Shatrughan Sinha in conversation with Rachel Dwyer
Official JLF at Southbank Blogger
Veteran Bollywood actor and Member of Parliament, Shatrughan Sinha, was interviewed by Rachel Dwyer about his recent biography, Anything But Khamosh, written by Bharathi S. Pradhan. As described in the book, Sinha was one of the earliest FTII graduates to enter the film industry without any support from an influential person. Remarkably, he was also the first student to be selected to study at FTII from his home state Bihar.
Sinha explained that he had wanted Bharathi Pradhan to write his biography because she was both a dear family friend and an accomplished journalist. Anything But Khamosh chronicles the challenges Sinha faced as a struggling actor, the highs of his career, his personal life, and his decision to delve into politics at the peak of his success as an actor. Sinha stressed that more than anything else, the book was about his life as a self-made man, and he hoped it would inspire his readers.
Sinha is the one of the most famous villains in Indian cinema. The actor remarked that he had no choice but to be a villain, because of his unconventional looks. He revealed that initially, a lot of people had suggested cosmetic surgery, or that he shave off his moustache, or change his name to be more appealing to audiences. However, he was more influenced by Mani Kaul, his senior at FTII, who persuaded him that people would remember his name, as well as Dev Anand, the famous Hindi film actor, who helped him become confident about his appearance, and that he should be accepted as he is: “good, bad, or ugly”.
Sinha spoke of his pride in the fact that once he learned to accept himself, so too did his audience, such that for the first time in Bollywood history, people were cheering for the villain rather than the hero. He stated that his unique style, dialogue delivery, and ease with acting was what appealed to viewers, and because of this support, he had been able to then shift from playing the villain to playing the hero.
Dwyer asked Sinha about his special skill with language in cinema, calling him the “master of accents”. Sinha said he enjoyed dialogue delivery and could memorise up to twenty pages of dialogue at a time. He reaffirmed his belief in “clean language, clean image, and clean politics,” adding that he was against foul language in films.
Sinha cited Shubhash Ghai, Vijay Anand, and Yash Chopra as some of his favourite direcrors, and described Dulal Guha as the “actor’s director.” He spoke of his gratitude to Gautam Ghosh for helping him develop his acting skills in Antarjali Yatra, and said he regreted that he had never had the chance to work with Satyajit Ray and KR Asif, due to unfortunate circumstances.
In conclusion,Dwyer asked Sinha to comment on the recent controversy regarding the students’ strike against the appointment of a new chairman of FTII. Sinha pointed out that protocol meant he was not allowed to be the chairman, despite the students’ requests. He added that he was indebted to FTII for his education, and that though the students have his love and support, he also respected the nature of the Government’s commitment, since it had already issued the appointment.