An actor’s world
Feb 25, 2014-
Saugat Malla began his career as an actor with Aarohan Gurukul. He starred in numerous critically-acclaimed productions—Oedipus Rex and Agni Ko Katha, among others—at Gurukul, and his foray commercial cinema, the 2012 blockbuster that was Loot, cemented his status as a veritable force in Nepali acting. Saugat’s role in his debut film not only introduced him to film-going audiences, but also won him rave critical reviews. ‘Haku Kale’ won over the hearts and minds of Nepali youngsters but he is certainly not the only memorable character the talented actor has given life to on celluloid. His roles in Highway, Soongava: Dance of the Orchids, Uma, Chaddke and Katha have all been portrayed with the assiduousness of a remarkably gifted and dedicator actor. Rajita Dhungana caught up with the actor to talk to him about his lives on and off stage and screen. For someone who immerses into a character enough to lose his own self for the entire duration he is working on a new play or film, the differences seem subtle. Saugat’s most recent project Fidkiri is scheduled to be released in the coming months, while Mukhauta is still in production. Unsurprisingly, the actor was in character over the course of this recent interview.
What things interest you apart from your work?
I don’t really get any free time as such. Shooting schedules and theatre rehearsals keep me busy constantly. Even when I’m not working, I am thinking about my characters and preparing for my roles. I cannot sit idle without doing one thing or another so I listen to music most of the time. I love listening to ghazals and also hard rock. But then again I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what my respective characters’ interests are and what kind of music they would like to listen to. I also like reading books and watching movies when I have the time.
All of your portrayals of characters on film have been received positively. Does this have anything to do with how you choose your roles?
Whenever I’m signing a new film, my main focus is on figuring out whether or not I am interested in the role I have been offered. Sometimes, I like the challenge of portraying characters who are completely different from me. There is no set formula I adhere to while choosing a role. It is all about interest and instinct.
What kinds of films do you like to watch?
I like watching all kinds of films—of different genres and backgrounds, be they commercial or art movies. I feel like it’s important to watch successful commercial films and analyse why they have become so popular with the audience. I also try not to miss out on award-winning cinema and like to observe how they have been made. Watching films is a great way of learning about acting as well as about global trends in cinemas.
Do you look up to anyone as a source of inspiration?
When I was a kid, Amitabh Bachchan was a huge name in the Indian film industry. So I have always been inspired by him. I also admire Daniel Day Lewis and Sean Penn as they both execute their roles with perfection. Irrfan Khan and Naseeruddhin are also remarkably talented actors.
What kind of books do you like to read?
I read a lot of books by Indian writers. Nirmal Verma, Vijay Tendulkar and Mohan Rakesh are three of my favourite authors. I am really fond of plays by both Tendulkar and Rakesh. Right now, I’m reading Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger. It has proved an interesting so far.
Which platform do you enjoy more, theatre or film?
I love acting. I enjoy it fully whether I’m performing on stage and in front of the camera, although it was the theatre that taught me acting. The skills I honed during my time in theatre have helped establish me as an actor today. I have been part of the theatre scene here for more than a decade now and received much praise from the audience. My journey in theatre has been a memorable one and I have had numerous opportunities to work with great actors. Commercial films, on the other hand, have helped introduce me to a broader audience. It is important for actors to do such film for this reason and also because we all need to earn a living.
Is there anything you’d like to change about yourself?
I tend to forget things very often so people keep complaining about this habit of mine. If I could, I’d like to better remember people or things. But sometimes I think this habit of mine make things easier for me as far as getting in the character’s skin is concerned. I can forget about one character and place myself in the shoes of another quite easily.
If not acting, what would you be doing right now?
I always wanted to become an actor so I never thought about an alternate career path for myself. My parents wanted me to go for more secure careers but I was so fascinated by the world of acting and have been a part of it since I was in the third grade. Moreover, I don’t think I can do anything except act.
Any memorable incident you’ve encountered with a fan?
There have been quite a few but one that comes immediately to mind is something that happened in New Road not that long ago. Two friends were arguing about whether or not I was Saugat Malla. Finally, they came to me and asked who I was and when they got the answer, one began asking the other for money. They’d bet on whether or not I was Saugat Malla and I just sat there smiling at myself.
What would you like to say to those who look up to you and want to take up careers in acting?
Whosoever wants to make a career out of acting should be focussed on his or her work, and never let the passion that prompted them to pursue acting in the first place die. I have seen lots of friends change career paths after their first few films failed to work well. But hard work and dedication only help you progress. If you are willing to give your best and not lose focus, there are lots of opportunities in this sector.
Published: 25-02-2014 09:17
- Saugat Malla