SSR: (Laughs) I did the same in Byomksh Bakshi! but nobody turned up. That’s exactly what I am saying. Let me be very honest, in all the films I have done, nobody has said ‘you have done a bad job’. So after watching the film, mazaa aaya nahi aaya is a different story but you have done what you were supposed to do. I know for a fact that if I am interested, I will slog, not to prove a point but because there is no other way to go.
I have mentioned this in many interviews, that when I was in school, I was asked to be an engineer, I knew that was the only way to go and it was not negotiable. I was allowed to go out and play from 4 pm to 5.30 pm. And when the time came, it felt like just five minutes.
Today, I am living that 4-5.30 pm. I have no idea what date it is, I sleep for just three hours and I work for 12 hours. So whatever films I have done so far, nobody has criticised my performance so far. So I was not concerned about whether I would come across as Dhoni or not, thing was that how much can you penetrate and how much can you sustain and thankfully we did.
BOI: Three years, five movies… what’s the journey been like?
SSR: Now that you put it like that, it doesn’t look very good and it seems like I should have done more films. Actually, make that four and a half, not five, because in PK, I was not there totally. Anyway, I have never stopped working. Some of those films were made while others weren’t.
SSR: No. I think it is now more evident than before that I am an outsider. But I don’t complain. There are many filmmakers who will work with you if you are passionate about your work. If I am passionate about my work, if I am constantly looking for script, I will get hired again and again. So I have no problem with nepotism, being an outsider or an insider, because in the long run, I will get good work.
Of course, when an outsider fails, their failure is magnified and when their film does well, it is talked about in hushed tones. So obviously there’s discrimination. But if you have skills and you’re passionate, you will survive, as Neeraj Pandey told me.
BOI: You have received positive reviews from the critics as well as from the audience. How has the industry reacted to your performance?
SSR: I have received many calls from several people and some are saying it because they just have to say it. But there are some who discussed scenes with me for 20-30 minutes, telling me which scene they liked most. That’s when you know they mean it. So, yes, I got many surprise calls from many people, telling me they really enjoyed my performance. I haven’t received many tweets but, yes, personal calls and messages. Not many endorsements on public platforms.
BOI: After this film, you have received calls from many filmmakers who earlier felt you didn’t suit the roles they had to offer.
SSR: For some reason, I should have been out of business by now because I had done my last film in February last year. With no release in a year and a half, I ought to have been out of the industry. But before Dhoni released, I had five films in hand. Something is definitely working for me.
There are very few instances when a producer doesn’t want to work with me because they don’t have confidence in me. Obviously, they wonder whether or not I am bankable but they never doubt my intent or capabilities. That’s probably why I already have five films in hand.