Sapta Sagaradache Ello Side A and B left Rakshit Shetty feeling like a well inside of him had been cleaned after a dark, painful process, the actor tells Subha J Rao in an interview.
RAKSHIT SHETTY has always said that each of his movies teaches him something. If 777 Charlie, which released in 2023, taught him to acknowledge his emotions, Sapta Sagaradache Ello Side A and B left him feeling like the well inside of him had been cleaned after a dark, painful process. (Both parts of the aching romance are now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.)
“Making the film was a beautiful journey. And, that’s putting it very mildly. It is an experience that cannot be transferred. It was like seeing 40 years of my life with all its warts and goodness. It felt like an attempt to clean the well within me. When you begin, you only see the wrong things, and then you see how you’ve accepted some things, how you’re hard on yourself… I went back to my childhood where someone made fun of me. As a kid, you seemingly take everything lightly, your heart is innocent. But it all settles in. And I realised how that was affecting my present. Once the well was cleaned, I got a better perspective about myself,” says Rakshit whose eyes turned into pools of sadness and heartbreak in the two-part film.
Edited excerpts from an interview.
Within you, many people exist. There’s the private individual, the public actor and the deeply spiritual being. You inhabit a world that’s high on glamour and involves putting yourself out there. How do you manage?
There is a part of me that is very private. That said, I don’t look at what you’ve said as three different things, but three aspects of the same person.
I am cognisant of my responsibility as an actor. I think of a project from a commercial angle too, because if a producer has invested a certain amount in me, I must give my all, including putting myself out there, to ensure that trust is not let down. The idea is to keep making good cinema and not box myself.
Spirituality is something that I am inherently drawn to. I always like to spend time with myself and seek clarity.
At any stage of watching Side B after the movie was over, did you ever think Manu’s actions could be misconstrued by some?
Side B comes from a background where love is more important than anything else. From that perspective, I accepted all that Manu does, until a certain point. For him, love becomes life. I kind of understood where he comes from, because for me, cinema is life. Manu’s karma was pulling Priya out of the rut he pushed her into. I understood that. Only he could pull her out of that space. Would I have done something similar? Probably. In the journey I am on right now, I understand Manu’s perspective on life.
Yes, he can be misconstrued, but I connected to Manu’s intention. That comes from a good place, and he is going through an intense curve — from life to prison to a new life outside, and yet imprisoned in his head.
He barges into that house, which is definitely a mistake, and his distance with her keeps growing, because he realises what he’s done. For me, that was important, that he realises what he’s doing. And people around him don’t really encourage him. I thought that offset any other messaging people might have got.
Did SSE Side B heal you?
Honestly, I enjoyed that pain, because it was not my pain. I did a lot of inward travel, and realised a few things, and I think you saw that pain on screen. I learnt through the course of this movie to see pain that is not yours, experience it, and let it go. It helped me disconnect from that pain once in the caravan.
Many have said this is your career best. But you have a long journey ahead. Were you personally pleasantly surprised by your performance?
I’ll admit it. In a few places, I surprised myself when I watched the film. In a couple of scenes, I felt I took that scene to where it had to go, not further, not lesser.
There are a couple of scenes with Priya and another with Surabhi, where I ask her to sing, and go into a trance. It was in the film for 12 seconds. Hemanth could not call for a cut even at 1.5 minutes. I probably did not understand that process when doing it. Now looking back, I feel those scenes are beautiful, because they were the end result of a journey I had undertaken with the film.
After such an intense role, how did you switch off?
I don’t take too much inside. For me, switching off is the easiest. The only thing is I have to decide if I want to do it. Once I decide, I am done. But, my process is different. I would like to write undisturbed for three hours, but I would like to be involved with the world the rest of the time. I aim to reach a state where I am deeply involved with life, yet take two or three hours off to be on my own.
So, what are you writing now?
I am working on Richard Antony. I kept noting down things I wanted in the film all these days. Now, I turn on the comp, open a document in Times New Roman. The writing is in size 12 font and the headings are at 36.
How did you handle the tears of your fans…
I’d like the audience to reach that stage when they go through those feelings but also know that eventually it is a story. Don’t detach from that feeling, though. Go through it. Revel in that pain and joy. And then realise — it is someone else’s story. That one week of intense emotion will make something of you.
You’ve collaborated twice with Hemanth M Rao. What does he bring out in you?
Eight years ago with Godhi Banna Sadharana Mykattu, and now with SSE, with Hemanth, I am a tool. I submit myself to him. He draws something from me that even I don’t know exists within me.
With each director it is different. With Kiranraj (Charlie), who has travelled with me for many years now, there’s a different process. I end up working mostly with my group of people whom I know and trust. But I always take in new people in every film. The old and the new are important. With that team, I travel to a perfect place in what is for me, a perfect journey.
All images via Facebook/@therakshitshetty