A new kind of maverick policeman rides into town

FAIR COP: Barun Sobti
in Halahal
FAIR COP: Barun Sobti in Halahal



HE MAY have had a rollercoaster career since finding TV superstardom with smash-hit serial Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon eight years ago, but Barun Sobti has always delivered memorable performances.

The talented star has mixed up web serials, TV dramas and films with challenging roles that have shown off his impressive range as an actor. His latest project is crime movie Halahal, which is inspired by true events and sees him play an unpredictable police officer, helping a distraught father find the truth behind his daughter’s death. The thriller and human drama rolled into one, available on Eros Now, is another impressive chapter in the actor’s career.

Eastern Eye caught up with Barun Sobti to talk about his new film Halahal, acting and future hopes.

How have you coped with the whole lockdown situation?
I am actually a private person, so staying indoors was not a big problem; also, I have a one-year, three-month-old daughter now, and it was a great incentive for me to spend time with her. The only thing is terrible things are happening around the world and that is one thing you have to cope with, but then what can you do.

What attracts you to a project?
Whenever I choose a project, it is only on one criteria and that is the script. Sometimes things are exciting on a synopsis, premise or some gimmick. So, they sound exciting at that time, but eventually it all boils down to the script. My criteria is that when I get a script in my hand and it’s compelling enough for me to finish in one go, that means it’s worth doing.

What did you like about your new film Halahal in particular?
Apart from the fact it was a gripping read, both the primary characters had interesting psychologies behind their actions. There was a reason why they were behaving in a certain way. That to me was intriguing and challenging to portray. So these two things convinced me to do this project.

You play a police officer in Halahal, but it is hard to tell if he is a good or bad guy from the trailer. What is he?
I can’t put a finger on it, to be honest with you. What I would say is that he is a colourful cop.

You have a mighty impressive moustache in Halahal. How did you decide the look of your character?
It took a while to grow that moustache actually. The producer, Zeishan (Quadri), said he wanted me to sport a moustache, but at the same time, I get growth on my face that goes out of control after a while. So I told him I won’t shave for this amount of time, and when we land on the set you can model the look. We tried a few things and this look was the right fit for a character like Yusuf. It wasn’t about what looks good on me. It’s a look fit for a cop in this story.

Barun Sobti with Sachin Khedekar in Halahal

Is it fair to say this is one of the most unpredictable characters you have played and how did you approach it?
Yes Asjad, I would say that. I, as a human being, am pretty much aware of my surroundings and actually catch up very fast. So that is one thing I don’t exercise in real life because it can offend people. But, as a person, I am aware of what is happening, like where a joke can be cracked and Zeishan knows that. So we figured that we would inculcate this thing with my character.

Tell us more…
Usually, we don’t go beyond professions when we are figuring people out. More than the cop, we had to figure out what kind of human being he was. Like I said, we had to figure out why he was doing what he was. Why he has reached this place in his life right now. So that was a longer debate more than the mannerisms.

How much of the film is a human drama and how much is it a police procedural thriller?
A connection only comes when you can relate to the character you are watching and stop seeing the actors performing it, so of course, it is equally a human drama and how it’s narrated as well. It is the journey of two people who have never met before and that happens all the time. It’s the story of two people who are stuck in an event, which is much larger than them. My favourite moment in the trailer is when you go to arrest a car full of people alone and they run away.

What is your own favourite scene from the film?
I actually like that one. I will give you a little about the writing genius of Zeishan connected to that. I actually didn’t have that line in the script you see in the trailer, ‘police have surrounded you from all sides’. That was not there in the script. Because I was a solo guy, it sounds funny. That line was added after I said to Zeishan this scene can be potentially funny, give me one line that will make people laugh. He just gave me that line.

How does acting in a film compare to a web series or TV?
It is just the same, except the pressure of churning out more footage is not there. Apart from that, it is exactly the same.

What do you enjoy watching as an audience member?
I love watching documentaries actually. It is the age of very good content right now with respect to documentaries. I also love watching crime dramas. It is getting very intense in the world; so I like watching lighter stuff as well. You have always been unpredictable.

What is the plan going forward and do you have a dream role?
I am going to keep following my instincts, which has worked pretty well so far. In terms of dream roles, I don’t have anything in mind, to be honest with you. I don’t think like that, as I am not a firm believer in manifestations. I am sure the way my career is shaping up now – figuring out the abilities I have – much more difficult and interesting characters are yet to come. But, no, I don’t have a dream role.

Who is your own hero?
(Thinks) I think my mom and dad. They have brought me up pretty well, and as I am growing, I realise whatever little things they have taught me, when I was young, went on to form who I am. So yes, my parents.

Today, as an actor what inspires you?
I am a pretty well motivated guy to be honest with you, so I am not looking out for inspiration, but what really excites me as an actor is a good script.

Stardom hasn’t changed you, what keeps you so grounded?
It is my family! They know how to put me in my place.

Apart from family, what are your big passions away from work?
I love reading books. Reading transports me to new places and gives me that creative drive. So, I like that. I also love playing football and cricket, but there is not a lot of those happening these days. I like anything that gets your brain going, so I love doing crosswords, puzzles and stuff like that.

Why do you love being an actor?
I think a lot of people become actors to be popular and well accepted, but I think they are the wrong reasons. I think an individual should become an actor if they are interested in psychologies, and I am very much interested in understanding that and portraying it. So that is what excites me about being an actor.

Why should we watch Halahal?
There is not an answer that I can give which will make it compelling enough for you to watch it. It is your decision, but let me say that it will be a very interesting watch.

Finally, would you give a message for your fans?
I think at the stage that I am in my career, I really value those who have stuck with me and kept believing in me. I am extremely proud to be churning out content like this because I proved to everyone that you guys were not wrong.

Halahal is available to stream on www.erosnow.com