January 16, 2021

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Sunil Grover: Tandaf was a new world to me as an actor

More than the audience, Sunil Grover is excited to see himself in a different avatar in Tandaf. The actor, who rose to fame with his comedies on TV, is set to play the cunning and ruthless character Gurpal in the Amazon Prime Video original series. Grover will be shown playing Summer (Saif Ali KhanThe most confident man, who has a dangerous and secret past.

In an exclusive chat with Indianexpress.comSunil Grover talked about getting out of his funny image, working on several stars, collaborating with director Ali Abbas Zafar, and more.

Excerpts from the conversation …

Tell us something about Tandav and your role.

First, I feel so happy and fortunate to be part of this beautiful show. It is a work of fiction based on the world of politics. Gurpal Chauhan is a completely different role than you would have seen me do but I can’t tell much about it.

As for Tandav, everyone is running for strength and the chair, and the show gives insight into what exactly is happening behind the curtains. It’s a dangerous drama but when you watch it, you realize that it’s very human, and then you’ll bond with it and interact with it.

Getting out of your comedic picture or working with such a superstar – what was most exciting to you?

Honestly, I didn’t think something like this would come my way. Ali called me and I was so excited, given that it was a new world to me. What made me more excited was the confidence he had that I could do something like this. I’ve had this list of things that I haven’t wanted to do for a long time. Given that Gurpal is a completely different part than I did, or was featured, Tandav was exciting to me. The cast of course is amazing, and I had a great time working with them. It’s always an enriching experience to be with these amazing actors. All I can hope for now is for the chemistry to translate well on screen, and for the audience to enjoy watching it.

When you work with such a large team, does the fear of getting lost in a crowd creep in your mind?

There is no fear at all. Instead of thinking about getting lost, I take it as a great opportunity to be part of something so cool. This is great for any actor. Also, one must trust the script and the makers. Gurpal is a very specific character, whom she stands by. Since it was so new to me, I’m sure the audience will notice that too.

It looks like you have most of the scenes with Saif Ali Khan. How was the experience working with him?

Yes, Gurpal belongs to the same party as Samar Pratap Singh (Khan’s character). It was great to work with him. He is a dedicated and passionate actor. Saif has done a lot of work but he has the energy of a newcomer. He knows the text and is always well prepared. Also, I remember even when other people were shooting their close-up shots, he would stay around to give cues. That was so cute and kind of him. I never felt like he was such a profound actor who saw the world. His new approach to his work was like learning for me.

It is your second collaboration with Ali Abaz Zafar. How was she working with him again?

He’s sarcastic as he was, there’s no change to that (laughs) It’s always cool working with him since he’s so friendly and easy-going. You can always have a healthy discussion with him. He is calm but has a lot of fun with his team. Also, Ali knows his script really well and designs it before he even starts filming. Hence, it becomes very easy for actors to perform his vision. Having worked with him earlier, I also share his strong trust factor, and I know whatever he will do will be good for me and the project.

What aspect of student politics will we see in Tindaf? What is your opinion on that?

The presentation will introduce the game of power, and how students and politics overlap in the medium in an interesting way. As for me, I did not understand the politics at the time, nor do I understand it now. I’ve always tried impersonation and speeches, and I still do the same. Nevertheless, I feel that the seed of politics has taken hold at this level, and we can all hope that the strength reaches the right hand. This is how they are trained to become the world leaders of the future.

There was a dialogue in the joke. Iss desh ko ek hi chiz chalati hai, rajneeti. Aur jo pradhan mantri hai wahi iss desh ka raja hai. Will there be any reference to the current government?

Not at all, Tindaf is set entirely in a fictional world. There is no reference to a political party. The line I mentioned was said from the character’s point of view. The show or I personally don’t believe in the same thing.

What does Tindaf mean to you?

It is a form of dance, and it is very aggressive. And we all use it as a metaphor to describe something that’s causing chaos. On the show, you’ll see how the Hunger Power Game leads to the dance of pain.

If you had the opportunity to play the role of a political figure, who would you choose?

If you ask me to imitate someone’s behavior, I can do that but I’d like to play a fictional character. The story and the character must be exciting to me. However, if I could star in the biography of our historic heroes and leaders, I would love to do so.

2020 saw some amazing content showcased on the web space. As an actor, how exciting is the moderator for you?

It is a new medium that is growing very quickly. Also, there is a lot of freedom, creativity, and wisdom in terms of time. The factory can tell a longer story, thus it gives better room for the actors to play their characters. However, it also comes with a huge challenge of holding the audience’s interest for a long time. It’s a challenge mostly for writers, and then of course, actors and directors. Over the past couple of years we’ve been able to see some amazing content and shows, and I hope you all like Tandav too.

The digital medium was recently placed under the auspices of the I&B Department. Do you think this could curb their freedom?

We will have to abide by any new regulations that come our way. Personally, I feel that things should be left to the public’s discretion. They know what they want to see and should have a choice. There is some content, this of course, that can have a negative impact in our society, but other than that, I think the stories that can make a difference should be well promoted. Stories that show the mirror to the community, and can help us gain some progressive ideas. I think there were a lot of topics that were taboo but through the web series, it became a discussion at the dinner table. This is what we need now.

Produced by Himanshu Kishan Mehra and Ali Abbas Zafar, the nine-episode political drama also includes Dimple Kapadia, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Dino Moria, Komod Mishra, Gohar Khan, Amir Dastoor, Muhammad. Zeeshan Ayoub, Kritika Kamra, Sarah Jane Dias, Sandia Meridol, Anup Soni, Hiten Tijwani, Paresh Bajuja and Chonali Nagrani and others It will start streaming on Amazon Prime Video from January 15th.