Bollywood actor Amit Sadh, who is in Dubai this month for an intense physical training workshop ahead of his next project, has a bone to pick about the way the police is represented in Indian films.
“In India, we don’t tell good cop stories. Every police officer is either fat, bald, abusive, corrupt or cheekily corrupt if it’s a big star… It’s about time that we tell stories that fill you with pride,” said Sadh in an exclusive interview with Gulf News.
His standout role as a no-nonsense, principled cop in the hit web series ‘Breathe (1 & 2)’ and in ‘Avrodh: The Siege Within’ were some rare exceptions, believes Sadh.
“I was talking to a few youngsters a couple of months ago and I remember them telling me that they don’t know what war heroes are or what do special forces stand for … Our 10 PARA (SF) has some of the best trained guerrilla commandos of the world, but all they know is about American war heroes or army of the movies that have made,” said Sadh.
He believes that Hollywood films take immense pride in showcasing the valour of their forces.
“In our Indian films, we make army films that rarely represent them well … And that’s why I am so proud of ‘Zidd’,” said Sadh.
‘Zidd’ is Sadh’s upcoming biopic web series on Zee5, which chronicles the fierce life of Special Force Officer Major Deep Singh, who is left paralysed from the waist down after fighting the Kargil war. But his never-say-never spirit shows him springing back to life, beating all odds.
“‘Zidd’ is a story of a man’s perseverance and his zidd [stubbornness] to win, be it the war on ground or the one inside his head … The Chief of Army and our para forces will be so proud of ‘Zidd’ because many a times after they watch a film on army, they wonder what kind of stuff the movie has dug up about them … My brother is an IAS officer and I know they work 24/7. He took a 70 per cent pay cut, his wife took a 50 per cent pay cut … I want to show the great side of cops. In India, we don’t have stories of great men in uniform and I want to be a torch bearer or a catalyst to such films... Deep Singh’s story is just one of the many brave tales of resurrection and grit,” Sadh says.
Speaking of resurrection, Sadh — raised in Lucknow — wasn’t born to a Bollywood dynasty and has served his time before commanding his own fan following. The actor burst into the Bollywood scene with Sushant Singh Rajput and Rajkummar Rao’s friendship drama ‘Kai Po Che’ in 2013.
“Bollywood doesn’t know what to do with a lot of people … I hope we migrate from thinking of Bollywood as the ultimate end and think of it as an Indian film industry … What’s Bollywood really?” asks Sadh. He doesn’t wait for a reply.
“Bollywood is just a bunch of people living in a city thinking that they are running the show. I have no problem with that nor do I want to offend or take panga [fight] with any one of them … But as a citizen of India, I feel if a young actor want to carve his way forward and leave a pathway/residue, then the Indian film industry is the way forward, not Bollywood. In Bollywood we have no torchbearers, but just gatekeepers,” points out Sadh. According to the actor, his potential has been only been tapped one per cent and the remaining is yet to be explored.
“But honestly, I am very content this year … I am happy for all that love I am getting from my fans and well-wishers. It’s overwhelming and they give me strength to go on… There was a huge phase in my life when I had to deal with a lot of disappointment about this industry not giving me more work or not giving me more challenging roles,” he says.
I am happy for all that love I am getting from my fans and well-wishers. It’s overwhelming and they give me strength to go on.
The actor reveals that he had to cope with being sidelined for several projects.
“I do big parts in a film, but when the marketing happens they make my part small … In Indian entertainment, it’s the marketing team who decides which talent is big or small … So I learnt the art of making every character special rather than worrying whether it was considered big or small.”
Despite working in compelling films and web shows, Sadh believes that he has worked for every bit of recognition and popularity that he enjoys.
“Honestly, I have struggled too much in the last 14 years. But in a way it was healing for me because I learnt that no part is big or small. My biggest kick in life is when I am allowed to be engaged with my characters. I have a very boring personality in real life.”
According to him, the last few months spent filming for his seven-episode series ‘Zidd’, out on December 22, in the cold and harsh conditions in Manali was the high point of 2020.
“I don’t know anything in life other than creating characters … My roles and the characters that I play give me a reason to wake up every morning. It’s the biggest stimulant of my life and that catalyst of my life … Living and going deep into my characters is my biggest play now. For ‘Zidd’ I was on a perennial high for three months.”
He appreciates this phase in life — where work is frequent and regular — as his biggest blessing.
“After ‘Kai Po Che’ released, I had no work for one year. Then ‘Gold’ happened and then no work for another year. It happened to me again and again. But this time, there’s a flow to my workload. After one project finishes, I have another one lined up. There’s no wait … I am here in it not for the pocket, but the heart,” Sadh says.
He recounts an interview of Brad Pitt and George Clooney where they were talking about roles that they do for the heart and the roles that they do to make money.
“George Clooney said, ‘You do one for the heart and one for the pocket’; and then Brad Pitt goes, ‘It’s all for the heart’. I am on Brad Pitt’s side,” he says.
The actor, 41, claims he will forego truckloads of money for a string of good roles.
“Listen, I am a friendly Labrador with a face of a Rottweiler,” Sadh claims. “But my biggest motto as an actor is that I am a glorious misfit because if you want to be a great artist, you have to be a misfit.”