'Films give wider recognition to actors'

'Films give wider recognition to actors'

Cinema scope

He played Farhan Akhtar’s comic friend in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, in which he can also be seen dancing to the song Havan Karenge, but actor Sumit Gulati says it was only after his role as Kanhaiya in filmmaker Meghna Gulzar’s Talvar that he started being recognised as a serious and versatile actor.

“Bhaag Milkha Bhaag was my first project, and I had to play a lean boy with a shrill voice. It was a fun role, but after that people assumed that I could only do comedy. But then Talvar came along and things changed. It was only after people saw me as
Kanhaiya that I started getting calls for serious roles,” Gulati, who will soon be seen in a theatrical production titled Delhi-Ciously Chekhov, tells Metrolife.

A self-confessed movie buff, Gulati says the acting bug bit him while he was in school, and how when watching movies he used to think, “it feels amazing watching these actors on screen, how much more fun it would be to do the same”.

“But it was years later that I gave my first ever audition, which was for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. I was rehearsing for Jhumroo (a stage musical at Kingdom of Dreams) when a friend informed me about the auditions and asked me to send a few of my pictures. I got a response, auditioned for three roles and finally bagged the one in which you see me in the movie,” he says.

From there on, there has been no looking back for him as he went on to act in movies like Phantom, Titli and Aligarh, and has worked with artistes like Saif Ali Khan and Manoj Bajpai. On being asked if he learnt something from such established actors, he instantly says, “a lot.”

“But it is not only from the established names; I have also worked with lesser-known actors and have picked up something from each one of them. I have also learnt what is not to be done. I have been very lucky to have got the opportunity to work with such humble and helpful actors,” he adds.

Talking about his role in director Raj Upadhyay’s play, which brings together three short stories by playwright Anton Chekhov — The Arrangement, The Surgery and Seduction — Gulati says he plays the role of Paresh, a loving husband.

“I feature in Seduction; and despite being extremely loving and sweet, my character is also gullible. So much so that a friend of mine takes advantage of me and tries to woo my wife, but I am just not able to make out,” he says.

But with such successful movies in his kitty, why does he opt to act on stage? “Acting on stage, in front of a live audience, feels absolutely different. The response — whether appreciation or criticism — is instant, unlike in movies. However, while I enjoy acting on both mediums, the reach of films cannot be ignored.

Also, it is films which give wider recognition to actors, who are hungry for appreciation. People might not recognise a theatre actor, but if the same actor features in a movie – he suddenly becomes identifiable on stage,” says the artiste.
Delhi-Ciously Chekhov, produced by Thespian Theatre Company, will be staged at Epicentre at Apparel House, Sector 44, Gurgaon, on
April 30.

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