Kundali Bhagya fame actor and a popular name on TV, Sanjay Gagnani gets candid about his love, life and work
What drew you to the film industry?
Seeing how my art made everyone happy and left a smile on people’s faces was the primary motivational force. I wasn’t very great at academics but always loved to participate in theatre and extracurricular activities. I’d choreograph plays and take part in music competitions all the time. Which made my family, friends and me very happy. Entertaining people was my calling so I knew from very early on that I wanted to be in the film industry.
Going into the entertainment industry, did you always know you wanted to be an actor? How did your family react to this career path?
In school and college, I wasn’t exactly sure which medium would be the right fit for me as an entertainer, because I was interested in music and dancing too. At that time I used to act in college projects during my post-grad and my peers used to appreciate me a lot. The more I worked, and the appreciation I got made it clear that acting was what I had to pursue. My family, touchwood, has been the most supportive from day one. After college, they wanted me to get an MBA but I wanted to do something more relevant to the field I’ll eventually work in. I had my heart set on a Mass Media course and my parents didn’t even think twice to send me to Bombay and let me pursue that. I’m very grateful for them, and in many ways those years helped me build the foundation of my career. I still remember how I used to bunk college lectures to go for auditions.
What’s your favourite childhood memory?
I can’t possibly single out one memory... they’re all so dear to my heart. I feel very blessed that God has gifted me with a perfect family. Fortunately, I had a poster childhood. To say that I was a spoiled child would be an understatement.
Looking back, who do you cherish working with the most?
I have a huge crush on Kareena Kapoor Khan! Ever since I was a child, I’ve been a fan of hers and have always admired her. So when I got a chance to share screen space with her in Madhur Bhandarkar’s Heroine, I was thrilled and honoured. It was an unreal experience, a real dream come true and something I’ll cherish all my life.
If you could change something about the film industry, what would it be?
I feel filmmakers should consider previous work experience before hiring anyone for a project. A lot of professionals and individuals in our business don’t have any sort of formal training before they join their respective departments. I understand that on-ground training is the most important, but educational training is vital. Otherwise it gets challenging for the people they’re working with.
Looking back, which project of yours has been the most challenging?
All projects have been personally been challenging for me. I learn something new and evolve with every project. If a given project isn’t demanding, it means I’m not growing alongside. That being said, Kundali Bhagya, which I have been a part of for almost half a decade, has been the most challenging. I was asked to make a cameo appearance on the show for two months almost 5 years ago. It has transformed into this massive project now. Through the 5 seasons, and 1300 episodes, the makers have encouraged me to do my best and it has been a journey that I cherish.
You recently got married. How has life changed for you post-marriage?
My life has changed completely but also not changed at all if that makes sense. My wife and I had dated a long time before tying the knot, so our equation has pretty much remained the same. But otherwise, I’ve become more caring, even more possessive! Professionally, I have to admit, lady luck is real. I’m now offered projects that I couldn’t even dream of getting before marriage. I’m getting more opportunities in my current roles. So even professionally it’s been a blessing. My wife is truly my lucky charm.
Tell us something about one of your upcoming projects.
I have something dropping soon on OTT, but it’s too soon to comment on it. But I have been in talks for a new project that would be amazing for my audience. For my future projects, my only goal is to be a part of a lot more. Do a lot of reality shows, entertain people worldwide, to be seen on different platforms, irrespective of whether it’s OTT or films. I just want to deliver content-driven projects that create a space in people’s hearts.
What’s your relationship like with fashion?
I’m really moody with my fashion. Sometimes I want to go overboard but most days I want to keep my looks low-key and understated. It’s just a reflection of my mood. Barring award shows, I’m pretty chill about my style and I always value comfort first. You can’t please everyone so I believe you should wear what you feel comfortable, confident and happy in.
A film/show everyone should see: I’m currently enjoying She on Netflix. I’m a huge fan of Imtiaz Ali sir and that’s his project. The storyline is also very gripping and intriguing. Apart from that, my all-time favourite is Jab We Met
Someone you look up to for fashion cues: Shahid Kapoor, hands down
Actors you’d like to work with: Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan
Your go-to cheat/comfort meal: It has to be either butter chicken with roomali roti or rajma rice
Your favourite book: The only thing I love to read is scripts
Best travel memory: Gili Islands in Indonesia are just magical. Away from traffic, city and pollution. That place is a piece of heaven
The best advice you ever received: I read this somewhere and I’m not entirely sure who said it but it’s stayed with me — ”To be a good actor, you need to be a good human being first”