– Rinku Gupta
He’s the tall and handsome villain of Shankar’s magnum opus 2.0 alongside Akshay Kumar. Currently shooting with Superstar Rajinikanth in Chennai, Bollywood actor SUDHANSHU PANDEY is loving every moment of his stint. In a chat, he gives us a peek into his role and why he’s completely bowled over by the Shankar-Rajini combo.
Being part of a Rajini-Shankar film is a dream come true for any actor and so too it is for Sudhanshu, “The minute I got a call saying that Shankar wanted me for 2.0, I said yes! I was in total bliss for those few moments! I flew to Chennai for a look test and met Shankar sir.” And the meeting left a deep impact, “He just walked into the room and shook hands introducing himself. During our conversation, I was wonder-struck by his sheer simplicity and humility! It was unfathomable how a person of his stature could be so grounded! We all have seen his work. His films are evolved cinema, both in ideas and execution. I’ve always felt Shankar is a scientist. He creates something extra ordinary out of the ordinary! He’s completely meticulous right down to the last detail. I saw that aspect of him when we did the look test.”
He’s cagey about revealing details of his role. But we do learn that he’s playing Dr Bohra’s son in the sequel. In Endhiran (Robot in Hindi), Bohra was played by the stylish Danny Denzongpa. Sudhanshu seems to be taking over in 2.0. But he’s undergone a makeover for the role. Apart from maintaining a certain body weight and build till the entire film is completed, Sudhanshu has been styled specially for his costumes by Pallavi Singh. Apparently Shankar himself has zeroed in on his costume after extensive research. “My clothes in 2.0 will enhance my character in the film,” says Sudhanshu. But the crowning glory of his look will be the extensively detailed and special hairstyle that he’ll be sporting. Speaking about it, he says, “Shankar flew down Bollywood’s ace hairstylist Manzoor Khan to style my hair. Shankar stayed with us for 6 hours on the first day, working out each little detail before he finally chose one particular hairstyle for me. Everyday at shoot, it takes Manzoor 2 whole hours just to do my hair! Its very time consuming and tedious but this look has a crucial bearing on the story!” Sudhanshu is also doing a rigorous functional training workout 6 days a week and following a strict vegetarian diet for the entire duration of the film’s production. We know from leaked photos from the Delhi schedule that Akshay Kumar has the get-up of a Giant Crow. Now Sudhanshu’s elaborate hair styling and look will give more fodder for speculation!
A taste of Hollywood action
Sudhanshu has worked with Akshay Kumar since Khiladi 420 and Singh Is King and regards him as an elder brother. “He shot in the elaborate costume with Rajini sir in an open auditorium in the 44 degrees Delhi heat in the previous schedule of 2.0! He’s very disciplined about his diet,daily routine and workout which gives him the agility to do action sequences himself. Action scenes are a cakewalk for him even today.” Ask Sudhanshu about his own action sequence in 2.0 and he says, “It’s not the regular kind of action block for me.” But he did have a new experience in Delhi, in a sequence where he was lifted by special cables in the giant auditorium and swung from 40 ft in the air. “Normally, we have 2 men pulling the cables up to suspend us. But for 2.0, the Hollywood action director used a special machine that pulled me up and swung me with such jerk, exerting pressure,f orce and a faster momentum! So in a few seconds, I was rushed from the ground to the air! That was something new for me and gave me a huge rush!” says the man who has acted alongside action hero Jackie Chan in The Myth in 2005.
Superstar’s spiritual vibes
When he speaks about Rajini, Sudhanshu’s demeanour becomes reverential. “I’m a deeply spiritual person. The vibes I got in the presence of Rajini sir, I cannot even begin to describe! I felt like hugging him, touching his feet and kissing his hands! He’s a legend who is beyond all number and star games! On our first meeting, I went straight and touched his feet. He told me that Shankar sir had talked a lot about me to him.”
The one takeaway from the film for Sudhanshu will be the sheer humility in the face of giant achievements. “Be it 2.0, my Tamil debut Billa 2 opposite Ajith, Megamann or Indrajith which I’m shooting currently, the simplicity I’ve witnessed here is unparalleled. No matter what your achievements and stature, the most important thing is to respect everyone as human beings. This learning from the Southern Industry will help me become a better person and give me a new perspective while achieving my goals.”