Sanjay Dutt’s most memorable performances are the ones where he has played morally complex characters, and looking back, the actor says it was his 1993 movie Khalnayak that helped him step out of his comfort zone and take on larger-than-life characters.
Dutt made a spectacular entry in Hindi cinema with 1981 film Rocky and later headlined films such as Vidhaata, Imaandaar, Jeete Hain Shaan Se, Ilaaka, Taaqatwar and Thaanedar. But playing Ballu in Subhash Ghai’s super hit Khalnayak gave him an opportunity to experiment with his choices, instead of restricting himself in good guy roles.
“It’s a risk that I took in my career when I played characters with different shades. It paid off because I was convinced that I could challenge myself as an actor. If I’m not convinced, then how will audiences be convinced? It was when I did Khalnayak that I realised that I should look for roles out of my comfort zone,” Dutt told PTI in an interview while discussing his roles in Daud, Daag: The Fire, Vaastav, Kaante and Musafir. His characters in these films were also larger-than-life figures, the 62-year-old actor said.
“I believe playing larger-than-life characters is an important phase in an actor’s life because the public love these characters. I have learned this during my 40 years long career. So I prefer doing these kinds of roles and I love them.”
He said that when he would feature in films alongside his contemporaries like Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff and Sunny Deol, the drive was always to grow as actors, something that’s missing in the current generation of actors.
“Actors today are very dedicated to their craft. They are not conscious. But with us — me, Jackie (Shroff) and Anil (Kapoor) — we were not insecure. I worked with everyone in the industry when I started out. Same goes for Anil and Jackie, and even Sunny.
“From Dilip (Kumar) sir to Amitji (Amitabh Bachchan), we worked with everyone. We were not insecure as we wanted to learn from these stalwarts. When I worked with Amitji, I was like, ‘I’m sharing screen space with him, what can I learn from him?’ This was our way of thinking when we were working. I believe this thought process should come back,” he added.
Dutt now stars in Kannada movie K.G.F: Chapter 2, the much-awaited follow up to 2019 hit K.G.F. Headlined by Kannada superstar Yash, the film will see Dutt in the role of Adheera, a character that was teased towards the end of the first movie. Dutt said it was out of the blue that the makers of the sequel approached him to play the main antagonist Adheera.
“I got a call one day and these people wanted to come and meet me. So they came and I was totally amazed by the character. I asked them how and why they thought of me playing Adheera in the movie. They told me that they want only me to play this role. This is a really exceptional character. Adheera is so strong as a character and I instantly said yes to it.”
Dutt revealed that K.G.F: Chapter Two was “the first ever offer that came from the South”. “I don’t know why (I was never approached before)… I believe there is no segmentation today as the whole industry is one big family, which is a good thing for Indian cinema. We now represent the Indian film industry.”
Talking about his character Adheera, the actor said the role is completely different from Kancha Cheena, the bald-headed antagonist of Hrithik Roshan-starrer Agneepath. “This character is as strong as Kancha Cheena was in Agneepath. But where the character is different is his unpredictable nature. He has a different look and a challenge. Adheera is out there to rightfully claim back KGF. He is right in his own way that he wants his kingdom back,” he said.
In the film’s trailer, Dutt looked extremely menacing and fierce as Adheera with braided hair and a mustachioed persona. The actor revealed that he has often looked for parts during his entire career where the character has a certain style statement. However, the process of getting the look right is often a challenge.
“I do search for characters that have a certain style, be it Ballu from Khalnayak, Ajju from Kaante, Billa from Musafir or Kancha Cheena from Agneepath. But it is always a challenge to get the look right. I remember, when I did Agneepath, the director told me that he wants me to go bald for the character. I was initially taken aback and told him how I can do that. They initially tried using prosthetics but it didn’t work out because of the hot weather at the time. It was then that I decided to shave my head. Here the challenge was to get tattoos and shlokas written on the head.”
Directed by Prashanth Neel and also starring Srinidhi Shetty, Raveena Tandon and Prakash Raj, K.G.F: Chapter Two will be released in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi on April 14.