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I've Done Dharma, YRF Films But 30 Producers Ain't Lining Up on My Door, Yet I'm Grateful: Angad Bedi

I've Done Dharma, YRF Films But 30 Producers Ain't Lining Up on My Door, Yet I'm Grateful: Angad Bedi

In this interview, Angad Bedi opens up about stepping into Anshuman Saxena's shoes, the online backlash that 'Gunjan Saxena' received before its release and more.

Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, the biographical movie about India’s first female Air Force officer to fly in a combat zone during the 1999 Kargil War, released last week to rave reviews as it managed to be more than an inspirational patriotic movie with terrific performances from Pankaj Tripathi, Janhvi Kapoor, and Angad Bedi, who played the trickiest part in the film.

As Anshuman Saxena, Angad brings a refreshing take on his conflicted character of a protective brother, who is walking on a tightrope throughout the film. "It's a great coming of age of this character as we follow Gunjan Saxena's story," says Angad, who feels fortunate to have played a role like that.

In this interview, the actor, best known for National Film Award winner Pink, Inside Edge, and Tiger Zinda Hai, opens up about stepping into Anshuman's shoes, the online backlash that 'Gunjan Saxena' received before its release and how the global pandemic has made him grateful for everything that he has.

Excerpts:

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Your performance in Gunjan Saxena is getting rave reviews from all quarters...

It feels great. As an actor, you always try to do things that are completely out of the box with the only hope that it will find acceptance. So the biggest challenge is first to take up something which is different and gives you an out of body experience and the second thing is to be convincing in it. The third thing is to battle the nerves prior to the release, especially the reviews. So, it's a first moral victory.

One thing about films based on true events is that those involved can react to what you portray on the screen. Does that impact your approach as an actor?

I really like such complex roles because sometimes when you are in between there is room to perform, at the same time, people see you in a different light as a performer. Usually, these kinds of parts are very difficult to portray on screen because there is neither glory nor gratification. Anshuman is neither with Gunjan nor against her. It's a very tricky place to be in where he respects his father and sister but he disagrees with them. There's a beautiful scene in the movie where Anshuman voices all his insecurities in front of his father and we as human beings are insecure people and there is nothing wrong in accepting that fact. It's been a very tough part for me to portray. There is no crutch with Anshuman Saxena. He is not helped by anybody. He is just voicing his insecurities and fears for his own baby sister that he has. It's the fear of losing his sister that he is unknowingly holding her back until the time he realises that she has found her wings and can look after not just herself but the entire country as an officer.

So, you are saying that Anshuman's whole conflict is purely out of concern for his sister?

In the film, set in the '90s, it does showcase the sexism of society but Anshuman technically doesn't believe in that. He is more concerned about the sexism that exists and he doesn't want his sister to be the front-bearer of it. He is trying to protect her from that sexism. He knows that his father is not showing her the real picture and that is his battle with his father and his sister. He is not being a sexist but protecting her from the sexism that exists.

How has it been for you sitting through these three-four months, looking at all the news stories around you as well?

My dad has taught me that the place you work in is the place of worship because it brings food to your table and you run your household because of this profession. Mumbai has given you so much love and accepted you for your talent. Even if you are different, there's room for everyone. Our country is known because of sports and cinema. There is a struggle in every field not just in cinema. No field is easy to be in. You have to work hard and keep yourself relevant and only you can change that. But if you want life to be very simple and be a bed of roses then perhaps you are in the wrong profession.

Today, it's unfortunate that people are washing their dirty linen in public. It's not required. It's very easy to play a blame game. A lot of people are also using it as a platform to make headlines for the media and I feel that is really shameful. Today, we are in a situation where so much has happened. This pandemic is teaching us so many things-- at least show some empathy! Why are y'all fighting against each other and pulling each other down? This is not that time. Here you want to celebrate Independence Day and be proud of your country but at the same time, you behave so badly. So what independence is this? People talk about freedom of speech but if that speech is harming somebody and breaking somebody's heart then that is not freedom of speech. I feel that this industry has given you money, fame, career, and now y'all dissing the same career? Why would you that?

Your film Gunjan Saxena was also subjected to online hate, with many calling for its boycott...

Gunjan Saxena is not just Janhvi's or mine but everybody's film, from the lightman, DoP to spot boy. It is India's film. Once the film is out, we don't own the film. The country owns it. The people own it.

Tomorrow, if someone will say that you are talented but we are boycotting you; how is this fair? You will take away someone's right? People loved me in Pink and Inside Edge. They appreciated my work in Tiger Zinda Hai and made it a blockbuster. It was Salman (Khan) sir's film. If you boycott Gunjan Saxena for this reason (nepotism), where will we go? Judge the performance and the actor, not the person. She (Janhvi) is also somebody's daughter. Everybody is working hard and deserving to be where they are. I've been almost eight years in the business. I'm waiting for every film of mine to give me my next film, but that's my struggle to stay relevant and keep on reinventing myself. It's my struggle to convince people to watch me again and again. I can also say, 'I've been a part of two Dharma films, one YRF project, two excel projects; I have done a FOX film; I've been a part of Salman sir's film; I have done Pink then why are not 30 producers lining up on my door?' We need to start being grateful and stop complaining.