A great deal is happening in actor Sanjay Suri’s life, and he’s lovin’ it all.
“I’m able to do what I want to, I’m learning each day. And at the end of it all, there’ll be another film that I’ll be proud of. I’d like to do different roles, and if the industry doesn’t offer me some, I’ll try to create them. I’m looking to do a light-hearted film now, I think I’ve done enough strong, character roles.”
One of these “strong” roles might have been that of Rajiv Gandhi in the Sonia Gandhi biopic that Jagmohan Mundhra’s planning to make, even if it gets banned later. Sanjay is (was?) supposed to play Rajiv in the film. What’s happening to that? “I’m not sure if that project is still in the making. I don’t think it’s being made,” he says.
Maybe not the Gandhis, but something else is common to Mundhra and Sanjay as of now – both have been to Kashmir. After having spent the first 19 years of his life in the Valley, Sanjay gets nostalgic when he narrates his experience during the shoot of his film Sikander there. “What attracted me to the project was that it reminded me of the place where I spent my childhood, and of the time when I had to shift out of Srinagar with my family because my father was murdered by the terrorists,” he says.
He says he’s surprised by how much the Valley had changed. “I left in 1990, and it was after 18 years that I visited Kashmir again because of the film shoot. The place has changed so much. When we left, there was mass migration. But for me, going back was a little tougher because we had left in tragic circumstances. One reason was the film… and the other was confronting my past. It was cathartic. I’m glad that I faced it. I met a lot of people I grew up with. There were some people… this waiter in a club – he recognised me and started crying and hugged me and told me that they couldn’t even pay their condolences to my family. He met me after 18 years, but still recognised me in two seconds. I also met some shopkeepers, the farmer who worked with us. It was like I recognised the playground, but the players had changed. For me, Kashmir will be back to normal if those who’ve left the Valley can come back. Today, Kashmir is like a bed of flowers that has only one kind of flower. When the bed of flowers will have all kinds of flowers, it’ll look more colourful. And I want to see Kashmir that way – with many flowers… many cultures. There will be a time when people will not know that what Kashmiri Hindus were all about. And that’s sad.”
Sanjay also took his family during the shoot. “My wife was a great support, always next to me. I told her, ‘I don’t expect you to I understand everything, all I need is a patient ear,’” he says.