Post his father’s 60th birthday bash, Sid Mallya talks about his dad, debut film and how he almost worked with Priyanka Chopra...
He’s all of 28 and raring to go. Sid Mallya, often known for being Vijay Mallya’s son and heir to the Kingfisher business, has finally found his vocation. A few years ago, the suave youngster packed his bags and moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. Sid (aka Siddhartha) was determined to create an identity of his own. Currently a student of The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama in London, he has come a long way. Although he’s still completing his course, he’s all set to make his film debut with Brahman Naman, a British movie that will premiere as part of the World Cinema dramatic competition at the Sundance Film Festival early next year. In a candid chat, Sid tells After Hrs about his acting ambitions, being a Mallya and what the future holds.
Sid is making his on-screen debut with Brahman Naman, an international film directed by Kolkata-based filmmaker Q. “Ironically it was shot in Bengaluru even though it was a British film, which in a way was kind of nice given my family history in the city. It’s directed by Q and produced by a guy called Steve Barron, who was a very big music video director back in the day, who did the video Take On Me for AHA, Billie Jean, tons of Duran Duran stuff. It was just nice to work with him and Q, because Q’s very artistic and he doesn’t seem to worry about what’s acceptable and what’s not — he just does things. And that’s why it was lots of fun to work on this film. It’s not the biggest role in the film — it’s a supporting lead — but it’s big enough,” says Sid. Delving further into the character he plays, he says, “I am the main antagonist lead. It’s all set in college, Bangalore University. He’s sort of the jock character, gets all the girls and they’re sort of the geeks so that’s where the rivalry comes in. I could definitely relate to bits of it…”
An Indian in Hollywood
What many don’t know is that Sid had also auditioned for a number of ABC shows including Quantico, which has grabbed much headlines for Priyanka Chopra’s leading role. “Like most actors in America I auditioned for a lot of ABC’s pilots, one of them was Quantico and a number of other shows which either did or didn’t get picked up or got cancelled along the way. But that was just in the audition process. Priyanka Chopra is doing really well. That’s all credit to her for sticking through and getting to where she is. I haven’t seen Quantico yet because we don’t get it in the UK. I believe she’s doing a great job and it’s testament to her character and to her work ethic,” he adds. While there are some Indian actors who have managed to make a mark abroad, is Sid concerned about being typecast? “Funnily enough I’m not stereotypically viewed as Indian. They don’t look at me and think I look Indian. In fact, I get more South American than anything else. And I think I’m in a fortunate position because I have that ethnically ambiguous look where I could play Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, South American, Mexican, Egyptian so there’s a lot more — in fact the last thing I think I’ll be able to play is Indian. Because if they want someone, they want someone who looks traditionally Indian, now my mannerisms and all aren’t traditionally Indian so I think I’m okay in terms of typecast. In acting school, funnily enough, they’ve told me I do need to work on softening my accent a little because I have a very thick, cut, crisp British accent that could also limit some of the things I do,” admits Sid. “Apart from Priyanka and to an extent Aishwarya (Rai Bachchan) there hasn’t really been an Indian actress who’s made it big there. There have been more actors — Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan — who have done projects as opposed to the actresses. Therefore logic would tell you it’s easy for the actor. I guess for girls, everyone likes a good-looking face but if you’re not talented it doesn’t matter how good-looking you are. So I wouldn’t say it’s easy for them. Perhaps there are more opportunities for them…”
Taking baby steps
Sid says that since he’s still in school, he’s not in any rush to sign more films. “I’m still in drama school, that’s my focus. I have just completed the first semester so I’ve got till next September. It’s a full 360 degree approach to it. There’s performance, voice, movement, dance, text analysis because the whole thing is how to act through the body. They’ve literally taught me how to re-sit, how to talk, how to walk, breathe because they think everything is connected. If you don’t breathe from the right place in the diaphragm then you tighten everything in the chest. If you don’t stand properly on your feet, you tighten everything in the hips. If you tighten your hips, you tighten your breath, if you tighten your breath you tighten your neck and then emotion doesn’t flow. So it’s a full round thing. We did the waltz, meringue, jive and tango. It’s a nice holistic approach,” he says.
And if Bollywood were to come calling, would Sid take the opportunity? “No, I’m not interested in Bollywood. I don’t think I’ll be able to do it either. The sensibilities are very different, and I don’t think I have the sensibilities to make it in Bollywood. I don’t speak Hindi so my options are rather limited,” says Sid who admits he hasn’t been keeping track of the latest releases either.
Sid, who is currently on a Christmas break from school, flew down to celebrate his father Vijay Mallya’s milestone 60th birthday. The bash in Goa, which lasted for a couple of days, was said to be a lavish affair. However, Sid didn’t come with a gift for his dad. Commenting on what he’s learnt from his Pa, Sid says, “One thing he does really well which perhaps I don’t do as well — he’s quite easy to switch off what other people think. And criticisms or whatever, he’s quite easy to switch away and live his own life whereas I read into things a lot more… You got to love what you do! That’s what he does. He can sit in the office till 5 am because he loves what he does and I didn’t love what I was doing that’s why I left to pursue this different career of mine. I think I’ve found my calling.” Sid does, however, reveal that he finds it easier living in the West, as here he is under constant scrutiny. “I wish people would judge me for who I was as opposed to someone’s son. But I guess being in India that’s something I’m never going to be able to shrug. Therefore in the West I’ve got that opportunity to be my own person a little bit more. It’s always nice.”
From the heart
His personal life has made waves especially a couple of years back when he dated Deepika Padukone. While there have been a couple of link-ups since then, Sid has managed to keep the media glare away. “Yes, there is someone. I’m not going to give names purely because it’s not fair on that person. Then people start prying and hassling that someone. She studies as well. I’m quite happy about my personal life so long as it doesn’t affect someone else. I know if I start giving you names then I’m putting their personal life at risk. As for me, I’m like an open book!” he says. Quiz him if he’s still in touch with Deepika and he says, “Yeah I mean I am in touch with Deepika, like I’m in touch with anyone. I couldn’t be happier for her. It’s great that she’s so successful and long may her continue. I don’t know anything about her Hollywood ventures but I’m sure she will be as great in Hollywood as she’s been here. Best of luck to her!”
What does the new year hold for Sid? “Hopefully, more of the same. I’m happy that things have started to progress in this career that I’ve chosen. 2014 was a stepping stone, 2015 has gone one higher and hopefully 2016 I can continue on that upward trajectory. There are amazing directors and big people that you always want to work with. But I’m happy to take whatever I can. I just want to continue making good stuff and continuing to grow and continuing to learn. That’s my main goal. This is where my heart is!”
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