Actor with an earthy touch

- September 15, 2022
| By : Santosh Mehta |

Sanjay Mishra is well known for his comic timing, and for the ability to play roles of ordinary people in straitened circumstances. Ahead of the release of his upcoming film Woh 3 Din, he talks with Patriot about his three decades in the film industry

IN THE ACT: Mishra in a still from his award-winning film Turtle that focused on the plight of a drought-stricken village

Hindi film actor Sanjay Mishra needs no introduction. After working 27 years in the industry, he has become an easily recognisable face. He has acted in an impressive 200-odd films, including Bhojpuri, Telugu and Punjabi, among others. All films were obviously not hits, but his performances were appreciated by audience.

An alumnus of Delhi’s National School of Drama (NSD), Mishra made his film debut with Oh Darling Yeh Hai India (1995) in a small role as a harmonium player. Slowly, he was recognized for his acting skills as he seemed to know how to entertain the audience.

Mishra was born into a middle-class family in Darbhanga district of Bihar on 6 October 1963. During his father’s posting in Varanasi, he studied in Kendriya Vidyalaya (BHU). He has two children Pal and Lamba with Kiran, a well-known Hindi poet.

Mishra did many commercials and small films before getting a big opportunity to work with big stars such as Amitabh Bachchan in a soft drink (Miranda) advertisement. Afterwards, he performed in Satya directed by Ram Gopal Verma and Dil Se directed by Mani Ratnam. Sharing screen space with Shah Rukh Khan, Manisha Koirala and Preity Zinta, helped him gain popularity.

Incidentally, these films also helped him to get great offers in television, including serial Office Office where he acted as paanwala ‘Shukla’. His character got him much appreciation due to his natural desi-style comedy and dialogues.

Some films in which he played memorable roles are Kaamyaab, Bhool Bhulaiya, Dilwale, Bachchan Pandey, Masaan, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Ankhon Dekhi, Newton, Jolly LLB, CID, Guru, Khiladi 786,  Golmaal 3, Bluffmaster, Dum Laga Ke Hasiye, Joker, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, and Phas Gaya Re Obama, among others.

Mishra still has his hands full shooting for films such as Bhakshak, Coat, Humari Shaadi, Jaaye Aap Kahan Jangey, Waah Zindagi. His film Woh 3 din, which will release on 30 September, is an engaging drama wherein Mishra plays the role of a rickshaw driver.

In this Interview, Sanjay Mishra talks about his journey and upcoming projects:

Q: What can you tell us about Woh 3 Din?
A: Directed by Raaj Aashoo, it stars Rajesh Sharma, Chandan Roy Sanyal and Rakesh Srivastava, among others. I play a rickshaw driver and am confident that my performance will be appreciated by my fans and audience.

Q: How do you feel about Ankhon Dekhi?

A: This film, directed by the brilliant Rajat Kapoor, is special for me because audiences loved my role. I feel overwhelmed with the kind of response and respect I received for this film. Ankhon Dekhi was shown at the South Asian International Film Festival in Toronto, a big compliment for me as an actor.

Q: Tell us about Masaan, which you said once is your favourite film.

A; Yes, it’s one of my favourite films. I loved the script and its social satire. I enjoyed playing Vidyadhar Pathak and working with director Neeraj Ghaywan along with Richa Chadha, Vicky Kaushal, and Shweta Tripathi, among others.

Masaan got two awards: the Un Certain Regard Avenir Prize, and the International Federation of Film Critics (Fipresci) award at the 68th Cannes International film festival. I feel honoured to get such appreciation at the International level.

Q:   As a versatile actor you have acted in a variety of roles, but wasn’t your role in Holy Cow radically different?

A: Yes, You are right, I have been actively working and doing different kinds of roles in some films. I have played a villager, a paanwala, an office clerk, and others but Holy Cow gives a message to society. Therefore, in my opinion, Holy Cow is a brave film directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia. I play a Muslim guy whose cow goes missing; I go to the police station to file a complaint and everyone starts searching for the missing animal. It is an interesting film that also stars Sadiya Siddiqui, Mukesh S Bhat, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Rahul Mitra, among others.

Q: What do you think about the role of cinema in our lives?
A: I believe that cinema is the best way to reach out to the masses. It not only entertains the masses but educates them also.

Q: I remember there was a time you were not seen in Mumbai. There were rumours that you had dropped out.

A: Yes, I had personal problems and health issues, and was not able to focus on my professional work. Therefore, I went back to stay with my father, not keen on going back to Mumbai. Suddenly, I lost my father. It was a very hard situation and caused me unimaginable pain. I went to work in a dhaba in Rishikesh selling noodles. Most of the customers recognised me but I kept working as I needed money to survive. It’s my mother who encouraged me to go back to Mumbai and get back to my normal routine.

Q: What do you want to say to your fans?

A: I can only express my gratitude to all of them for giving me their time and support. Whatever I have achieved in nearly three decades at the cinemas is all due to the love and respect, I received from the audience.


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