Sanjay Suri’s debut was the 1999 film Pyar Mein Kabhi Kabhi. While the movie failed to impress at the box office, his role was greatly appreciated. However, Suri truly made his presence known when he signed more seasoned roles where he played a variety characters in movies such as the comedy Jhankaar Beats followed by the historical Pinjar. Then in 2005 My Brother Nikhil released and his portrayal of an AIDS victim who was isolated and shunned by society made critics applaud his performance. The movie was critically acclaimed and Suri found his bearings as an actor. Since then, he has been unstoppable with his last release Bas Ek Pal also receiving great reviews. Comedy or drama, Sanjay Suri brings a sense of reality to all his characters and his next release Sorry Bhai! is no different. Taking a breather from the serious roles, he has opted for a light-hearted comedy, which has an array of interesting actors including Shabana Azmi, Boman Irani, Sharman Joshi and Chitrangda Singh.
BollySpice spoke with Sanjay about Sorry Bhai!, producing and movies in the future.
What led you to be part of the film industry? Did you always want to be an actor?
Now that’s a long story. But to keep it short and precise, I used to be fascinated by movies and how fiction can seem so real on screen. After I joined the advertising world as a model with the intention of getting into the movies, I realized that I not only enjoyed it but also started getting very passionate about my work. So it was more of a “finding my calling” rather than knowing it from childhood.
What is Sorry Bhai! all about in a nutshell?
Sorry Bhai! is about forbidden love – one brother falling in love with another one’s fiancée.
Tell us about your character in the film.
My character’s name is Harsh. Harsh is extremely ambitious and his main focus in life is to be successful. He is also the kind of guy who does not like to face reality. He does not give too much importance to relationships.
Sorry Bhai! is your third film with Onir (My Brother Nikhiland Bas Ek Pal) – why do you think you both gel so well?
I think the key is to have honesty and give each other professional space. I may or may not agree with him but will support him and vice versa. I think our sensibilities get well too.
Sorry Bhai! seems much more light-hearted – quite different from the heavy duty stuff that you and Onir have done before. Was this a conscious decision to step out of the box?
Yes, I think both of us were a bit drained from the first two so decided to do something much lighter and breezy. But once again, it’s a differentiated story told in an entertaining fashion.
You’re also producing this film – is the pressure a lot more on you to ensure the movie does well?
Yes, the pressures are different when one is producing too as compared to just acting. But I enjoy the entire concept to celluloid journey and it’s worth all the pressures. As a producer one looks at everything in its entirety.
The cast and crew is quite interesting – how was the experience working on the film?
When the entire cast and crew is supportive and cooperative, the entire process of film making becomes pure joy. All of them were very professional in working towards the betterment of the film. I feel filmmaking is truly a collaborative effort and nothing better than a great team.
How was it working with Shabana Azmi?
Her perception might be of a serious person but she is great fun to be with and has a fantastic sense of humor. Working with anyone with such talent and experience is always enriching.
How was shooting in Mauritius? Did you get some time out to relax and enjoy the beaches?
No, there was no time to do that. Once in a while I went swimming but shooting on the lovely beaches was relaxing by itself. Mauritius is a great place to shoot and the people are very cooperative and easy going.
In the recent past, you’ve moved away from the usual run of the mill roles, any particular reason?
Well, as an actor one chooses from the choices one is given to chose from. Mostly people bring me serious stuff so one ends up doing that. I am looking at doing something, which I haven’t done before – maybe action or a contemporary comedy.
You’ve done a variety of roles – which was your favorite character to play and why?
Aaah!!! Now that’s a difficult one because I have enjoyed more than one. I would say I enjoyed playing Nikhil in My Brother Nikhil, Som in Shaadi Ka Ladoo, Ramchand in Pinjar, Hari Sadu in Say Salaam India and now a Kashmiri politician in one of my upcoming films. I like to play parts, which demand out of you as an actor. All these parts were not only fun to play but also something, which is not me as a person, so it takes you away from yourself.
For dramatic scenes, how do you get into the mindset of that character?
I think I like to draw from within or sometimes use borrowed experiences of others as a trigger point. One just has to throw oneself into that situation and start receiving from there off.
Acting and producing – will we see you directing anytime soon?
No, I haven’t thought of that. I think it’s a qualified job and I am not qualified enough to direct as of now.
What do you look for in a script? How is what you look for different based on whether you are acting, producing or both?
It needs to be engrossing, mostly if it reads well then it flows well. Also, a director’s vision is important as the same script by two directors can turn out to be completely different. As an actor I decide on the content first followed by the director and then my part in it. As a producer one has to think about the commerce part of it too.
This year more smaller budget movies saw success versus the big budget ones – why do you think that is?
I think over pricing did it. There were no real valuations and perceptions were being sold. The entire game seemed like a financial jugglery rather than honest numbers.
What was your favorite movie this year?
Hope to have a favourite by the end of the year.
Who do you think is the next big thing in Bollywood?
Content is the next big thing.
Do you think the audiences are more accepting of movies based on actual situations instead of the usual candy floss?
No, I feel even candyfloss is fine as long as it’s entertaining and does not challenge your sensibility. At the end of the day the audience should not be taken for granted. Give them good stories and they will watch it without caring of genres.
What is coming up for you in the near future?
I have 5 films coming up. After Sorry Bhai! it will be Nandita Das’s Firaaq, Sikandar by Piyush Jha (shot in Kashmir), Alibaug by Sanjay Gupta, and a super natural thriller Flat by Hemant Madhukar (produced by Anjum Rizwi of A Wednesday). All are diverse from one another in genres and characters.
What do you feel makes Sorry Bhai! a film audiences must see?
A clean, fun and romantic film with an interesting twist will be worth all the time and money spent.
Well, there you have it. Sanjay Suri is one actor to watch out for with his great sense of comic timing and intensity in somber roles, he can pretty much do it all. He has an interesting few films coming up, but we think you will be sorry if you don’t head out to watch Sorry Bhai!! Our sincere good wishes with this actor-producer and we hope Sorry Bhai! is a great success!