Sohum Shah: I’m a greedy actor and want to dabble in everything
‘I forayed into production by chance’
VERSATILE actor Sohum Shah has had great moments in his career, including award-winning film masterpieces Ship of Theseus (2013) and Tumbbad (2018), which he produced and played a lead role in.
The multi-talented star has showed off his impressive acting in a range of films, along with acclaimed web series like Maharani. Someone who concentrates on quality over quantity, this has given him an impressive body of work and makes him stand out from other actors.
Eastern Eye caught up with one of India’s finest talents to discuss his journey, impact of films he produced, future hopes, inspirations, and something not many people know about him.
How do you reflect on your acting journey?
It’s honestly been a roller-coaster ride and quite frankly I wouldn’t have it any other way. It was peppered with struggle and that’s what made every small win even more special. I came from a small town and grew up on Bollywood films, so never imagined I’d be working in them and having people appreciate my work. I definitely feel a huge sense of gratitude, but there’s miles and miles to go.
Which of your characters has been closest to your heart?
Vinayak from Tumbbad and Bheema from Maharani will be special roles to me because I grew up watching films that were larger than life. Having received the opportunity to play these big characters, with impactful dialogues and gripping stories felt like a major stepping stone in my career.
Which character challenged you most?
Bheema Bharti, my character in the Maharani series was quite challenging both physically and mentally. Whether it was my look, having to change my physique for the part, the dialect, accent, or dialogue delivery, it all took a lot of work. During the prep for the second season, I got other projects, but didn’t take them up because I was dedicated to Bheema. I didn’t want to disturb the headspace or the look that my character required and Bheema’s character is layered.
How much did the success of Ship Of Theseus and Tumbbad mean to you?
The success of Ship of Theseus and Tumbbad meant a great deal. As an artist, it’s like validation when the audience appreciates your work. These films gave me those moments where I felt seen, and people recognised the effort and passion behind my craft.
Did you expect these films to make such a big impact?
As an artist I try to not to judge a film or pre-empt its success or failure. I don’t overthink it. That’s the only way I can give it my all. That’s an actor’s responsibility to deliver the best performance and leave the rest in the hands of the audience. I did these films because I believed in their potential, and they excited the artist in me. I’m happy that they went on to make the impact they did.
Will you be producing more films, as you are clearly very good at it?
I forayed into production by chance. It was never part of my plans. At that point of time nobody was making Ship of Theseus and Tummbad, so I went ahead and produced them myself. Since it isn’t my main profession, I’m very selective about my choices as a producer. If I want to produce a film, the project must have something special about it.
What is the plan going forward?
The plan is to do everything I possibly can – do all kinds of roles and explore all genres. I’m a greedy and impatient actor and want to dabble in everything from romance, comedy, horror, thriller, action, and everything else, you name it.
But do you have a dream role?
I have many dream roles. Like I mentioned it’s hard for a greedy and hungry actor like me to
just have one.
Who would you love to work with?
I hope to have the opportunity to work with as many people as I possibly can, because there is always a new takeaway from every project. I would love to work with everyone from SS Rajamouli to Sanjay Leela Bhansali. I am also a huge Shah Rukh Khan fan, so would love to work with him in a film.
What do you enjoy watching as an audience?
Honestly there isn’t a particular genre but what really excites me is a great story – A gripping narrative, a film that has something to say, is a film I’d enjoy watching.
Tell us something about you that not many people know?
An interesting anecdote that not many people know and is testimony to my love for cinema, would be that there was a time in my life when I would travel 30-40 kms to catch a glimpse of Manoj Bajpayee shooting at Sri Ganganagar, my native place.
What inspires you?
Great performances, great personalities and great stories inspire me. If you look around, you’d find inspiration at every corner and I’m someone who is always looking.
Finally, why do you love being an actor?
I love being an actor because it allows me to have many lives, live different characters, look at things from different perspectives and allows me to enjoy who I am to the fullest. Every day is challenging, as it is exciting. And I love the exhilaration it brings.