Though you have been a part of Hindi films since almost 20 years, would you agree that OTT has given you more recognition?
Yes, I have been working in the film industry for the last two decades and I did theatre for a decade before entering films. So, theatre and films both gave me recognition and ofcourse OTT is given. But, there is difference in the degree of recognition these platforms gave me. Before coming to NSD, I had already got recognition. Then I got little recognition after doing Monsoon Wedding, then post Dev D I got more recognition. It continued with Black Friday and BA Pass. So, people were already talking about my work. When I got work on OTT and entered household, all my previous work amalgamated together in one. People felt that they always recognised me but now is the time to celebrate my craft. So, my current recognition wouldn’t have been of much significant had my previous work not been liked. But I am very happy and grateful to be getting good work, people are appreciating my craft. However, it only matters more when people look at my cumulative work of 30 years.
Have web shows changed the game for you in your career?
Of course. In today’s time web shows like Criminal Justice, Undekhi, series have got so appreciated that it re-established me as a good, versatile actor in the industry. I have also tried to prove that I cannot be typecast. The game got changed because people are being able to see me in different characters and that is how I want to continue working.
Have you seen any change in the way content is created on OTT, post the lockdown?
I did Gone Game, which is one of a kind series . It was shot keeping lockdown in mind with people dealing with anxiety, social distancing and then an incident happens. One has to work, create content and everyone needs work, so, keeping that in mind Gone Game was made. Covid world is the new normal with all precautions. Ofcourse, it will bring some difference in content, appearances, designs and many things. However, in terms of genre, everything will be accepted more.
Have you been offered more substantial roles on OTT?
On OTT, I have got only substantial roles – be it Criminal Justice or Undekhi. In Undekhi, I have a positive character. At the same time, in Criminal Justice, I am nothing less than a demon. When I come on screen, people think something bad will happen. When you can perform an important role well, then it gives your creative satisfaction. If I have done a role and people love it, it gives me creative satisfaction. In that way you can be happy, otherwise you keep craving for more.
Do producers and directors opt for popular film actors than talented character actors? Is a hierarchy among actors ?
Hierarchy exists in every industry. Treating people based on their job and position is there in every industry. A lot of times HODs have a different way of being treated, sometimes different actors have different spotboys. I have seen actors travelling with their own entourage of make up guy, PR, digital marketing and whole lot of people. This hierarchy exists and will always do. Sometimes, an exception, some people try to change that. Like for instance, during Mangal Pandey, everyone used to sit and eat together. This is a very personal choice and if a certain company wants to change that, then they do it. Like in international films, there is also hierarchy but it might not be as blunt. Like for instance, There was a film of mine called Soul of Sand. It was well received at film festivals but when we had to release it in India, it was tough because I was the hero. On the other hand, OTT is that it is a content driven industry and not a star driven industry. Now, talent is given priority but there are chances that this platform too might get corrupted in future. Having said that, there have always been people in the industry who have brought a change with their different thought processes. The only thing is that now people have started watching things on OTT in the comfort of their homes. So, there will be a certain kind of change for sure.