HOW VERSATILE ACTOR AMIT SADH USED HARD WORK TO CARVE OUT HIS OWN PATH IN A COMPETITIVE INDUSTRY
by ASJAD NAZIR
IT HAS never been tougher for an outsider to make it in Hindi cinema and those who do break through need to have outstanding talent.
One actor, who battled through the challenges and gained a reputation as a powerful performer is Amit Sadh and he is regularly called upon to add weight to high-profile projects. The naturally gifted actor has mixed up movies with an outstanding turn in Amazon Prime series Breathe and its newly released sequel Breathe: Into The Shadows. His forthcoming projects include hotly anticipated biopic Shakuntala Devi, powerful drama series Avrodh and gangster movie Yaara.
Eastern Eye caught up with Amit Sadh to for a searingly honest conversation about his acting journey, being an outsider, new series, hopes and late actor Sushant Singh Rajput, with whom he worked in both their breakout project Kai Po Che.
How do you look back on your acting journey?
It’s been a tough journey with lots of hard work and sacrifices, but it’s been worth it. Firstly, as an outsider you have to work twice as hard to even get acknowledged in an industry which I feel is closed. An industry that employs friends and family over talent! We live in a society that values ‘ready made’ people. By this I mean someone who has hit life’s milestones, like having a car, money, house and ‘proper job’, over someone with good qualities as a person. People don’t know how to judge good qualities and use superficial ones to judge character, and whom to love and accept. This has been the toughest part of my journey.
Tell us more…
This crushes a lot of people and destroys dreams. It makes artists crave attention over actually paying attention to what they should be doing, which is to create good art. They do whatever they can to just get attention and love. I guess the silver lining in my struggle is that I have been able to spend time alone to develop myself as a person. As Goethe said ‘talent is developed in privacy’. I fully believe that the alone time I’ve had has made me into the person I am today.
You have established yourself…
We are an outsider when we are unprepared, but the moment we put in work and fix ourselves, start the process, give time to craft, to humanity and feelings, we start becoming an insider. So let’s just end the debate of an insider and an outsider here.
Which of your roles has been closest to your heart?
I’ve given a part of myself to every role, so it’s tough to say, but if I really had to pick one then it would be Omi in Kai Po Che. Omi was challenging because he was the opposite to my disposition in real life. He showed the flaws of society and was blinded by this mentality of following your own ‘tribe’, despite what is right and wrong. He gets himself into a predicament where he regrettably kills his best friend. I feel that’s so prevalent in today’s society. Rather than stepping back and looking at a situation for what it is, we get so caught up with our ‘tribe’, ‘our people’ that it fogs our judgement, and leads to destruction. Had he empathised and tried understanding, they would have come to a better resolution, rather than be erratic and violent.
How much has being able to balance film and TV helped you as an actor?
To me acting is acting. The medium doesn’t matter to me much. I try my best to lend parts of myself to every character in the exact same way. I just turn up on the set and try telling the truth.
How much did the success of your Amazon Prime series Breathe mean to you?
It means a lot when you do something and it is appreciated. I think it’s human nature to want to be loved and build connection. I really appreciate the love I have got from fans globally and the connection I’ve made with them. I am truly humbled by it. And it makes me happy when people not only enjoy it, but it affects them in a positive manner.
What can we expect from the second series Breathe: Into The Shadows?
A lot of excitement, plot twists and surprises. The characters are multi-layered with so much humanity, which people can relate to. We consume art to see ourselves, and with this season, the characters will take you on a journey that you can really relate to, whichever side you’re on. The whole team has done a fantastic job and it’s well worth the wait!
How has your character evolved since the first series?
Without giving too much away, this season we see a different side of Kabir. He’s had time to deal with the very recent death of his daughter. He is back at his best and this time he is a different animal. It is a new case, so expect an intense chase.
What is your own favourite moment in the second season?
The kind of involvement and stakes I have with Breathe make it very difficult for me to choose a favourite moment. The whole dimension and crisis every character struggles with is one of the big victories and attributes for me. Full credit for this should go to the writers. In terms of a scene, there is one where both Avinash (Abhishek Bachchan) and Kabir Sawant talk about their daughters. It just looks like two fascinating minds and complex beings discussing and showing their soft side and how daughters impact that. For me that was special.
Does your approach change between film and a web series?
No! Like I said, acting is acting for me, the medium doesn’t matter much.
You must be happy that Breathe opened the door for more thriller web series to be produced by big streaming sites?
Breathe was something new in the online streaming domain, when we first released it and I’m glad that its success has brought forward more shows of the same genre. Amazon has a fantastic team that does such a great job of creating content and marketing it.
You worked with late actor Sushant Singh Rajput in both of your breakthrough film Kai Po Che. What are your fondest memories of him?
He was a great artist, and the memories that I share of the time when we were filming together for Kai Po Che are very private and fond. I will cherish them for life. The amazing work that Sushant did in such a short span is something I will always remember and draw inspiration from.
As an outsider, what kept you motivated in your days of struggle?
The need to share and prove a point to the world that if you work hard, work on your craft and develop your talent so much that they cannot ignore you, has always kept me going.
Do you have a dream role?
The story of the founder of Bose, Amar Bose. His story is inspiring and achievements are incredible. What he has done for the world needs to be recognised. People all around the world use his products, including myself, but no one knows his story or who he was. Also, it’s about time we create movies that show what Asia has done for the world, rather than be depicted as ‘side dishes’ in movies. I want to do a movie where we are the main course.
You have worked with great actors, but who have you enjoyed working with the most?
I’ve loved working with them all. I have been lucky to be part of projects that have had some incredible talent. I have learned so much from everyone I have worked with. But if you really need me to drop some names, then most recently I have enjoyed working with Nithya Menen. She is in season two of Breathe. Now, I can’t go into too much detail as to why I loved working with her, otherwise, I would kinda give it away a little. But as a person, she is an incredible human being.
What have you done to survive this Covid-19-imposed lockdown?
It’s been a blessing. I’ve spent time alone working on myself, slowing down completely and processing life events, which have taught me so much. Sometimes, we are so busy in life that we don’t even get to really think about what is going on around us or to us. It’s important to reflect. It’s allowed me to read a lot more, and I have also taken up writing, which has been very therapeutic.
What inspires you?
People who work for the betterment of society! I feel everyone (hopefully) now really appreciates key workers. The grocery store workers, bin men, doctors, nurses, cleaners, etc. Each and every single one of them is the real hero in society and without them we won’t survive a day. So I want to thank all of them from the bottom of my heart.
Why should we watch the Amazon web series Breathe: Into The Shadows?
(Laughs) Hopefully, everyone would have finished every other show on Prime and they’ll wanna watch something new! Just kidding! If you liked Breathe season one, it’s a must watch. If you haven’t seen Breathe season one, then watch it and you will want to watch season two!
Why do you love to be an actor?
I love being an actor because it enables me to interpret life and society in such a way that it affects people for the better. It inspires people to do better and become better people. I want to be at one with audiences and be an answer for my viewer. An answer to whatever they are going through, and we can both work together to make the world a better place. Through my work, I want to awaken audiences in the hope they become leaders in changing society for the better.