Chandan Roy Sanyal: Hema Malini is really cool

You loved Chandan Roy Sanyal as Mikhail in Kaminey, but didn’t recognise him in a telecom advertisement? Don’t blame yourself

You are not the only one to fall for Chandan’s plan – to do roles that are completely different from each other. When Chandan Roy Sanyal moved from theatre to Bollywood, he had plans – of being a part of a huge hit, of making it big in tinseltown… but little did even he know that one day, he would be directed by Hema Malini. That too, with the Dream Girl dressed in track pants. “It was really cool being directed by her in Tell Me Oh Khuda. She is the first woman director I’ve worked with. When a woman is in power, she looks devilish. It’s so cool. The way she ran the show was impressive. I’ve always seen her playing different characters in beautiful saris, and here she was, nonchalant in a tracksuit, sports shoes and a cap. And the way she would shout ‘Action!’ into her mike was cool.” And he will learn on the job with veteran actors. “It was a great chance to interact with yesteryear actors. I got to meet Rishi Kapoor, Vinod Khanna, Dharmendra. I admire Rishiji and I am very glad I got to see the way he delivers a scene.” And that women directors are so much fun. “Women are more sensitive than men, and that obviously translates to how women directors handle their actors. Actors are the most sensitive lot. So in that area, women directors score higher. I would love to work with Farah Khan.”
However unexpected it was, that’s what happened, and Chandan, who is riding on a high after the success of F.A.L.T.U., is more than happy with the kinds of roles he’s been getting. “For me, acting means liberation. I love that I can shed everything around me and step into a character. I get to create a space, step from one self to another. After Kaminey, I did a commercial, but people who have seen both still don’t realise it’s the same person. I like to do roles people are able to differentiate from each other. I love to confuse and shock people,” he says. With his next role being that of a ghost (in Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children), we think he may end up doing that, in a more literal sense.
Chandan also admits it’s not an easy job for someone like him, who has no filmy background to enter the industry. “It’s very difficult to do so, almost impossible. Everyone wants to become a star but very few make it. It has still not sunk in for me. I set high standards for my work. I need to work harder. Once I have a huge body of work, then I can say I have made it,” he says. At the same time, he has nothing against star kids either, having worked with three of them – Shahid Kapoor in Kaminey, Jackky Bhagnani in F.A.L.T.U. and Esha Deol in Tell Me Oh Khuda. “Initially, when I was on this side of the fence, I used to think that it is much easier for those whose parents are in the industry to enter Bollywood. Others have to work much harder to get noticed. After working with Jackky and Esha, I have realised that while they can enter easily, it is very tough to maintain a position in the industry. They are also constantly compared to their parents. It takes a very long time for them to come out from under their parents’ shadows. For those of us from non-film backgrounds, it takes a while to establish ourselves, but once we have done that, it is easier to continue to stay in the industry. The struggle is the same. In the end, it all boils down to talent and hard work.”

That’s true, whether it is in Bollywood or Broadway. Chandan may have made a mark in Bollywood, but he continues to balance his new found love with his first one, theatre. “Movies definitely excite me more. I do dream of being on Broadway though. I have directed a play that will open soon in Mumbai.”