#HowIMadeIt! Chandan on Aashram's success


With its stellar star cast and impactful storyline, ‘Rang De Basanti‘ may have skyrocketed to success upon its release in 2006 but Chandan Roy Sanyal, who made his debut in the film with the role of Batukeshwar Dutt, was hardly talked about. Over the next 14 years too, while his filmography grew, recognition evaded him. Chandan, who is our guest this week on #HowIMadeIt, admits that he didn’t have an easy time in the industry till MX Player‘s ‘Aashram’ came along.
Not one to beat around the bush, Chandan outright agrees, “I’ve had more downs than ups. I was getting disgruntled and disillusioned, and it is only now that I am breathing free. I can finally take care of my parents”. The actor goes on to add that while he knew it was going to be a long process, he didn’t anticipate the struggle to last so long. “I didn’t have the luxury of hitting the gym, looking after my nutrition, and taking care to look good. But the struggle lasted too long.14 years is not a short period of time,” he observes.
One of the biggest hurdles that Chandan faced was getting meaty roles. “I was getting side roles and those fetched me critical acclaim, but never translated into capital gain nor led to a flood of offers. A lot of renowned filmmakers had cast me but it didn’t translate into any personal growth,” points out the actor, who thinks part of the reason was that he did not get slotted as a hero. “I did some films as a protagonist–‘Island City’ and ‘Urojahaj: The Flight’–but they were arty films and very few people saw them, so they didn’t help my career. After that, no one looked at me for a central role in mainstream Bollywood. But what could I, a small pawn, do to change the dynamics and economics of filmmaking? They might have asked questions like who will come to see me in the theatres or who will buy a film with me in the lead?” retorts Chandan.

However, the actor is thankful that, even in his struggle, he never took up a project that he wouldn’t be proud of or that would taint his filmography. “I maintained my dignity else my career would have sunk. I used a certain filter, and now, after ‘Aashram’, I am getting my share of the spotlight. In fact, I have been offered 20 projects after ‘Aashram’ started screening on MX Player,” he exults.

Talking about the response he received on his character of Swami Bhupendra Singh aka Bhuppa Swami in ‘Aashram’, Chandan says that his Instagram followers have multiplied and several filmmakers and journalists are calling him. “I was often praised for my performances and I had got used to it, but this time I could sense that something new and different was happening. I broke down. I couldn’t handle it. I was tired of it all before ‘Aashram’ happened. It was such a breath of fresh air and the happiness was not easy to absorb! It assured me that I was not a waste anymore. I had got a new lease of life. ‘Aashram’ proved to be a booster shot,” he enthuses.

While he was waiting for his acting career to take off, Chandan also made some short films. “I heard Vishal (Bharadwaj) sir being asked in an interview about what drove him to make his own films after providing such terrific music in ‘Satya’ and ‘Maachis’. He said that he did it simply because he hadn’t got much work in that department despite those films being hits and he wanted to cast himself as a music director. That struck me. Now I want to make more short films where I will play the main role. I want good directors to make my stories,” reveals Chandan. The actor is also all praise for his ‘Aashram’ maker. “Prakash (Jha) ji gave me a lot of freedom in ‘Aashram’ to improvise as long as I did not underplay or go over the top. His brief to me about my character helped me get the correct vision of how I needed to go about it,” he asserts.

‘Aashram’ also helped Chandan develop a bond with the lead actor, Bobby Deol. “Bobby and I have become very close friends. He has even kept a tab on me during the lockdown and kept enquiring if I am fine,” he smiles, adding that he was now looking forward to the shoot of Aashram Chapter 3 to kick off. “And yes, I am not shaving off my beard,” he signs off.

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