Actor Sushil Pandey, who is known for his stints in films like Jab We Met, Phas Gaye Re Obama, Jolly LLB 1 and 2 and Article 15, was recently seen in Huma Qureshi-starrer Maharani. The show tells the story of an illiterate woman who is made the Chief Minister of Bihar in the ’90s, and is created by Subhash Kapoor, who had earlier directed Huma in Jolly LLB 2.
Sushil says that it’s Subhash’s knowledge and awareness that makes the show special. “Whenever he makes any content, he has his own voice and there is some statement in it. Politically and socially, he is very aware. All his projects have relatable characters, who feel real. This is my fourth collaboration with him and I have observed that he writes in a very real space from things he has seen or observed somewhere. There is entertainment but also a reflection of the society,” he shares, adding that contrary to reports, Maharani isn’t based on anyone. “Maharani is not a biopic or based on a real-life person. It is based in Bihar of the ’90s when a lot of things were changing socio-economically.”
As for his character, Sushil shares, “My character’s name is Kunwar Singh who belongs to the so called forward class. He runs a private army called Veer Sena, and is the commander of that army. He is a very hardcore believer in the age-old caste system, and believes in the dominance of upper caste over the backward class. He sees those people with impurity who try to change this system. He believes that things have run this way and should run the same in future too.”
However, Sushil doesn’t align to that ideology at all, so getting into that character was a challenge. “I am from Bihar myself and I remember the ’90s era from there but when I was offered this role, I didn’t relate to such a character. I don’t buy his thought process as this character was really dark, without any empathy. But I had goosebumps only just listening about it, thus I immediately said yes,” he says.
To work on his character, Sushil took help from his roots in Bihar. “I read about the history of that time in Bihar and called my local friends from there to ask them if they knew someone like Kunwar Singh and if they can make me meet them. I have been from that place only but never encountered such a soul,” he reveals.
Sushil went and stayed in Bihar for about five days for research. “I met some people, but I didn’t find what I was looking for in any of those people who were jumping with excitement to talk to me. But there was this one young silent man, who had something in his eyes that kind of pulled me. We all were speaking for about an hour or two, and that man said nothing throughout, but suddenly he stood up, gave me a look and left with an angst. It was my last day in Bihar and that encounter was something I took inspiration from and I tried to be close to it while I was shooting for the show. It was really dark and painful for me, especially in a few scenes, but it was a journey,” he insists.
Talking about his co-actor Huma, Sushil is all praise. “I worked with Huma in Jolly LLB 2 and I have to say she is one of the best human being out there and the best co-actor. There are no issues with her and it is very easy to work with her. She is always talking and doing some fun. Huma and Subhash ji worked like a team after Jolly LLB 2 and it showed on set,” he raves.
Speaking of Subhash, Maharani is Sushil’s fourth collaboration with him. What makes him say yes to him every time? “His knowledge that challenges me again and again and his humanity. He feels for everybody. There are two people very close to me in the film industry, Subhash Kapoor and Anubhav Sinha. These makers make content that they truly believe in. Subhash ji’s knowledge astounds me every time and he always have something logical to say on everything. Also, he was the person to give me my first project, Phas Gaye Re Obama, that gave me some recognition and he chose me for it when no one knew me. So, now if he has some part for me, he calls me for it.,” he smiles.
Image Source: Instagram/sushilpandeyofficial, sonyliv
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