“I let the camera see my soul”

Actor Amit Sadh gets candid

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Amit Sadh is from that rare breed of trained young actors that stays clear of high drama. He came onto the scene like a breath of fresh air, a refreshing change from the entertainment scenario of special effects, melodrama and pancake-thick make-up. He debuted on television, doing both serials and reality shows, but came to be noticed after his high impact, yet hallmarked subtle performances in Kai Po Che (2013), Sultan, Naam Hai Akira (both 2016), and Sarkar 3 (2017). He has tasted success and failure, almost in equal measure, does not have a godfather in the film and television industry, and knows that his best is yet to come. Refreshing on screen and candid off it. He tells THE MAN how he lets the script take over once he hears ‘lights, camera, action!’

It has been a long, tough professional journey that I’m sure took a lot of blood and sweat. Now, years later, do you feel that you invested your time well?

It has been a long tough journey, but nothing comes easy. I think the key is to believe in yourself, even when no one else does. Do what you feel is right, even if it sounds crazy, and your life becomes a collective of juxtaposition(s), because that’s where you’ll find serendipity. And in moments of serendipity you’ll find the answers that you’ve been looking for. I wanted to be a movie actor and everyone told me that I was crazy and that I didn’t have the ‘right look’ for movies. So, I went to New York, with the little money that I had at the time, to study acting. People told me that I was crazy, that I wouldn’t survive. It was the best decision I’ve made. I learnt so much about myself and my craft. I met some of the most incredible people—teachers and friends. It was a very important period of my life, and it has made me who I am today. I am grateful.

To fake ‘slumming it out’ is a bit like masturbating, you trick your mind so it feels like you’re actually ‘doing’ it, but we all know you’re not.

How did those years shape you to be the artist that you are now?

I learnt a lot about myself, I thought by going to acting school, I’m going to learn to play different characters; in fact, it taught me more about myself. This ultimately has allowed me to be able to lend the right parts of myself to the character I am playing. Also, the experiences I gained in those years are beautiful wells of emotional and sensory memory for me to draw upon when acting. And, the connections I made there—I met some of the most interesting, talented friends, with whom I am still in contact. I remember we used to promise one another, ‘whoever makes it first is going to help the rest of the crew out.’ Ha ha! I’ve sent the elevator back down and it’s on its way up with a few friends of mine… watch this space.

The showbiz industry, in India especially, has always been a cesspool of nepotism. How does one survive?

Focus on yourself. Work so hard that it will be hard for them not to notice you. We have to work 10 times harder than relatives of actors/directors, etc., I know it’s a massive shame, but to all those who are in the same boat as me, we have to work real hard, but it will all be worth it.

By the way, this happens in all industries, I hate it when the person isn’t right for the job, but they get it based on their bloodline; it makes my blood boil. It’s a bit like how America is run at the moment—Trump giving his family important jobs just because they’re his family. All those hardships we go through are indispensable pieces of emotional and sensory memory, which will bring out powerful performances. We are so lucky to have experienced these; people who were born into the industry haven’t had to struggle, they’re begging for experiences like these. So much so that they try to ‘slum it out’ by pretending to ‘struggle’. I’ve seen so many all over the world. I studied with some kids of some ‘important’ people, and some that I have met in this industry, they try to act ‘poor’, dress ‘poor’, live ‘poor’ etc so they can experience the ‘struggle’.

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A bit like hipsters, they wear ripped clothes, baggy clothes, dirty looking clothes. Basically like those who are struggling. But they have a trust fund and a fall back job as a leading actor in their uncle’s new movie. To fake ‘slum it out’ is a bit like masturbating, you trick your mind so it feels like you’re actually ‘doing’ it, but we all know you’re not.

How does a ‘natural’ actor like you continue practising the restrained method of acting in an industry that thrives on high drama?

I have a very honest and straightforward way of approaching roles. I believe that we are going through a change in the audience’s taste. What happened to America in the Brando/Strasberg/Monroe era, is happening in India today. People have never seen subtle (feel more, do less kind) acting until recently, they’ve only known the ‘high drama’ kind of acting, so they don’t know any better. Now the more people we show proper acting to and touch them, the more will go off the ‘high drama’ kind of acting. The difference between my acting and the other ‘acting’ you’re talking about is that I let the camera see my soul, whereas most actors’ are just showing the camera their faces.

Who is your inspiration as an actor?

Marlon Brando, he was just so real and pure. He lived the part rather than just act. On and off screen he was an inspirational human being, he stood up for people who didn’t have much of a voice and he used his fame for a great cause. If I can do even 1 per cent of what he did, I’d die a very happy man. And Aamir Khan sir, I am ‘high’ on him, just watching him being this incredible actor, contributing to cinema and giving back so much.

I love love love Radhika Apte, and envy her talent and Raju (I call him that) the maestro ... Rajkummar Rao. He is just simply great.

How do you see the entertainment industry evolving, given that we now have the choice between web series, TV, radio, cinema and live theatre?

As an actor, I just want to act and be part of projects that touch me and that will touch audiences. Stories that help humanity become better by understanding one another and to become more united, that’s all I am concerned about.

What are your views on the objectification of actors, both men and women? Does a hot-bod add to the ‘talent’?

No, a hot bod definitely doesn’t equate to talent. The funny thing is not many real people have eight-pack abs, like some actors, including myself. Now I didn’t mean that in a big-headed way. But as actors we put on a proper body, go through so much to look this great on TV. Personally, I only do it when the character requires it. There are some actors who play ‘regular’ people and they have an eight-pack for no reason other than to be able to show off their bodies. It’s not doing the character justice, and doesn’t really represent society well. On the plus side, I guess it does inspire people to work out and get ripped.

Any films/TV shows/ commercials that you really wish you were part of?

Friends! Seeing as I missed that boat, if we could make a series of our student apartment in New York, it would definitely be a hit show.

So, what are your next projects?

I’m currently working on Gold, a movie about India winning gold at the 1948 Olympics, and Breathe, which is a TV series for Amazon. I am also working on a new show called Never Settle, which is about my friends and I, on a journey of self discovery. It will follow us as we ride around India on Triumphs, as we find the answers to life’s important questions.

What are your other interests, how do you make time for them?

I enjoy chilling with my dogs, training, travelling/seeing new places and experiencing new cultures and people, hanging with friends, and I read a lot. I try picking movies that suit my hobbies, which makes it easier to find time.

Would you like to share any tips or advice for the next gen of young professionals who may want to follow in your footsteps?

Go to drama school, work hard and put yourselves in situations which will encourage the chance of you ‘being lucky’. There’s a host of things you can do and there are many ways to Rome, but always do what makes you happy first. Be a nice person. Be genuine. Focus on your art and on becoming a better person. That’s what sells, not being a ‘bad boy’ or whatever the female equivalent is. And always ask for help if you need it. Talk to one another. I highly recommend listening to ‘everybody’s free’ by Baz Luhrmann.

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