Sai Ballal, who was last seen in Udaan, is set to play a negative role yet again with &TV’s Jaat Na Poocho Prem Ki. MUSKAN BAKSHI catches up with the actor
What is your role?
I play Pujan Pandey, a Physic professor who is from a middle class Brahmin family. Even though he is a man of words — a Professor — he believes in casteism. This is because it’s been ingrained in him since childhood and he is from a superior community and he has to carry on the family traditions and values. These values are so deep in him that he goes out of his way to ensure nobody crosses the boundaries that he has set for his community and family. However, it is his daughter who breaks his archiac viewpoint.
Do you think such a role sits well on your character?
This is the same thing that I asked the writer — ‘That a Professor who is well-educated and teaches college students, is this role suitable for my character?’ They told me that Pandey is a person who uses Newton’s Law for his personal benefit. In some ways he thinks of himself. Strangely, after this role came to me, I saw a few doctors and engineers who too believe in cast discrimination.
How is Pandey different from Kamal Narayan in Udaan?
Narayan was uneducated brash and violent. If he wanted to kill a person, he didn’t think about the consequences and just did the deed in a cold blooded manner. Pandey is a Professor who can translate the Sanskrit shloks into English at the drop of a hat. he is not the kind of person who will kill in cold-blood. He is dignified and carries himself well.
How did acting happen?
Let’s go to my childhood days. I was good at mimicking people. That’s how I used to amuse my family. They were the ones who said I would make a great actor. But I am from a conservative South Indian family where pursuing anything but an academic career was a strict ‘no-no’. But I decided to pursue acting and started doing theatre, I was shy, theatre built my confidence in me. It taught me how to portary a character, how to execute it and how to study the character in oneself.
What is your approach to acting?
It is all about imitating life. Whatever is happening in the real life can be translated into reel. The character I am playing — Pandey — somewhere this character exists. Just I took the mannerisms for the character. I am not saying that there is only one such character in the world, there may be several who behave like Pandey. I just imagined how such people would behave in real life and incorporated it in my role.
How has your journey been thus far?
Initially, I didn’t get any support from my family. I struggled a lot. Today, when I look back at how my life has panned out, I feel proud. Of course, there were challenges. I didn’t speak a word of Hindi when I entered this industry. Now, I speak the language fluently. I feel like I have achieved something in life.
Why always do negative roles?
After Udaan, I was waiting for a positive role. If you see my track record I did a show called Phulwa where I played Thakur Daroga Singh; it was a positive role. Then I did Saraswatichandra, I played Buddhi Dhan Dharmadhikari, it was also a positive role. But things changed after that. It was only when I did Udaan that was negative. I wanted to do positive roles, but the offers that came my way were that of a negative character. I kept saying ‘no’ to all of them. Then I got Pandey. Even though I play a Professor I don’t hesistate to kill people if they go for inter-caste marriage. I found this very interesting and said ‘yes’.
Has playing negative roles affected you personally?
Never. I just do my work; give my shot when ‘action’ is called out and switch back to normal the minute the director says ‘cut’. I am back to being myself. I am neither Pandey nor Narayan.
All your roles are similar. Why?
The only similarity that you will find is that Pandey and Narayan are grey characters. Having said this, Pandey is a role that has never been payed on TV before and hope that the audience will like my performance. The role is of a man who is real, dabang and well-spoken.