The good bad boy

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 21 Apr 2018 09:11:53


By Aasawari Shenolikar,

The cutely handsome guy greets me warmly and during the course of conversation, sits on his haunches to show me the just released trailer of his new flick Ranangan. When I object to his sitting down, he coolly pats me, asks me to finish my drink, while he holds his mobile in front of me. What do you call such a down-to earth actor? A thorough gentleman! Well, think again. Because post the release of his movie, he is no longer to be counted as ‘the cute, chocolate-faced guy whom you want to take home.’ In Ranangan, he is going to be the quintessential bad boy. “Fear not - that’s only going to be for the big screen,” Swwapnil Joshi laughs and grinning widely he adds, “In my heart of heart, I will forever remain the good boy.”

Every actor dreams of doing something different that will leave an indelible imprint in the minds of the audience. Swwapnil is no different as he had always harboured a dream to get into a ‘bad boy’s’ character. “But I didn’t want to do a grey role just so that I could tick the box and feel satisfied that I’ve crossed that milestone. I wanted a solid character and this came to me in the form of Shlok in Ranangan.” Not for a minute did he hesitate to be a part of this political drama. “When Rakesh Sarang narrated the script to me, I asked him ‘Why me?’ And he replied - ‘That is exactly why you. People have a certain image of Swwapnil and with this you can break that stereotype.’ This was enough for me to be a part of this project.” He is super glad because this role has tested his potential as an actor to the fullest. “I had to do a lot of internalisation as I didn’t have a reference point. It’s not easy playing a grey character because there are many shades between the black and white spectrum.”

Emotionally, this role was very taxing for Swwapnil. But the roller-coaster emotional ride takes a backseat because the director’s faith in him has paid off and he is very happy with the way Shlok has turned out in Ranangan. “People will either hate me or love me. They will definitely take me back with them,” he states happily and with a lot of confidence too - confidence that made him invest money in the film as he ended up co-producing it. “See, my money is also at stake,” he beams and winks. Even though he invested a lot in playing the bad guy, Swwapnil claims he is totally a director’s actor. “I have my own methods, but I am not purely a method actor. I am intuitive, I am spontaneous. In fact, I am less of an actor, and more
of a reactor.”

Talking about the film, Swwapnil says that the audience will relate to it. “All of us are fighting for something or the other in life, struggling to get things right at some level or the other. We go through ups and downs and everyone has faced betrayal at the hands of their near and dear ones at some point of time. The pain crosses the threshold level when the betrayal becomes dirty - when your own people do not let go of an opportunity to stab you in the back. All of us wear a mask and it is when this mask is removed and one’s existence is challenged that things get really nasty. Ranangan, in short, is a battlefield of emotions,” says the fiercely committed actor, who feels that when someone you believe in goes rogue, then the threshold of pain is greater and the impact that it leaves on your psyche is deeper.

As to why the audience will love the film is because everyone will be able to relate to it. “Everybody in each family is betrayed by a close one at some time or the other. So they will be able to connect with that feeling. Secondly, it is after a long hiatus a Marathi film with a political background, dealing with raw passions and emotions is being released. This is on the lines of Saamna or Simhasan and I am sure people will love it. Thirdly, the film is hugely entertaining. It has a lot of heart. And anything that has a heart will definitely delight the audience.”

It’s nearly after a decade that Swwapnil will be sharing screen space with another stalwart - Sachin Pilgaonkar, who plays a pivotal role in Ranangan. “To be in the same space with Sachin is a surreal experience. To me he is a father-figure and I share a fantastic bond with him off screen too. He knows my strengths as well as weaknesses and that helped me a lot when I shared screen space with him. Working with such a legend is a learning experience. The best part is that he never throws his weight around and makes every actor - big or small- comfortable on the sets.” So good is Sachin in the film that Swwapnil, who would be disturbed at the intensity of Sachin’s contemptible act would often tease him, “Hating you on screen has never been so comfortable.”

Like majority of actors, Swwapnil is pained to see empty theatres. “God is omnipresent, yet we go to temples because sthana cha mhatav astha. Similarly, the pleasure of watching cinema is absolute when one watches it on big screen and not on the mobile or laptop screen. Granted that lucrative offers from many service providers are tempting, but good cinema on the big screen is not only entertaining but also an enriching experience. It enhances your perception, and that is rewarding.” Cinema, whether Hindi or regional, is in good space. But so many remakes and adaptations point towards dearth of originality and professional writers. “Dearth of writers is a universal phenomenon and every generation faces it. But anything special will shine only when there is mediocrity around. We wouldn’t have had a Sholay or a Black - extraordinary cinema that has stood the test of time.”

As for remakes, Swwapnil has a different take on them. He is not averse to the idea of remakes as long as they are not scene to scene, dialogue to dialogue copy of the original. “Cinema is an interpretation of a story. Each individual will have a different take on any story. Othello has been interpreted by so many writers in so many different ways. If I have the freedom to interpret it in a particular style, the audience has the freedom to accept or reject that version. Look at P L Deshpande - his adaptations of so many classics is exemplary. And through his writings, he ensured that not only did these classics become easy to understand, they reached a wider audience. That is how the enriching thought should spread. Amitabh Bachchan in and as Don is unforgettable. But SRK’s and Farhan Akhtar’s interpretation of Don was their own - it was a different experiment. Every artist has his own thought process and we must respect it.”
Coming back to Ranangan that releases on May 11, Swwapnil Joshi is sure to floor you not only with his new look, but also with his act. Mark my words - he’s really going to be good at being a bad boy!