More than the audience, Sunil Grover is excited to see himself in a different avatar in Tandava. The actor, who rose to fame with his comic avatars on television, is set to play the role of Gurpal, a clever, ruthless character in the Amazon Prime Video original series. Grover will be seen playing the role of Samar (Saif Ali Khan) most trusted person, who has a dangerous and secret past.
In an exclusive chat with Indianexpress.com, Sunil Grover spoke of breaking out of his funny image, working on a multi-starrer, collaborating with director Ali Abbas Zafar and more.
Excerpts from the conversation…
Tell us something about Tandava and your role.
First of all, I feel really happy and lucky to be a part of this beautiful show. It is a fictional work based on the world of politics. It is a very different role from what Gurpal Chauhan has seen me do, but I really can’t say much about it.
For the Tandava, everyone is running to gain power and a chair, and the show details what really happens behind the scenes. It is a serious drama, but when you watch it, you realize that it is very human, and that is when you will engage and connect with it.
Stepping out of your comedy image or working with such a star cast – what was more exciting for you?
To be honest, I would never do anything like this. Ali called me and I was excited because it was a new world for me. The thing that made me more curious was that I was confident that I could do something like this. I had a list of things I did not want to do for a long time. And given Gurpal, a very different part from what I have done, or offered, Tandava was exciting to me. Of course the cast is an amazing one, and I had an amazing time working with them. It is always a rich experience to be with such great actors. Now I can hope that chemistry can translate well on screen, and the audience enjoys watching it.
When you work with such big artists, does the fear of getting lost in the crowd ever creep into your mind?
have no fear. Instead of thinking about being lost I take it as a big opportunity to be a part of something very amazing. Which is a surprising thing for any actor. Also, scripts and producers must be trusted. Gurpal is a very defined character, standing on his own. Since it was so fresh for me too, I’m sure the audience would notice as well.
You think most of the scenes are with Saif Ali Khan. How was the experience working with them?
Yes, Gurpal is from the same party whose name is Samar Pratap Singh (Khan’s character). It was wonderful to work with him. He is such a dedicated, passionate actor. Saif has done so much work but has the energy of a newcomer. He knows the script and is always ready. Also, I remember, even when others would shoot for their close ups, he would be around to signal. She was very sweet and kind. I have never felt that he is such a great actor who has seen the world. His fresh approach to his work was a learning for me.
This is your second collaboration with Ali Abbaz Zafar. How was working with him again?
He is as sarcastic as he was, there is no change (laughs) it is always cute working with him, because he is so agreeable and easy. You can always have a healthy discussion with him. He is quiet yet having so much fun with his team. In addition, Ali knows his scripts well and designs them before coming on set. Therefore, it becomes very easy for the actors to perform on their vision. After working with him first, I also share a strong trust factor with him, and I know that everything he does will be good for me, and the project.
Which side of student politics will we see in the Tandava. And what is your impression on it?
The show will feature power games, and students and politics at the center in an interesting way. For me, I never understood politics then, nor do I now. I have always tried to implement them and their speeches, and I still do the same. However, I think the seeds of politics become limited at this stage, and we can all hope that power reaches the right hand side. In the same way, they are trained to become future world leaders.
The teaser had a dialogue- Iss Des has only one thing, Rajaniti. And the main mantra is the secret of this country.. Will there be any reference to the current government?
Of course not, the orgy is completely set in a fictional world. There is no reference to any political party. The line you are referring to is stated from the character’s point of view. The show or I, personally don’t believe the same.
What does orgy mean to you?
It is a dance form, which is quite aggressive. And we all use it as a metaphor for something that causes havoc. In the show, you will see how the hunger game craves to gain power.
If you were given the opportunity to play the role of a political person, whom would you choose?
If you ask me to imitate someone’s way, I can but I would like to play a fictional character. Just that the story and the characters should be exciting to me. However, if I have to play the lead role in the biopic of our historical heroes and leaders, I would love to do so.
Some amazing content is being seen on the web space in 2020. As an actor, how much does the medium excite you?
Its a new medium which is growing very fast. In addition, there is a lot of freedom between creative and time wise. A producer can tell a long story, and thus it gives actors better scope to play their characters. However, it is also a major challenge to maintain the attention of the audience for so long. This is a challenge for most writers, and then of course actors and directors. Over the years, we got to see some content and performance blowing minds, and I hope you all like Tandav too.
Recently the digital medium has been placed under the Ministry of I&B. Do you think its independence can be curbed?
We have to follow the new rules that come our way. Personally, I think that something should be left to the discretion of the audience. They know what they want to see and should have the option to choose. There are certain materials, which can certainly cause a dent in our society, but apart from that, I think that the stories that can bring change should be well promoted. Stories that show a mirror to society, and can help to gain some progressive ideas. I think there were a lot of topics that were a taboo but through the web series, it became a dinner table discussion. And this is what we need now.
Produced by Himanshu Kishan Mehra and Ali Abbas Zafar, the nine-episode political drama features Dimple Kapadia, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Dino Morea, Kumud Mishra, Gauhar Khan, Amaira Dastur, Mo. Others including Zeeshan Ayub, Kritika Kamra, Sara Jane Dias, Sandhya Mridul, Anoop Soniyaan, Hetten Tatejwani, Paresh Pahuja and Shonali Nagrani. It will start streaming on Amazon Prime Video from January 15.