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Exclusive! Sanjay Suri: I lost my youth by the time people understood that I worked in coming-of-age films

Sanjay Suri plays one of the lead antagonists in Sony LIV's upcoming show, Avrodh 2.

  • Shaheen Irani

Last Updated: 11.39 AM, Jun 23, 2022

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Exclusive! Sanjay Suri: I lost my youth by the time people understood that I worked in coming-of-age films
Sanjay Suri (Instagram).

Sanjay Suri, best remembered for his role in Onir’s My Brother Nikhil, is coming back, this time on OTT. The actor will be seen in Sony LIV show Avrodh 2. He plays an antagonist on the show, which Sanjay promises isn’t stereotypical. While talking to OTTplay, Sanjay shared about his experience working on coming-of-age projects, his Avrodh 2 character, the prep that went into it and why the character isn’t stereotypical.

Excerpts from the interview…

From Dil Vil Pyaar Vyaar and Jhankar Beats to My Brother Nikhil, you somewhere understood the nerve of the viewers and how the topic will capture people's interest if not immediately then eventually. So, tell me, what is it usually that you look for, when picking a role?

I lost my youth by the time people understood that I worked in coming-of-age films. They say a wise man is someone who sows the seed. At the same time, he knows he won't sit in the shade of the tree (laughs).

When and how did Avrodh 2 happen to you?

Avrodh came as a welcomed change for me. Samar Khan approached me for this role - the role of an antagonist. It came to me at a time when I was looking to do something genuinely different and what I haven't done in a long time. It was a refreshing part to play. He suggested my name and so, it was a yes from the word go.

What made you say yes to this project?

I believed I would have fun playing this character because he's a part of the global terror funding circle. He's a militant but more of a radicalized, West-bred militant - ex-banker and ex-professor. So, he has the brains but is quite quirky too.

Would you say it took more mental preparation with this character? I'm sure you will first need to understand how this person functions to really get into the nerve of the character. Explain.

When I read the script and met Raj, we discussed the scenes and the character's background in detail. I understood what is he doing and why. The why was very important. After understanding that, all the questions were solved.

I belong to the North, so I knew what body language and mannerisms were needed for the character. The only thing is, this guy isn't stereotypical. He's Western educated. Even in real life, a lot of Pakistan people are sent to London and Europe for studies. He also has that global exposure, which is why he wants to go beyond the typical way of terrorizing and breaking another country.

The preparation was more in discussions. Once I got the discussions and thought of how the character is going to be in the series, the preparation was also smooth. You get the gist. I didn't have to go and live with someone to understand how he behaved (laughs).

Can you just give me an example of the kind of acting you prefer? Are you the spontaneous kind or who likes to stick to your lines? Do you believe in adding emotions in facial and body languages additionally? What is your process like generally and if different for Avrodh 2, what was that like?

The process changes with experience. Sometimes, when you do the same thing, it becomes stale. So, you try something else. Once I understand what my character demands, then the process is my feeling towards the scene. Between action and cut, I keep these things in mind and feel them.

I am more spontaneous. I'm not a method actor but acting is in my sub-conscious. How you never forget to swim or ride a bike once you learn that, it's the same with acting for me. Some things are in my sub-conscious and the other things, I keep in mind to bring more depth to the character.

With emotions, you pretty much play with the same emotions. There could be a few trigger points but sometimes, you need to stay away from them. For example, I'm from Kashmir and am playing a militant who is trying to destroy the country. That's the actor in me. I have to forget about my personal experience and ideology when I'm acting. I have to think from the other parts. You have to get out of a zone to get into another zone and then feel it. It's a rollercoaster. Once you feel it, it will come.

Your character appears to be someone people should watch out for. What is the one thing you would say that people should keep an eye on?

We tend to typecast an antagonist - a militant is supposed to look and behave a certain way. They expect to see an evil laughter and killing people ruthlessly.

The face of terror has changed. There's a think tank - strategists, executioners and front-line soldiers who fight on ground. It's pretty much structured how an army would be structured.

The expectations would be that he's planning something, has put his pawns in the right place and there's a game of chess going on. You need to figure out who gets the queen.

Have you seen the previous show? How similar or different is it, would you say?

Personally, I don't like references. The stories are different so I didn't happen to watch the original show. The treatment of both the shows are also different. I knew Raj's work. I felt it is a sensible series which was very well liked.

I surrendered to Raj Acharya's vision. He would come and stand next to us while directing us, much like an old-school director. I love that. The direction isn't on mic. The journey is very important. It's the goal. I'm not talking about good, bad, ugly but the journey.

Avrodh 2 has a very intelligent screenplay. It will keep you engaged. It has espionage and thrill. You have to watch it with a bit of concentration because if you miss the dot, then you miss the point.

There are two things going on in the series - the usual terrorist attacks like planting bombs but also, attacking the Indian economy through fake currency circulation. When you heard that, did you ever think, how will these two go hand-in-hand? Also, did you have any contribution as to how these two topics bind together?

By the time I came on board, the script was fully ready. There were just some minor changes for the screenplay and how the story is unfolding. I did not participate in that. My only participation was in my scenes where my character is doing something and how it's impacting another. That path was already written. What tonality we take, how much we want to and not want to reveal, those things were being discussed. My engagement was only the world this character belongs to and how he's doing what he's doing. That was important, followed by mannerism and styles he has and how that impacts his performance.

Your upcoming projects?

I've shot for two films. They are in post-production. I'll also be shooting for a web series soon.

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