As his latest film Simmba continues its winning run, bad guy in the film, Sonu Sood, talks to Bhakti Mehta about his journey as Durva Ranade, how he approaches a negative character and his camaraderie with Ranveer Singh and Rohit Shetty during the shoot
The audience and the industry is buzzing with positivity about Simmba.
My phone hasn’t stopped ringing since the first show. People have said that they were waiting for this film and my role has created a huge impact. I had been waiting for a role like this.
What has your journey with this film been like?
I was shooting for a film down South and Rohit (Shetty) told me that we were just four months away from the release because the film was releasing in December. So I was juggling my South shoot with this one and I convinced the director of that movie to divide the time. When it was all sorted and everything fell in place, we started rolling. In no time, we were able to finish it.
We have been told that it was a riot on the set when Rohit Shetty, Ranveer Singh and you were together.
Ranveer and I had a lot in common, be it fitness or love for cinema or exploring and initiating new things on the set, we were all on the same page. I remember when we were shooting in Hyderabad, we used to work out together in Ramoji, talk about how we were going to do certain scenes the next day. On the sets also, we used to be in sync and suddenly there was this magical tinkle happening when we used to roll.
I think it is very important for an actor to get the right co-star to get the right kind of reactions. More than the actions, it is the reactions that make a scene work. I am glad that both Ranveer and I were on our toes to give those right reactions so that the scene looked impactful. And we had a magical eye behind the camera, which was Rohit Shetty’s, always guiding us to stay within our parameters.
It seems you have become the first choice for filmmakers to portray negative characters on screen. What is your take on that?
(Laughs). I think producers and directors would be the best people to answer this. But whenever a character is offered to me, I don’t follow the rule book. Chedi Singh in Dabangg was a very serious role but somehow we got that comic side in him to come out. It became so much more interesting.
In the first narration, Durva Ranade’s character was quite aggressive. But Rohit gave me that liberty to underplay the character so that he was able to overpower people only through his physicality. Otherwise, he is a very calm guy who has seen the world, and when he speaks, his words carry that weightage. Somehow, Rohit and I were on the same page regarding this and that is why Durva looked so convincing on screen.
With so many villainous roles in your career, how do you manage to give each negative character a different personality?
There is no point in doing a film just for the sake of it, landing on the sets and doing the same thing over and over again. It is always an attempt to do something different. Obviously, there will be times when people say we can relate to you doing the same things. But, as actors, we try to stay away from the characters we have done earlier.
With Durva Ranade, the idea was that he should be very powerful so that people on the screen should be scared whether it is Simmba or someone else. Even when those 100 policemen try to stop him, he has to pull them off himself. And it looks convincing because when we were shooting that scene, there were actually 70-80 people pulling me back and I had to fight them by going forward. After the shot, Rohit said it is only Sonu Sood who can pull these 70-80 guys and make it look real.
Is it necessary for you to connect with your character on some level?
Before playing any character, I see him as a normal person. Simply because he is a villain, he does not have to always be angry or shout at or pounce on people. He is a normal man who loves his family but when a situation arises where he has to react, he then reacts in that powerful way.
I remember in earlier times, if someone was a villain, he had to have a mark on his face or his face would be distorted and a little scary. My idea was to stay away from that.
You have been in the industry for quite some time. Do you still select your roles on instinct?
When you hear a script, in the first five to seven minutes, you know whether or not you are going to do the film. Then when the flow happens, you know that this will be exciting for you as an actor. And when that does not happen, no matter how much the producer or director tries to convince you, you know that it is not your space.
Many films grace your filmography. Is there any genre that you would still like to explore?
As an actor, you always have the hunger to play newer characters. I would actually love to play a superhero, or do an action-comedy.
There has been a huge wave with digital platforms coming in.
Digital platforms have opened many doors for actors and filmmakers to tell stories that were not meant for the big screen.
What does 2019 hold for you film-wise?
I have two South films coming out. One is called Kurukshetra. I am playing the character of Arjun and it will release in March. Then there is another film directed by the legendary filmmaker, Teja. It is a Telugu film called Sita with Kajal Aggarwal. It’s a thriller. Then there is another Kannada movie. Apart from this, there are a couple of digital movies and web series that I am still in talks about.