“I hope I’ve taken the right turn this time too”, says the excited Shreyas Talpade sitting somewhere in Versova in the office of his PR manager who are promoting his next release. He looks barely half of his thirty three years age. But behind those eyes and cheeky demeanour lies a man who has been “living it large” for the past few years with back to back successful films ever since he touched Om Shanti Om. In that time, he’s also won a good few nominations for his diverse roles, seen with his wife at red carpet events and premiÃ¨res, and starred in a string of hit films. In town to promote his latest film, Aage Se Right, it’s a subdued Shreyas Talpade who sits down to talk to UK’s Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama‘s London correspondent Devansh Patel. Most actors in Bollywood just take the biggest parts they can as soon as those opportunities are given to them, but Talpade has always been choosier, looking for interesting parts and directors’ more than “star” roles. I guess in terms of picking jobs, his philosophy hasn’t changed. What’s more, every morning there are more than a dozen script offers on his breakfast table. So in terms of any success that Shreyas has had in previous days, months and years, today he feels most secure. Right then, shall we?
Do you think production houses are now being set up especially to cater the small budget unconventional cinema?
If I could use that term, I’d say, “They’ve got some b***s”. If you look at some of the small budget, mediocre and unconventional cinema like Welcome to Sajjanpur, Dev D, Gulaal and Aage Se Right being churned out, you need serious guts to get convinced about a particular subject, believe in it and then just go all out to promote it in the best possible manner. Production Houses today are trying to nurture that kind of cinema.
Were you convinced about Aage Se Right before you signed it?
(Laughs) When I read the first draft, it was too lengthy. I called up my producers and told them that I won’t be able to do this film. The script was too scattered. Whatever little experience I’ve got about how the directors would narrate their story is that they aren’t welcome for the changes to be made after the actor declines the first draft. Bearing some of those experiences in mind, I said no to UTV. But the producers’ conviction is all what took me to re-look at the script because they will not take ‘No’ for an answer. Before the second draft, my director Indrajit showed me the whole travel of the gun and from there on our mad chase to bring back the gun began.
When I read the first draft, it was too lengthy. I called up my producers and told them that I won’t be able to do this film
Do you think cinema like Aage Se Right questions the intelligence of the audiences to some extent? I mean, Kaminey did the same.
Considering that you’re a writer yourself, writers are the most important part of a filmmaking process. There are those who get inspired by some kind of cinema and write and there are others who want to think and write. In terms of dialogues and all, you need to be contemporary in today’s time. Same with the writing. You can go over board and question the intelligence of your audience bearing in mind that it doesn’t divert their attention from watching the film. Today, the multiplex audience is exposed to world cinema as well. So they do understand the sensibilities of a particular film.
You respect your gun more or your profession in the film?
(Laughs) Yes, that’s why the Hanuman picture. It’s the gun. I play a police officer called Waghmare who comes from a middle class Maharashtrian family. He is a very protected and a pampered child who doesn’t want to be in the police force. His father used to be a police officer but is no more. So his mother is the only one who has been doing everything for him. The trouble is that she wants her son to join the police force. Every mother wishes her son to be in good health when he joins such a profession and wants her son to chant the Hanuman Chalisa. That’s why the Hanuman sticker on the gun for my protection and the gun in turn will protect everyone too.
How different is a comic performance you do in Golmaal Returns to that of Aage Se Right?
Not too much. Aage Se Right is a diverse film but the comic element rests on you and it also depends on the director’s sensibilities. Thankfully, I’ve been very fortunate to work with directors like Nagesh, Shyam Benegal to David Dhawan to Indrajit. So I just try and follow their sensibilities and their school of filmmaking. They also brief me when to go over the top, when they want to bring in the realism, etc. Considering the mood of the film, you can push the envelope. Indrajit has a very peculiar sense of humour. He treats any kind of nonsense as funny. Aage Se Right falls under the nonsense category (laughs).
Aage Se Right falls under the nonsense category
What unpredictability does an actor like Mahie Gill bring along?
Mahie is superb. She still has her honesty and unpredictability intact (laughs). She is very spontaneous and sincere. I really felt that kind of honesty was required. She has no ‘nakhras’ and didn’t throw any tantrums on the sets. She is a pure punjabi ‘kudi’. She has this sweet punjabi accent in which she talks. She told me in a scene before we were to fall on a hay stack, ‘Tu mujhe sambhall lega na, mera vazan bahut hain.’ She goes with the flow.
All the films you touch turn to gold. Does Shreyas Talpade have a Midas touch?
(Laughs) I wish. Touchwood. My last film Paying Guest did pretty decent considering that it was marketed horribly wrong. I think the producers recovered their money and that makes me happy. Personally, God has been really kind to me so far. I try to put in my best effort in the film I do. Somewhere people are liking it and as long as they like me, I love them
Any sort of bizarre chases in real life?
Chasing my dream has been quite bizarre. My journey in real life is like a complete masala film’s journey in the reel life. There were times when things went really great for me and times when the phase was bad. Such things keep happening in my life and the chase gets a bit wild sometime. But it’s fine as long as I’m focused.