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Actor Jim Sarbh, who has receiving positive reviews for his portrayal of Alauddin Khilji’s slave-general in Padmaavat, says working with a nuanced director like Sanjay Leela Bhansali gave him an opportunity to try and be as good as the grand and beautiful frame.

A theatre actor and a director himself, Sarbh, who has worked in films such as Neerja and A Death in the Gunj, and performed live in several plays including Kalki Koechlin’s The Living Room and Rajat Kapoor’s What is Done, is Done, says it’s always an empowering experience to work with directors who are passionate about work.

“In Padmaavat, you are pushed to be as good as the frame, to have a presence that lives up to the grand, operatic, intricate, beautiful frame that you inhabit. I love trying to rise to that. I heard that Sanjay Leela Bhansali has an eye for detail, and it shows in his work, but seeing it first hand is a powerful experience,” said Sarbh.

“I feel so grateful to have worked with someone who so deeply cares about his film, about every single element in his frame. For me, that is the most important thing, everything else falls by the wayside. If I see that everything the director does is motivated by trying to achieve the best, I can accept anything.

“I can try to do anything you want. I am immediately, passionately, on your team,” he added.

Besides Padmaavat, Sarbh will also be seen in Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s Jonaki, a Bengali film, where he will play the role of a lover of an 80-year-old woman, who goes into coma and recounts her time with him in her younger days.

On playing two roles which are “diametrically different”, Sarbh said even the genres are poles apart. However, he said the common factor is two passionate filmmakers.

Jonaki is a dreamscape: it’s slow, it’s not restricted to what the actor brings. Padmaavat is an operatic, period, blockbuster. What I liked about both of these filmmakers is that they care deeply about the frame,” said Sarbh.

Drawing a variance, the 30-year-old said that in Padmaavat, he was constantly striving to make his performance more complicated.

“What layers can I add, what subtext can I bring to life. Whereas in Jonaki, I was constantly trying to strip away and make things simpler.

“In Jonaki, it isn’t about the individual actor. The actor is as important as the wall, or the water flowing down the wall, or a shadow. That kind of acting is also fascinating to me, not to be invisible necessarily, but to be in perfect synchronicity with the environment.

“It isn’t as pleasurable to my ego, but it is interesting to try to blend into a mood, be a part of a painting, rather than standing out,” he said.