With Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion, Samir Soni is now all set to hit the silver screen once again, this time for his bold move to play a gay designer without any qualms. With research as the key and the temperament to be as authentic as possible, without offending or hurting any community unintentionally, Samir Soni is clear that it is his histrionics that should talk. A tete-a-tete with Samir Soni...
Why did you pick up a role that was rejected by many? More so as it was a gay character….
I am an actor and any role that comes to me and is challenging is exciting to me I loved the character that director Madhur Bhandarkar offered me. The understanding was clear. The gayness of the character would not override his personality.
How did you design the look of the character…
It was a very interesting look for my character, Rahul Arora. He would wear mascara but would have stubble. And we had to draw that healthy balance.
How did you play the character? Was there any particular person you looked up to for this character?
There was a lot of research that went into the role. Madhur and I attended as many fashion shows as we could in Mumbai and Delhi even during the shoot. The pre-show interaction of the designer and the models and the post-show parties were very important.
Some designers even allowed us to be there in the rehearsals to see the relationship between the model and the designer. Madhur is a stickler for accuracy and that was important. Even during the shoot, leading ramp choreographers and models -- someone or the other was always there, every detail was taken care of. Authenticity was the focus. We do not want to offend anyone.
Would the designers be themselves when they knew that you were looking for clues to play one of them?
Well we were quite discreet and never let anyone know that we were observing and later would exchange notes on how to shape the character.
What was exciting about playing a gay designer?
It was exciting on several levels. Firstly I had never played such character before and I don’t think anyone would expect me to play it. Also, the character was so beautifully etched out that it would be any actor’s dream. But most importantly, the challenge of playing a gay designer convincingly, without stereo typing it and hoping the masses accept him and see beyond his sexual orientation. For the latter I was lucky to have Madhur guiding me and at the same time giving me the space to experiment.
He was a designer and just that his sexual orientation happened to be different. I have friends who are gay and thy talk of their boyfriends the same way I would talk about a girlfriend. There is nothing different about them otherwise. Mean, there are gays that you don’t know are gays unless you were told. It was the essence of the character that was exciting and you can say that I got more than my share of compliments from the females and the males.
To quote her she’s “over worked and under-paid”. Jokes aside she’s a fine actor and a very sensitive girl. Though, most of the film I kept my distance, firstly because I’m comfortable with that and secondly because I thought it would help our scenes, since my character is this successful fashion designer and she an up coming model. I wanted to make that equation on screen come out strong. Whenever I saw her I wanted to see a struggling model and the successful actress that she is.
You are perceived as snobbish due to your introvertedness?
Yes I am an introvert and that’s the way I have always been since childhood. From time to time I do make the effort to be more outgoing and friendly but find it too exhausting and just cant sustain it, more so at work. I keep a lot to myself during shoots unless the scene requires otherwise. Sometimes people do misunderstand that but unfortunately I can’t help it. Also, I’d rather conserve my energy and give a hundred percent to my work. I find it difficult to live with myself if I’m unable to give it all whether it’s a film, a play or a 30 second add.
How was it working with Madhur Bhandarkar?
Madhur is the warmest nicest guy I have met as a director. I have never met a director who is so hassle free and easy going, always open for suggestions. And I have never seen him stressed or shout or anything on the set. He never says pack up. He says Vande Mataram. That is his sign off statement.
There is Sanjay Gupta’s Alibaug and an Englsh arthouse film My Friend Dragonman. But for now, I am awaiting Fashion. I think I have done a good job in this film and the critic in me agrees too!