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Amit Sial: “I badly wanted to break away from the kind of antagonist roles that were being offered to me”

Actor Amit Sial is best known for his roles in Inside Edge, Mirzapur, Maharani, and Jamtara.



Amit Sial

“My theory is simple. If I read something and it hits me, only then I’ll do it,” says actor Amit Sial who is known for his roles in Inside Edge, Mirzapur, Maharani, and Jamtara. Sial’s latest film Yellow Bus co-starring Tannishtha Chatterjee had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and its Asia Premiere at the recently concluded Jio MAMI Film Festival. In an exclusive chat with Cine Blitz, Sial talked about Yellow Bus, preparing for his role, and his acting journey so far.

How did you react to this story and character when you first heard it?

Amit Sial: See, there were two familiar names attached to the film before even I read the script, which were Guneet Monga and Tannishtha Chatterjee. Everyone knows that if Guneet is producing something, then it must be something good only. Plus, I had seen Tannishtha’s work. She’s a fabulous actor. Just to have this opportunity then led to reading the script, which completely moved me and shattered me. Obviously, it was a very easy decision to make that I wanted to do this film.

Losing your child is probably the worst thing that one could experience in their life. How do you prepare for such a character?

Amit Sial: The script was so tight and so powerful in itself, and I completely knew that I was in safe hands when it came to the director of the film, Wendy Bednarz. Because the script had touched her and it was her baby, so it touched all of us so that we all came together to make this film happen.

To work on a character like this, you’ll have to churn something inside of you. I didn’t have any direct references because I did not have a child then. But as Indians, we are always very close with our families and our extended families. So, you have to take yourself to a place where you have to think about how you would react if something terrible happened to the kid in the family. What helped really was that because we were all together in a different country for a good 35-40 days, we all were together. I’m talking about the cast of the film, the two kids, Tannishtha and me.

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So, we were all hanging out together, spending time together. It automatically leads to a very personal space. You know things about each other that in any otherwise situation, you probably wouldn’t. For example, if you’re shooting in India, especially in Mumbai, you go for shooting and then you come back at the end of the day. You’re not spending 24/7 together.

But it was an altogether different experience. So, I and Tannishtha genuinely got very close with the girls. And that really helped me a lot while exploring the scenes that we shot. So, it was not that difficult at all because we actually started, and we actually fell in love with those two girls that were working with us. So, it was a fantastic experience.

The film deals with the feeling of loss. Do you have that fear of losing someone? Do you think about it often?

Amit Sial: Brother, it may sound quite awkward, but the thing is, as actors we are constantly going inside our hearts and minds and trying to reference these kinds of characters. Especially when you realize that this cannot look superficial at all.

It needs to be felt by you. Only then the audience will feel it. I don’t know how many times I have thought about losing my mother, wife, friends, brother, and father. I think as actors we constantly keep doing this because we need a reference point. But again, to reiterate, everything was there in the script. It was all about getting the script, imbibing the script in your system, and then automatically things started to show.

Yellow Bus had its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Any reaction to the film that moved you?

Amit Sial: I couldn’t attend the TIFF premiere because I was busy with other shoots. But at TIFF, I know that we got a huge and very warm response from the audience.

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Waiting is an inevitable part of an actor’s life till you ‘make it’. How did you deal with that phase in your life?

Amit Sial: Yeah, there is no one thing that makes you sail through. You have to go through the pangs of pain and frustration and angst and all of those things. But either it can break you or it can make you even more mentally stronger.

I think, fortunately, the latter part happened to me. It made me stronger, even stronger mentally. Because when you start looking at your life closely in times like these when you’re struggling to make a foothold or get something that makes you get noticed.

Whenever the attitude of giving up used to enter my system, I would fortunately get some work which would take me out of that. So, that was really a magical part of my life. It was as if destiny was conspiring – give him something to hang on to so that he doesn’t give up.

When these kinds of things start happening, you realize that you have to be patient because external factors are out of your control. You can’t do anything about it. The only thing you can control is yourself. So, the attitude of giving up, whenever it used to sneak in, then you get into the practice of telling yourself, you don’t have to give up. You just have to wait a little bit longer for your time to come. And it comes. I just kept working on my craft. I kept working on myself. I started doing theatre again. So, you have to keep your mind busy because the mind is a very dangerous thing. If you let it go to the dark alleys, it will take you to even darker alleys. So, you just need to be positive and keep at it.

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Which project of yours has been instrumental in shaping your career path the way it has shaped up?

Amit Sial: When it comes to popularity, it was definitely Inside Edge because it was such a new thing. I think it was probably the first OTT show in India. I think that changed the game for me completely. Then I started to get good shows and I started enjoying my work. And since that cycle starts, then it obviously builds positivity inside your system. You’re not hung up about where the money is going to come from. Where the hell would I pay my rent from? So, when all of those things are taken care of, then you automatically start growing. As they say, nothing succeeds like success. Success, for me, is exactly this only – I am able to do what I want to do.

Are you getting offers of better roles than earlier?

Amit Sial: Offers keep coming but obviously, you can’t do everything. My theory is simple. If I read something and it hits me, only then I’ll do it. Sometimes I’ve done work for money, but I’ve gone to the sets telling myself that I have to do my job best. Don’t worry about the project, because it’s not your business. To live through your life, you have to make certain decisions like that. And you have to certainly say no to a lot of things which I have done.

And then I was badly wanting to break away from the kind of antagonist roles that were being offered to me. So, I have said a lot many NOs to that recently. I have recently done a film titled Tikdam. I have also done a comedy film with Paresh Rawal. There are a couple of shows in the pipeline, currently in post-production. So, I’ve been able to explore other kinds of roles that people have not seen me in before.

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OTT medium has recently emerged. But when an actor dreamt of becoming an actor, he dreamt of acting in films. Do you wish that you could be doing more films?

Amit Sial: Yeah, definitely I would want to do films, because films have their own charm, especially when it’s a theatrical release. Just to be able to see yourself on your work on the bigger screen, in a room filled with 200-300 people who are sailing in the same boat together, it’s a different experience altogether. Just by virtue of that experience, I would love to do films and offers are coming my way. So, two of my films, as I told you, have been ready to release. Now I’m not sure whether they’re going to release it in theatres or on OTT, so let’s see.