Actor Tushar Pandey’s zeal to learn new things keeps him on his toes
If anyone drew the deepest sympathy as a character in Prakash Jha’s debut and much-controversial web series Aashram, then it has to be the naively endearing young man, Satti. Played to perfection by this bright spark of talent called Tushar Pandey, the gradual transformation of Satti — a poor, repressed and much-humiliated dalit man — from a practical, hardworking small-town fellow, who’s protective about his younger sister, to a person falling for the trappings of an unscrupulous religious leader, made the audiences happy, resentful, angry and tearful, all at the same time.
With the second part of Aashram’s season one having been released just a couple of days back, the audience can’t stop raving about Babaji (played by Bobby Deol) and the rest of the ensemble cast, especially Satti. For Tushar, it was his interest in learning new things that got him drawn to acting. An eager participant in his school’s extracurricular activities, Tushar’s inclination towards acting was discovered during his years in Kirori Mal college where he was an active member of the famed theatre society, The Players.
After graduation, Pandey got a chance in National School of Drama and further honed his skills at London International School of Performing Arts. We had a chat with Tushar — a proud product of sheer hard work — who is also playing one of the key roles in the upcoming episodic film, Homecoming directed by Soumyajit Majumdar. Excerpts:
Since your debut in 2015, Aashram and Chhichore are the two projects for which you have drawn attention. Do you think the struggle is more for outsiders?
I don’t see it like that. In any profession, patience and confidence are the two most important prerequisites to survive and thrive. I am very particular about the kind of work I associate with and do what makes me happy. It’s important to have a wholesome training to understand what it needs to be an actor so that you can perform well when you get an opportunity, which takes time to come.
You have always been closely associated with theatre, You taught at NSD and helped set up the Drama School in Mumbai. Are you doing any new theatre projects?
I have directed a few plays and have been acting in Shikhandi since last year. But right now, I am not taking up any new projects since I like doing a thing at a time.
You look so convincing in the role of Satti in Aashram. Tell us how you prepared for the same?
All of us have seen or heard how superstition or blind faith can manipulate people. I tried to put all those elements together and bring in a bit of physical transformation too. I maintained an unkempt hair, got the nuances of the language and accent correct besides understanding Satti’s psychology.
Also, the kind of faith that filmmaker Prakash Jha reposes on actors is incredible. Since I am trained in physical theatre and other modes of acting, I try to incorporate a mix of a lot of techniques to bring out a part’s essence.
Tell us about your role in Homecoming?
It’s a wonderful character and it’s about friends who used to do theatre together. It’s also a homage to the beautiful city of Kolkata.
Many, right now juggling.