First Pyar Mein Kabhie Kabhie, then Jhankar Beats, My Brother Nikhil, Bas Ek Pal. Actor Sanjay Suri dared to break barriers and explore unchartered territory.
Ask him about his unconventional run in Bollywood and he says, “It’s not that I consciously decided to explore films which had subjects ahead of their times, but I had to choose the best from what was offered to me. In fact, I can say I have been a regular for these various subjects that are under the carpet.”
Right now Sanjay is all ready for his next two releases – Sudhir Mishra’s Sikandar and Nandita Das’ Firaaq. He plays a politician based in Kashmir in Sikandar trying to make peace. Being a Kashmiri himself, ideally this should be a subject very close to the actor but he denies that. “Kashmir is my homeland and I do feel emotional whenever I talk about it. But this subject could be based in any city which has faced hostility and unrest in some way.” The film has brought back some good as well as bad memories for the actor as he relives the experience. Having lost his father to terrorist killings some 19 years back, Sanjay’s family had fled from the state to find shelter in Delhi. “When I landed in Srinagar for the shoot after such a long time, it really felt nostalgic. I still feel hopeful that someday, there will be more than one flower blooming in each garden and people would be eating from the same plate as per the age-old customs in Kashmir.”
The actor who received wide acclaim for his character in My Brother Nikhil and more recently Sorry Bhai, feels that everything depends on a hit film in Bollywood. He talks about Jhankaar Beats and tells us how that was a film much ahead of its time and Rock On! was quite similar to it, but it never got the adulation it deserved. “Every film has its own destiny. Look at Filhaal, Sorry Bhai and even My Brother Nikhil. I think I am associated with films, which never got their due. Sometimes, I feel actors like us are underutilised because of the short-sightedness of filmmakers and we continue to get the same things.”
With a son and psychologist wife Ambica, Sanjay is however grateful that in spite of not having got commercial success he is still getting enough work to run his house. He’s also turning a producer. “It’s important to have a passion so strong that you are willing to cross the hurdles,” he signs off.