Sharman Joshi: I’ve done movies which aren’t ‘mainstream’, but are important for the society
Sharman Joshi has been one of the finest actors we have in Bollywood since the last two decades. The actor has had ups and downs in his career, but he has always managed to come up with some mindblowing stories to tell. His latest release, ‘The Least Of These: The Graham Staines Story’, has been doing well on OTT platforms. We caught up with the actor about the film. Here’s what he had to say:
Starting from ‘Godmother’, to ‘Lajja’ and now ‘The Least Of These: The Graham Staines Story’, you’ve never shied away from working in unconventional and hard-hitting films. What pulls you towards these stories?
While some films exist to give the audience a good time and make them enjoy for two hours, there are others that convey an important message. I believe while my primary responsibility is to entertain, I also need to enlighten through my art, which is why I have even done cinema which may not seem as “mainstream” as my other commercial projects but is important for society as a whole. In the end, I am not just an actor but a fellow citizen too. So this is one of the ways I contribute to making the world a better place.
Tell us more about the story and your role in ‘The Least Of These: The Graham Staines Story’.
This movie is based on the murders of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two little kids, an incident that occurred way back in 1999 but is still fresh in the minds of many Indians. We explore the chain of events that led to this spine chilling crime and how blind hatred combined with vested agenda leads to humans becoming monsters. I play Manav Banerjee, a journalist with a wife and a child on the way, who is struggling to make ends meet. An assignment leads me to cross paths with Graham Staines and after that, my life changes forever. Whether my life changes for the better or worse, you’ll have to watch the film to find out.
This film streams on ShemarooMe Box Office. How do you feel about it arriving on OTT?
We did release the film theatrically in English a while ago, but now, our labour of love reaches a much larger audience thanks to it streaming in Hindi. In today’s day and age, India is a very tech-savvy country and we have fully embraced this OTT culture. Digital streaming is going to be a very big part of the “new normal” and all of us need to adapt sooner than later. Take ShemarooMe Box Office, for example, they have wonderfully converted the lockdown into an opportunity to turn every house in India into a personal cinema hall. During the lockdown, many of us have missed the experience of booking a ticket, going to cinemas and being swept away by a new movie each Friday. ShemarooMe brings back that feel with Box Office. Grabbing a ticket, watching a fresh film on Friday, it’s all back on ShemarooMe Box Office, and I was fascinated by this aspect! I’m glad my film is associated with such an innovative platform that, just like me, isn’t afraid of thinking out of the box.
‘The Least Of These: The Graham Staines Story’ releases on ShemarooMe Box Office as a pay per view offering, what do you think about this model?
I am aware that “pay per view” is a big deal internationally, so it is nice of Shemaroo Entertainment to bring this concept to India. It is a great option and a welcome change. If we visit a book store, we do so to purchase a particular book; similarly, with “pay per view” the audience can log on to ShemarooMe Box Office and simply pay for the ticket of the film they want to watch, making it a very flexible platform.
Comedy, romance, drama, thriller, horror – there is literally no genre of film that Sharman Joshi hasn’t left a mark in. But which genre do you personally enjoy the most?
To be honest, I don’t have a particular preference. If a story touches me, the world interests me and my character speaks to me, I can work in any and every type of film. Although I must admit comedy as a genre has the most far-reaching impact. People still remember how Raju crossed all fears to become an engineer in ‘3 Idiots’ and that Rusi taught his son to always do the right thing in ‘Ferrari Ki Sawaari’. These ideals get etched in minds because we pass those values through light-hearted comedy.
You have dabbled in theatre, television, films and web series. Does your performance change according to the medium?
There are certain intricacies that get added to the craft as the medium changes. Theatre needs you to perform on a slightly different pitch than films. The TV serials I have done were more or less an extension of movies and cinematic in treatment, so it wasn’t really different for me. Web series are also similar to movies in terms of presentation just that one gets to completely immerse himself in the discovery of his character over the journey of multiple episodes. But in the end, our job is to convincingly perform on screen no matter what the medium. As an artiste and storyteller, my dream is to touch as many lives as possible through my work, and with so many new options to consume content; my fans can not just catch me in theatres, but also a digital film or web series.