Known for his intense roles across multiple platforms, Chandan Roy Sanyal has an impressive filmography in both Bollywood and Bengali cinema.
Chandan Roy Sanyal, best remembered for his breakthrough performance as ‘Mikhail’ in Vishal Bhardwaj’s 2009-Bollywood hit Kaminey, recently garnered immense praise for his portrayal of ‘Bhuppa Swami’ in the web series Aashram. Certainly, Chandan has come a long way from being a shy kid in school who opened up to theatre and then led to portraying a multitude of characters on screen.
“Acting was an accident. I used to do dramas in school, but in college when I joined a drama society, it opened me up from being a shy kid and doing theatre gave me confidence,” says the actor, who admits that actors lead interesting lives and have to keep their performance fresh every single time.
Accidental or not, acting to Chandan is more than just a medium to be able to pay his bills. “Acting is like a riyaz, which requires doing homework every day, and theatre, I think, is the best training for an actor,” elaborates Chandan.
But the actor is matter-of-fact when he talks of the transition from being a theatre actor to a motion-picture actor. “It is tricky. Most actors with a theatre background tend to go overboard when acting in before cameras because that’s how it’s been on stage — loud voice and body movement so that the people sitting right at the back can hear and see what you are doing on stage,” explains Chandan. “Another major difference between a stage and movie actor is that in theatre, actors get only one go in front of the audience to perform and in cinema one has multiple options to get the take right.”
However, Chandan admits that it is cinema that excites him more nowadays, so much so that he watches at least one movie a day from a pool of genres and languages. “Though I was involved in theatre in my initial years and really enjoyed every bit of it, now I am more into movies though many of my friends still feel I perform better on stage,” adds Chandan.
All said and done, he also realises that an actor must understand the skills of dissecting one’s character. “Most of my performances that have been appreciated are those where I shifted from the usual acting rather than going the usual way. I try to be imaginative and keep it fresh. One needs to unwind and unlearn every day to be successful.
No character too small of big
Being a part of the much-acclaimed Ashram team also brought him some great experiences. “Working with director Prakash Jha is great. Sooner or later, I want to make movies, and I learned a lot about it from him,” says Chandan excitedly. “The entire team became friends while shooting; we used to have lunch together. Even now, we have a WhatsApp group where we keep in touch and praise each other for notable works.”
Chandan appears pretty clinical in his approach to taking up his roles in films and series. For instance, though he is known for his negative roles, Chandan sees them as characters only — nothing negative or positive. “I look at them as a character with flaws; then I draw a picture of it in my mind and subtly perform without going overboard with villainous voice and body language,” he adds.
But that’s not to say he doesn’t have a dream role. “My dream role would be something akin to Kamal Hassan’s in Saagar or Sadma, Dev Anand’s in Guide or Guru Dutt’s in Kaagaz ke Phool,” says Chandan.
Though the pandemic brought Chandan misery in the first few months as it did to several artists, good things soon lined up for him. “The first few months were bad; I lived on my savings,” he remembers. “But it was good towards the end as I began getting more work.”
Chandan will be next seen in Sanak, which is produced by Vipul Shah. He will portray an interesting action-filled negative role. “Given my physique, I haven’t done anything like this before,” he says. Thereafter, there is the next season of the web series Ashram and another project for Netflix.