Friday, June 21, 2024

I feel OTT platforms are spoiling the charm of the big screen – Actor Sandeep Bose (Exclusive Interview)

Interviewed and written by – Reetika Choudhury 

Edited by – Robin Bhuyan (Editor in Chief) 

Join us in a chat with actor Sandeep Bose, senior actor and casting director, who has appeared in movies and web shows such as LSD, Jolly LLB, Phantom, Scoop, as we talk about some of his insights regarding cinema, his inspirations, and his career in detail. 

Tell us about how you got involved into the world of acting?

I began my journey in theatre, modeling, and extra-curricular activities while I was still in school. Even in my kindergarten days, I was deeply fascinated by acting. At the tender age of 4-5 years, I accompanied my parents to watch films starring Rajesh Khanna on the big screen. My mother, a huge fan of Rajesh Khanna, instilled in me a love for his movies. Growing up in the late 70s and 80s, I found myself captivated by the art of acting, particularly through his performances. I often indulged in mimicking Rajesh Khanna and other actors. As I matured, my passion for acting led me to actively participate in theatre during my college days. My mentor was Shekhar Vaishnavi Ji from the National School of Drama. I collaborated with the NSD repertory and freelanced with his group in Delhi, performing in various Hindi plays and even one English play with Barry John. Alongside theatre, I also pursued modeling. Although my childhood dream was to become a space scientist, I also harbored a desire to become an artist. Hence, I chose the path of becoming an actor to fulfill that artistic aspiration.

You are also a casting director- tell us how you got involved in it?

As an actor, I started my journey in theatre before moving to Mumbai following my graduation. It’s been a long journey since then. After arriving in Mumbai and completing my theatre training, my childhood friend Anil Devgn, who is Ajay Devgn’s elder cousin and was an Assistant Director at the time, suggested that I pursue a career as a casting director, despite the challenges it presented. I tried to break into acting, networking with directors of the time, but I realized that establishing myself as an actor, earning a living, and sustaining in the industry would be tough. Given my artistic inclinations, I transitioned into the role of a casting director. A friend who was an upcoming producer offered me my first break in casting, although the film unfortunately never saw the light of day. This happened around 20 years ago. My first notable film as a casting director was “Sadme,” directed by Mr. Agarwal, although the project didn’t proceed to completion. It featured an upcoming actress and actors like Brijendra Kala and Charlie. Over time, I had the opportunity to work on two Hindi films for directors like Prakash Jha and Ram Gopal Verma. Additionally, I worked on casting for few Hollywood films.

What are the challenges that you have faced as casting director?

The role of a casting director is not as easy as people think. In the past, I auditioned actors like Kartik Aryan, Rajkumar Rao, and many others. My responsibilities included conducting auditions for roles, performing screen tests, and creating DVD files for each actor. We would spend entire nights editing, to ensure that each actor portrayed their assigned role effectively. We auditioned several well-known actors such as Razak Khan, Kiran Kumar, Nirmal Pandey, Rishita Bhatt, and Aman Verma, Shahid Kapoor for the Hollywood film “The Cheetah Girls: One World”. It was a rewarding experience to cast actors for such a project, but it was also challenging. I had only two assistants, and the final DVD copy had to be sent to the head office of Walt Disney in the USA, which was a three-month process.

You have appeared in several movies such as LSD, Phantom, Jolly LLB. Is there any movie or webseries closest to your heart?

I have been a part of two web series, one of which has been released, titled “Scoop,” while the other is yet to be released. Additionally, I have been involved in more than 20 films, including three short films. Among them, Jolly LLB and Love, Sex and Dhoka hold a special place in my heart. In LSD I was originally slated to be the casting director, but I ended up being cast as the main villain, the father of the actress Nushrratt Bharuccha, who was relatively new at the time. Rajkumar Rao was also part of the cast. I underwent a screen test, and based on merit, I landed the role. My audition footage made its way to Ekta Kapoor, who affirmed that I was the right choice for the role of the heroine’s father. “LSD” was India’s first digital film, and my performance in it was praised by actors such as Paresh Rawal, Anupam Kher, Imtiaz Ali, and Anil Kapoor. However, all credit for my performance goes to Dibakar Banerjee, the director of the film. This project marked a significant breakthrough in my acting career, as it was the first film where I played a main role. Prior to this, I had also appeared in cameo roles in some films, and I was part of a serial called “Yug” in 1997.

You had a chance to work with the legendary Dev Anand in the 2011 film Chargesheet. How was the experience? Any memorable moments from the film set?

One of my friends was the executive producer of Dev Anand’s Navketan Films, and I had the opportunity to partially cast for that film. It was a tremendous honor for me to even have a partial casting director role in a film associated with Dev Anand. When I met him, I found him to have a charismatic personality. However, during that time in 2011, I didn’t own a camera phone or a personal camera, so I couldn’t take any pictures with Dev Sahab. He explained to me the kind of characterizations he needed for the film, and at that time, email wasn’t as popular, so we had to provide hard copies of the photographs. I casted three or four actors for the film.

Tell us about your latest series Scoop. How was your experience?

My experience was very positive. I had the opportunity to work with National Award-winning director Hansal Mehta Ji, and it was for a significant role. However, many of my scenes ended up being edited, but that was the decision of the director and the team. Nonetheless, it was a great experience working with them because the role was crucial, and the story revolved around the reality of one of Mumbai’s dons and a journalist.

How you feel that OTT platform is going to impact the future of cinema and TV?

What I feel is that OTT is the future medium for cinema and television. Not only I, but many others, believe that OTT is diminishing the viewership of the big screen. If you consider big stars, directors, and technicians who gained fame through the big screen—like Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, Satyajit Ray, Dilip Kumar, Shahrukh Khan, and many more—the impact of OTT becomes clear. OTT platforms are spoiling the charm of the big screen. A layman used to watch films on the big screen, and that’s how films became blockbusters. However, OTT is primarily accessible in urban areas and does not reach remote areas, thus confining the audience. I believe that only web series should be released on OTT platforms, not films. Films are meant for the big screen because local people can relate to their lives better when they watch films on a big screen.

What is your opinion regarding AI and its impact?

Regarding AI, there are both positive and negative aspects. On the positive side, it can bring ease to various spheres of life. However, on the negative side, it may hamper employment, especially in a country like India.

Who is your ideal director and why?

I am a fan of Satyajit Ray, who is a legendary filmmaker. I have also worked with four National Award-winning directors: Hansal Mehta, Dibakar Banerjee, Kabir Khan, and Subhash Kapoor. Each of them is a master of their craft in their own unique way. Additionally, I have worked with Ram Gopal Varma, who is in a class of his own. He is an innovative and creative individual who has transformed the direction of the Indian film industry.

What is your opinion on violent movies like Animal– will it negatively impact the society?

Absolutely, it will have a negative impact. At the same time, the film is the thought process of the director, and I have no hard feelings towards him. Every director portrays their thought process in their films. However, I believe that this kind of film will definitely have a negative impact on our younger generation. If you look at films from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, they left a positive imprint on our society and conveyed moral values along with suspense and thrill. Therefore, I think that films featuring excessive violence and disrespect towards women are harmful to a country like India.

What are your future plans?

I have exciting plans. One of my films, titled Dirty Heroes, will be released on a renowned OTT platform in the next 2-3 months, where I play the lead role. Additionally, I have signed on for 2-3 more films, which are scheduled to begin production by the end of June. Looking further ahead, I plan to become a producer and open my own production house.

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