M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story is scoring victory at the box office. Apart from Sushant Singh Rajput the film also had a good team who added their own values to it. Soumita Sengupta spoke to actor Rajesh Sharma who plays a crucial role in the film. Without him the film wouldn’t be what it is. Over to him:
On overwhelming response
The response so far is very overwhelming. Everyone is calling and messaging to say how much they loved the film and my character too. Though I have always got good response in the past too but this time it’s more.
Brief from Neeraj Pandey
Neeraj sir called me one day and said he is making a film and wants me in it. I went and met his assistant who briefed me about my part. I had worked with him in Special 26, so the bond was already there. I play – the coach, Banerjee – the man who actually pushed Dhoni to become a cricketer. He wanted me to play the role very softly and in a subtle way, where it should not look like I am enacting someone, it should come naturally. He wanted the character to be a common man.
Meeting the real coach
I only got to meet him on the first day of the shooting when in Ranchi which is where he resides. He is a short-height man, very calm and happy with what he has. There was a positive attitude which he had, and also an inspirational one. Mr. Banerjee is a sports teacher in a school, while Dhoni used to practice football. Mr Banerjee first spotted the talent in him. So when they were looking for a wicket keeper in their team he asked Dhoni to join, but Dhoni mentioned that he wants to become a goalkeeper but it was he who pushed him into cricket. That’s how we got Dhoni in the Indian cricket team. But even today when you see him he is the same teacher who is very grounded.
Prepping on his own
Neeraj sir told me his vision, he is very clear with what he wants. So I followed his vision and added my own experience to the character. There was no such preparation which I did but one thing which I worked on was the language; Ranchi people speak Hindi in a different way so I caught hold of that tone. Since the coach is a Bengali, but has lived in Ranchi he speaks Hindi but somewhere I added the Bengali lines, which come naturally to any Bengali. Those were minor things which I worked on myself.
On Neeraj Pandey
I have worked with many directors. What I like about Neeraj sir is that he will tell you what he wants. He allows his actors to bring their own creativity on screen. In case he doesn’t like it, he will tell you that also. Another good thing about him is that on the first day of shooting, he will spend an hour with you describing what’s in his head rather than every day. While shooting a scene on other days he will not describe things. So on day one itself you get clarity on what the director wants. I think is he is one director who will be in the future make blockbuster films which will have a social message in it. It will change the future of our industry as audiences will demand such films from everyone.
Being an actor
I feel I am blessed to get so many roles; 2015-2016 has been wonderful where I did many films. I believe as an actor it’s my work to act more, and I always say that ‘a script chooses us, we don’t choose a script’. A director sees us in that role, we don’t see ourselves in that role. And as an actor we should not say no to work. Obviously, I too want to do quality films, and I do, I choose the best scripts but sometimes it does happen that a film doesn’t shape up the way every one imagines it to be. Some films work and some don’t.