An Indian actor who began his on screen career with Shobna Desai’s soap opera, Durgesh Nandinii, has come a long way in his career. Amit Sadh, made his debut on the big screen with Phoonk 2, a horror film that released in 2010. The movie ‘Kai Po Che’ brought him into the limelight of the masses, after which there was no looking back for him.
The actor has recently winded up shooting with Akshay Kumar for ‘Gold’ and is eagerly waiting for the release of his web series, Breathe, which will be out by the end of 2017 on Amazon Prime Videos.
Read on to know about this star who met fame very early in life, as he opens up about his journey in the Hindi film industry, in this exclusive interview with Knocksense.
Knocksense: How has your journey been from school to TV screen and from television to celluloid?
Amit: It’s been a great journey so far. Tough to the point that you feel like you’re getting nowhere, at times. It’s the nature of this cruel business. But as artists, we are unable to live another life. I’ve done several ‘other’ jobs to pay the bills and there were times where people would say to me “Why don’t you just do this job? Quit chasing a dream that’s unattainable” and to be honest I thought “They’re kinda right, it does sound practical and maybe I should.”
A day later, I couldn’t do that job knowing I have just given up on my passion. I just knew I had to chase my dream. It happens to you more than once while you’re trying to become a working actor. But now looking back at it, everything that happened to me had to happen to make me the person I am.
The way I connect with the characters I play is through my experiences in life. Without these experiences, I wouldn’t be half the actor I am today.
Moving from school, which is a safe environment where you can try anything in class and the teachers are there to pick you back up if you fail to work on screen was a massive shock. In class, you work with the director from the inception of creating the character to creating a fully-fledged character. The teachers are there to guide you in every step of the way and help you make the choices. In movies, you bring to the table the character and the director generally help you tweak and shape the character according to his vision. Also, there is a lot more pressure on the actor to deliver what movie people call a ‘performance’. Also, most drama schools teach you what is traditionally known as theatre acting, in which the process is quite a bit different to the process of acting on screen.
Knocksense: How was Lucknow for you and what keeps you in touch with the city today?
Amit: I studied there at La Martiniere College and still have friends there. It’s a place where I grew up and am grateful to the city for teaching me so much.
Knocksense: Are you still connected with La Martiniere College?
Amit: Yes, I am still connected, I don’t have many fond memories of my time there haha, but I look at my experiences there as life lessons, for which I am very grateful.
Knocksense: Theatre is regarded as the stepping stone in the industry by many actors. But why did you join it after doing television and how was your experience?
Amit: I got into TV at a young age. Late teens/early 20’s, typically the years that most people would spend studying acting. It was something that I had always wanted to do. I just did it the other way around. Theatre is a great way of finding oneself. It doesn’t give you talent but it teaches you technique and you learn so much about yourself, which helps you lend yourself to characters in order to portray them truthfully. I think theatre is a must not only for actors, but everyone, just to explore yourself and learn about oneself and also to gain confidence- both of which are key to life.
Knocksense: In our research we came to know that you went to Lee Strasburg’s institute to learn acting, please tell us about the process you learnt there.
Amit: It was what they call a ‘Method acting’ school. ‘The Method’ is basically a set of exercises, which help the actor sharpen his instrument (Your body). Still to this day I practice the exercises daily. Just like a pianist tunes his piano, a cricketer does training drills to improve his game, a dancer practices his/her moves etc. It is essential for an actor to keep his instrument in top working order.
Through those exercises, I sharpened my senses, learned a lot about myself and about my past experiences. Revisiting past experiences through the exercises was scary but so liberating. In life, we go through something, we attach a meaning to that event in the heat of the moment and never really think about it too hard years down the line. We put a lid on things and try not revisit them as they’re too painful, which I agree they can be. But to me, pretty much having to revisit certain events helped me look at them with the new found wisdom that I did not have earlier. The outcome was that I made peace with people/things/events and attached a new, “less taxing on myself” meaning to them. It was such a beautiful experience. I would highly recommend it to everyone. It was a bit like therapy…without the huge bill hahaha!
Knocksense: Is method acting the way forward in India like it is in the west?
Amit: Method acting is just a term people attach to good acting. Good acting is good acting- Period.
Most people think it’s a technique, but no, it’s just a set of exercises as I stated above. There’s no set technique. Everyone approaches a role differently. How you get there? Well, there are many roads that lead to Rome, which path you take- is up to you, so long as you give a truthful experience to the viewer.
Knocksense: How did you get Kai Po Che?
Amit: Being one of my early roles, I was auditioning quite a bit, as usual at that time I had to audition haha. My agent sent me in and I gave a performance that the director liked and they envisioned me in the part and viola- I was Omi! I don’t know if you were expecting a story here?
Haha But look, I have some advice for young and upcoming actors who might be reading this. I read a lot into how my idols (not that I’m a big idol haha) got their first break. Just go and audition, when you get in the room, don’t try to please them and ‘give them what they want’. Go and give them the script and character it requires from you to bring it alive. Focus on your performance, see it as an opportunity to perform. There will be times when you go to audition after audition, you’re giving it your all, but you’re not booking anything. Don’t think you’re a bad actor, in most cases they envisioned someone else or the character wasn’t quite right for you, and that’s ok. Keep at it and you will walk in one day and you’ll do the script justice and give a truthful performance and the director will say ‘This is my guy/girl”.
As shallow and horrible as it sounds, some directors judge you the minute you walk in and some even make their decision as early as within the first 20 seconds. Looks over talent- that happens a lot and it happen to me too, but its ok, generally when that happens, they end up with a ‘beautiful’ person (which by the way is subjective- they may have popular taste or bad taste) who barely can act. Always do the script and character justice, trust me, it’ll take you a hell of a lot further!
Knocksense: How is the life of an actor, who is not a star kid?
Amit: Tough! Haha Unfortunately in the arts today there is a lot of nepotism that goes on, which is sad. As I said earlier, you need real life experiences to play characters truthfully. I probably will get some stick for saying this, but I believe it is true- most kids who’ve had it on a plate probably don’t have much real life experiences. They’ve not lived a ‘Regular’ life. What do we see on screens and in the theatres? 9/10 times, it’s stories about ‘regular’ people. People who can’t pay the bills, who are poor, who struggle with keeping a job, people who do regular jobs! How many of these stars kids can actually, truly relate to the above? A few maybe, but the majority can’t and if they can’t relate to them how are they gonna find the truthful moments in these characters lives on screen.
Knocksense: How was the feeling working alongside Salman Khan and Amitabh Bachchan. Anything you would like to share with us that you learnt from them.
Amit: It was an absolute honor to work with these wonderful human beings.
Acting aside for a minute, they were the kindest, most caring and loving people that I could have worked with. Not that I would expect them not to be, but they helped me massively by being so welcoming and kind.
As for craft, wow, I learned so much from them and it has really impacted me as an actor. It was a great, enriching experience for me.
Knocksense: Kindly throw some light on your upcoming projects
Amit: I’ve just finished filming Gold, which is a movie with Akshay Kumar about the 1948 Olympic hockey. Also my new Amazon series called ‘breathe’ comes out at the end of this year. Next year, I am planning on doing a documentary- riding across India- from the south, travelling north, through Bhutan, Nepal, through the Himalayas, travelling west and finishing close to the Pakistani border- with my Best friend from Acting school- Zahid, and Chris, who is friend and a hockey player that I met on the set of Gold. We are three friends who are very close, but have very different personalities, so it’ll be interesting… or friendship breaking hahaha, well, we did a short trip when I was in England through the Lake district and we didn’t kill one another, so I’m sure it’ll be fine.