a slight dip in my career. But I have been focusing on this film and my production company. Now I have 5 films in the pipeline.
What are some of your future projects?
After Sorry Bhai, you’ll see me in Nandita Das’ directorial venture Firaaq, and then there is Sikander which is produced by Sudhir Mishra and directed by Piyush Jha. I play a Kashmiri politician in that film and it also stars Madhavan, Ayesha Kapoor, Parzan etc. It’s a drama thriller shot almost entirely in Kashmir. Besides that there is Sanjay Gupta’s Alibaug and Anjum Rizvi’s Flat- a supernatural thriller which stars Jimmy Shergill and me. Most of these films are complete, while some are in their final stages of post-production.
There is no conscious decision as such to focus on only one particular genre because an actor chooses from what he/ she has been offered. What kind of roles are you looking forward to doing at this juncture? Any plans of an image makeover.
There is no conscious decision as such to focus on only one particular genre because an actor chooses from what he/ she has been offered. In all my future 5 films, my role is diverse from one another. I am looking at doing a light hearted, sensible, contemporary comedy like say a Jhankar Beats or Khosla Ka Ghosla. I am reading a few scripts, let’s see. Keeping my fingers crossed.
So are you going to focus more on acting or on film production?
I am first an actor and then a producer (smiles)
Finally, what is the USP of Sorry Bhai
I think Sorry Bhai has a very wide range of audience which it can please. Despite the film talking of a bold and complicated situation, its treatment is very light. Family audiences will enjoy this film as it doesn’t challenge your sensibilities. Last but not the least it has fine performances by Chitrangda, Sharman, Boman and Shabana. To sum up, it’s a nice, feel good film.