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"I love commercial films as much as I love offbeat cinema" - Sushant Singh
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In a career spanning eighteen years, Sushant Singh has worked as an actor in theatre, television and films and has established himself as one of the respected names in the business. In this interview, he talks about his journey as an actor so far.

You were groomed as an actor by none other than Ebrahim Alkazi, who happens to be one of the greatest theatre directors and drama teachers in India. How was it learning from him?

Working with Mr. Ebrahim Alkazi is the best thing that has ever happened to me. He is considered to be the father of postmodern theatre in India. Whatever I know about acting is all that I imbibed from him. I could not have asked for a better mentor.

There must be very few people who would be aware of the fact that you worked as a voice over artist for some time.

I did some television assignments out of necessity. I used to be paid Rs. 3000 for a day’s job which helped me to pay my bills. Most of these projects required me to shoot for a day which worked for me as I did not want anybody to notice me in television shows. My focus was completely on films. To my surprise, one of my father’s colleague, who was based in Gorakhpur, saw me on a TV show and recognized me. It was a cameo in a New Year show which was being produced by Anupam Kher’s production house. It was embarrassing for me as I believed that I was made for bigger things in life. That made me realize that television is a far-reaching medium and any insignificant work I do on TV, it will get noticed. So, I decided that I would never do anything for money and stopped taking up such assignments. One of my roommates, whom I knew from my college days, worked with a television studio. He suggested that I should work as a translator for the Discovery Channel shows that were being dubbed in Hindi. Then, everybody thought that I had a good voice and they roped me for doing voice overs as well. I was making Rs. 40,000 per month from this job which was a good sum. It also gave me the freedom to refuse films that did not interest me. I did all this till ‘Jungle’ released.

You are juggling between shooting for films and hosting a TV show. Does that mean you are no longer apprehensive towards working in television?

I have never really had any issues with television. During my struggling phase, I used to audition for several TV shows. The directors or their assistants would always praise me and speak highly of my acting abilities but they would end up casting a known face from films. I was upset by such practices and decided that I would do television when the makers would come to me with an offer and agree to work with me on my conditions. I did a show called ‘Dhadkan’ when it was offered to me. After that I did television whenever I needed some money. I am doing ‘Saavdhan India’ at the moment which is doing very well and I am very happy with the way it has turned out.

Your filmography boasts of an interesting mix of films – right from commercial films like ‘The Legend Of Bhagat Singh’, ‘Dum’, ‘Family: Ties Of Blood’ to offbeat films like ‘Hulla’ and ‘Mirch’. ‘Hate Story 2’ released earlier this year and did well at the box office. You will soon be seen in fairly commercial films like ‘Baby’ and ‘Lipstick Waale Sapne’. After the success of ‘Hate Story 2’, have you made a conscious decision to act in films that seem to be commercially viable?

Barring few films like ‘The Legend Of Bhagat Singh’ and ‘Dum’, I was never offered any substantial role in a so called commercial film. Then, there were certain films made on a lower budget that offered me meatier parts. I chose to be a part of the latter. But, I love commercial films as much as I love offbeat cinema. That is the reason I’m doing films like ‘Baby’ and ‘Lipstick Waale Sapne’.

You have played a variety of roles in different films but a lot of them were negative roles. Did you ever fear getting stereotyped in similar roles?

I have really made a strategy with respect to choice of roles or films. If a role excites me, I agree to play it, irrespective of the fact that whether it is a negative role or a positive role. Thankfully, I have never been stereotyped as an actor. I have played many negative roles and at the same time, I am doing a show like ‘Saavdhan India’, which features me as someone who makes people aware of the various issues in our country. I don’t worry about getting stereotyped as I have immense faith in my talent and I believe and I can do justice to any kind of role.

Right from the seasoned actors to the actors who have just stepped into the industry, everybody uses PR machinery to promote themselves and their films. What do you think about this trend?

For the first time in my career, I used the help of PR machinery during the release of ‘Hate Story 2’. I did this because I was making a comeback into commercial films and also I had the money to invest in some PR activity. These days, people have a very short attention span. There are so many channels, so many websites. To make your presence felt in such a scenario, you have to push yourself a little further and ensure that there is visibility on all the platforms. It is a healthy trend and is in sync with today’s times.

A lot of aspiring actors come to Mumbai everyday with stars in their eyes. Any advice for them?

Well, I would advise them to follow their dreams. They should not do sub standard work for money. Rather, they should have a Plan B – part time job, ads, anything that helps them to sustain while they pursue their dreams. They should wait for the right opportunities to come to them.

Would you like to shed some light on the characters that you play in your forthcoming films ‘Baby’ and ‘Lipstick Waale Sapne’?

‘Lipstick Waale Sapne’ is a woman centric film. I have been paired opposite Konkona SenSharma in the film. It’s too early to talk about the character that I play in the film. In ‘Baby’, I play one of the negative characters. There is one chapter in the film that revolves around the character that I play. I had a great time working with Akshay Kumar. He is such a huge star and yet, a very secure and warm human being.

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