Actor Saanand Verma, who plays one of the most popular characters on Indian television, Anokhe Lal Saxena, in &TV sitcom Bhabiji Ghar Par Hain!, is gearing up for the release of his new film Pataakha, wherein he plays the role of Tharki Patel, a lecher who wants to get laid with either of the two female protagonists. The talented actor says that films are his first love and when maverick filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj signed him on for his directorial, he was on cloud nine. Just a few days ahead of the film’s release, our Mumbai correspondent, Mohnish Singh, talked to Saanand about his character, how he came about finding this role and how things change when a television actor makes a transition to films. Excerpts…

The trailer of your forthcoming film Pataakha has caught everyone’s attention. Could you please brief us about your character in this madcap drama?

My character is called Tharki Patel. Tharki means lecherous. So, I am that lecherous guy who wants to sleep either with Chhutki or Badki (played by Sanya Malhotra and Radhika Madan respectively). He is the richest man in the village, who tries to manipulate both girls’ father by using the power of his money. He tries to get things done that he desperately wants to get done.

How did this film happen to you? Who approached you for the role?

I was approached by the casting director. He basically called me for an audition. So, I went there and gave the audition. Later, I realized that it was for Vishal Bhardwaj’s film. Normally I do not do this, but this time around I gave a call back to the casting director and asked him what the status of my audition was. I was told that the movie had been deferred and had gone to the backseat and that Vishal sir was doing another film with Irrfan Khan. I was told that, at the moment, I should forget the audition that I had given. So, I tried to forget it.

What happened next?

Later, after six months or so, I got a call asking me if I can come for an audition. I asked which audition. The casting director told me that he wanted me to give the same audition which I had given earlier. So, I again went for the audition. I think Irrfan’s health was not good and that was the reason the film starring him went to the backseat. And this film Pataakha was back as the frontrunner. So, I again gave the audition. Again, I got a call for the third round of audition. They required more expressions. A new situation was given to me. After the third round of audition, I got a call, I guess, 15 days later, confirming my selection for the role of Tharki Patel by Vishal Bhardwaj. Vishal sir was extremely happy with my audition. I was on cloud nine when I came to know that I have been selected for a film which is being directed by Mr Vishal Bhardwaj.

How was it to work with Vishal Bhardwaj, one of the finest filmmakers in our country?

It was a divine experience, because I feel Vishal Bhardwaj is not just a filmmaker, he is not just a music composer, he is not just a writer, he is not just a producer, he is not just a poet, but he is a very divine human being. He is a very, very evolved human being. He is unlike any directors that I have worked with. I have worked with almost two hundred directors as I have done over two hundred fifty ad films. But this man called Vishal Bhardwaj has a very different creative mind that functions differently. He does not use foul language on sets. He is very sensitive about his cast and crew, be it actors, cinematographers, lightmen or spotboy. It’s an actor’s delight to work with Vishal Bhardwaj because he gives his actors a lot of freedom.

You are also doing a popular daily soap called Bhabiji Ghar Per Hain. So, how did you manage to shoot for the show and the film? Did you take some days’ off from the show, or you shot for it and the film simultaneously?

I was shooting for both the projects simultaneously. Moreover, the daily soap which I do has me in a supporting role. I am not in a lead role there. I don’t shoot for it on a daily basis. So, it is very easy for me to keep dabbling in films. I already had a lot of time on hand. Basically, my dream was to become a film actor. That was one of the reasons I took up this show because it did not need me every day. Frankly speaking, there were two reasons for me to do Bhabiji Ghar Per Hain. First, the character that I play in the show is very unique. As an actor, it was a great excitement and challenge for me to do the role of Saxena. So, that is one creative reason I did the so. The logical reason was that I knew that they would not need me for a lot of days. I would get a lot of free time every month to pursue my real dream which is to become a film actor.

What kind of difference do you see when a television actor makes a crossover to films?

When you are working on a television show, you have a very less time to prepare for your scenes. And when you are doing a feature film, in that case, you are narrated the entire script well in advance. The script is already there with you, and you are already living that character in your mind which is there in the script. So, you get a lot of preparation time for a role in a feature film. When you get a sufficient amount of preparation time, then definitely you will be happier creatively. You will do your job a thousand times better.

Also starring Sanya Malhotra, Radhika Madan and Sunil Grover, Pataakha releases on 28th September, 2018.