Shreyas Talpade is one of the few actors in the Hindi film industry who has found success while playing both intense as well as comic characters. After impressing everyone with his role of a deaf and mute cricketer in Nagesh Kukunoor’s 2005 coming-of-age sports drama Iqbal, Talpade has gone on to star in films like Dor, Om Shanti Om, Welcome to Sajjanpur, Golmaal Returns, Golmaal 3, Housefull 2, Great Grand Masti, Poster Boys, and Golmaal Again, among others. In this interview, he talks about his latest film Setters, his acting method, and how his failures have made him more responsible in terms of script selection:
Tell us about your role in Setters and your association with the project.
The film is basically based on employment and the education mafia. They are people called setters who essentially organise these paperleaks and settings through the use of hi-tech gadgets. I play a setter who is the brain behind this cheating racket. Aftab Shivdasani plays a cop. The film is basically a thriller featuring a cat-and-mouse game of sorts involving both our characters.
When I heard the story for the first time, I was quite blown by it. I actually commended the director Ashwini Chaudhary and writer Siraj Ahmed for putting together such an interesting concept. It was then that I learnt that it’s all based on true events. I used to think that these paperleaks about which we read in the newspapers happen at a very local level. I never knew that there is a huge mafia that runs in an organised way to make it work. The kind of discipline and planning with which they do it is unfortunately outstanding.
The subject of Setters is quite similar to ‘Why Cheat India’. What is it that makes ‘Setters’ different?
To be honest I haven’t seen Why Cheat India but Ashwini Ji has seen it and he strongly believes that despite the obvious similarities,Setters is a very different film. Except for the underlying subject, the stories in the larger context are completely different. While Why Cheat India revolves around an individual, our film takes a more procedural approach to the entire cheating racket.
As an actor, director, producer, you don different hats. How do you strike a balance between these roles?
I think it is all about the hunger that you have. Also, itis about evolving. After you have done enough films, there comes a time when you want to be a part of the story in a bigger way. You want to be involved in every aspect of filmmaking. Yes, after a point, it becomes a bit difficult to balance all three but I think if you are really passionate about a particular thing, then you tend to find the time for it. For example, there was a time when we produced our first Marathi film in association with Mukta Arts. So, my wife helped me a lot on that but when we did our independent production, I made it a point to be there on the sets 24/7.
It required me to take time out of my acting shoots. Going forward, that’s how I would like to get involved with the projects. More so, because I want to enjoy my work; it is not about going onshoot every day. I might end up shooting only 50 days in a year but those 50 days have to be the best days of my life.
You have been successful playing intense characters as well as comic ones. What do you attribute this to?
Well, to tell you the truth, I believe I am pretty much in love with my work. In fact, when I first started dating my wife, I told her that my first love would always be my work. I have been really fortunate that she has accepted that and has always supported me. Coming from a theatre background,I have been taught to think of at least three different ways of doing a shot. It has really helped me grow as an actor. When I accept a particular character,that’s I how I do my homework. I keep asking my director, co-actors and friends. I can’t take complete credit for it. There are a lot of people who have helped me in this journey. First and foremost the credit goes to my directors, whether Nagesh Kukunoor, Rohit Shetty, Shyam Benegal or Farah Khan,among others. All of them have immensely added a lot of value to my characters.On my part as an actor, I think I have shown them willingness to try new things. So, they have gone out of their way to help me understand these characters better.
As an actor, do you get to pick between serious roles and comic ones?
Actually, there are times when it can get really frustrating for you as an actor. You want to do a serious part but the offers that are coming your way are all for comic roles. But that is fine. After having spent quite some time in the industry, you come to a stage where you realise that not every day you can get everything that you want. So it is about making the best of what comes your way. But you should be ready when something that you have been looking for finally comes your way. The most important thing that you must do in order to score a century is to stay on the pitch.
What are your upcoming projects?
I am currently looking at the scripts. People are expecting me to be a little more responsible in terms of my script selection. There have been times in between when a couple of my films didn’t do well and people were a little disappointed. So right now, I am taking things a little easy right now.