Over to Amit who has seen several ups and downs in his career as an actor and says that currently he is in not in a happy space but in a comfortable zone.
Three Television shows, two plays and couple of films in hand, how does it feel?
It obviously feels good but I have seen such days earlier too in my career. There was a time when I was doing this much and more and then there were times when I had nothing in hand. There also have been times when I have called up people asking for work and while everyone acknowledged my request, nothing happened further. So I have seen such phases many a times in my life when I had to sit at home for 5-6 months looking for work and then suddenly there is so much that I had to refuse some things as I could not accommodate them all! It happens in every actor's life and as an actor one has to be prepared for this.
Tell us about all Television shows that you are busy with at present.
Well, I have finished shooting for Epic TV's Dharamkshetra being produced by Vaibhav Modi where I play the character of Dronacharya. It was a superb experience as the entire show is a different take on Mahabharat. A very different interpretation with exclusive croma and special effects and realistic costumes, dialogues and sets. Currently, I am shooting for Dr. B. K. Modi's Buddha which will be telecast on Zee TV in which I play the character of Kulguru Vashistha who has a clash of ideology with another sage played by Kabir Bedi. I am also seen in Shabbir Ahluwalia's Savitri on Life Ok as the Raja's senapati.
Are your characters different in each of these serials?
Yes, even though the genres may look similar they all are three different genres – Dharamkshetra is a mythological, Buddha is historical whereas Savitri is a contemporary take on the original story of Savitri and Satyavan. So even my characters are different in each of these. In Dharamkshetra, I play Dronacharya and even though I have read so much on Mahabharat, I found it different every day. In Buddha my character is right from the start to the end and I play a sage who is a strict Brahmin and much bigger than Chanakya who is against the concept of Nirvana. In Savitri, my character is very interesting as with every episode the viewers are confused whether it is a positive or a negative character and only in the end the real truth will be out.
We see a sudden rise in historicals and mythological shows on Indian Television. For someone who has done this earlier too, what do you feel about it?
Every few years the trend on television changes and we see something new catching up. In this case, yes we see a sudden re-vamp from family dramas to such shows which is natural. Also it is good for senior actors like us who have done theatre and shows like these earlier too. Our generation has done so much and that is the reason we experienced actors are being called again for such shows which need a certain seriousness when it comes to acting. Even the channel and producers are happy with us as they think that they can save time with experienced actors. Since we have proved ourselves over the years we can add facets and imbibe our experience even as we shoot.
You are one actor who is still doing serious theatre. What is on your plate at present?
I am not into theatre for money, there are people who do commercial theatre but for me it is more for creative satisfaction. I believe that for us actors, theatre is to oil your machines and get polished once in a while for acting assignments in other fields. At present, I am doing two plays and travelling for the performance all over India. Both the plays are written by Gulzaar saab. One is Arre O Henry which are originally stories of American short story writer O' Henry and the other is Phaansa where I play Yudhistar. My co-actors in both the plays are almost the same – Lubna Salim, Bakul Thakkar and my director Salim Arif too is the same for both the shows, so working with the team is great fun and who would not want to spend time with the legend – Gulzar saab! Biggies of the entertainment industry have come to watch both these plays. And all said and done, performing in front of a live audience gives a big high.
Films give you exposure, money and they are a good way to balance your expertise! My film career got a revival due to Anil Sharma's Singh Sahab the Great which will release soon and in which I play a main villain along with Prakash Raj. I am also doing a film Fools Return with Vinay Pathak, Mughda Godse and Saurabh Shukla. Then there is a rom-com Gollu Pappu directed by Kabir Sadanand which also stars Kunal Roy Kapoor and Vir Das.
We also hear that you are involved in other interesting projects out of India. Tell us about them.
I have done a Spanish film and also the British series, Sharpe's – Peril. It is a British TV film which is part of an ITV series based on Bernard Cornwell's historical fiction novels about the English soldier Richard Sharpe during the Napolenic Wars. It has been televised on BBC Worldwide & ITV where I play the character of Corporal Barabbas Hakeswill. It is for this series that I first shaved my head. The response for it has been tremendous.
Apart from acting, I am also on the faculty of Welingkar Institute of Management, Mumbai as a lecturer for the students of Diploma in Media & Entertainment. Also I am a special guest lecturer for the same institute and my topic is 'Overview on Television'.
So currently you are enjoying every moment in your life?
Yes, you can say that. As an actor I am in a comfortable zone with a small smile on my face. I am not happy, nor sad. Currently, I am busy with so many things that I have no time free time to think about the future. I know this is a great phase but it is temporary. As an actor I am always ready for surprises. There are times in every actor's life when for around 6-7 months you are doing nothing, sitting idle, calling people for work and then suddenly something moves and offers come in together and you have to choose between them. There was a time I was doing 3 fiction shows – Dekha Ek Khwab on Sony, Aasman se Aage on Life Ok and Veer Shivaji on Colors and Junoon – Aisi Nafrat Toh Kaisa Ishq too was offered to me at the same time but I could not do it as I was busy.So, that is an actor's life - totally unpredictable!
Seema Khot Mattoo