Gulshan Grover and Manu Risha Chadda recently appeared together in a short film titled Baj Gai Seeti, where they played a couple of ageing thieves. The actors spoke to Hindustan Times about the film and its real-life parallels, the platform of short films, and why this is the ‘best time’ for content and talent in the entertainment industry. (Also read: Gulshan says air hostess once refused to sit beside him: ‘She was just scared’)
Baj Gai Seeti, which was released on Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films last week, chronicles a night in the lives of two thieves contemplating ‘retirement’ and looking for that one last big haul. This is Gulshan’s first short film in India and the actor said yes to it after years of rejecting several others. Revealing why this appealed to him, he says, “When this short film was offered to me, I saw it was not about that ageing thief, but as something with a larger connect with life. What happens is that many of the people who are not so young are facing this problem in various professions. They are unable to find that moment to shine. Therefore, I felt it had a larger metaphor for life.”
Gulshan adds that this trend of veterans being unable to find their place is prevalent in the entertainment industry too. He shares, “Even in the film industry, there is a major trend. Anupam Kher told me that several film houses and a particular casting director, Mukesh Chhabra have decided not to cast people who have been in the business for a long time. Just because we have been in the business for a long time, someone is feeling that a person’s ability has diminished or reduced, then you are a short-term gainer.”
However, he adds that he hasn’t faced this himself fortunately, charting it to his habit of changing genres every few years. “One of my mentors, Mahesh Bhatt sahib once told me, ‘hang your gloves before these mo*******s throw you out’. The world owes me nothing. You don’t just have to reinvent but also be a trendsetter. Unless you do both, your opportunities will reduce. I have never faced that difficulty but I see several friends who are friends facing this,” says Gulshan.
Manu, who plays the junior thief to Gulshan’s senior thief in the film, says he brought this parallel to screen between their characters too. “I have followed him and his career. Similarly, in the film, his character is like an elder brother to my character. I follow him there as well. So I brought that real-life parallel and deference there too, in my demeanour and body language,” he says with a laugh.
Gulshan argues that this is the best time for content and actors given how diverse the entertainment world has become with platforms for short films, feature films, web series, and serials all galore. “This is the most brilliant time for content, for talent, and even for investors. The opportunities are enormous. Way back, restaurants used to sell diverse things on menus. But then, places opened just for pizzas or just for momos. They are running because they find enough customers. You don’t need that Delhi ki dukaan that has everything. The same way in cinema, the content has changed. People want different content and it is the perfect time to be more diverse,” he says.
He has special praise for platforms like Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films, where Baj Gai Seeti released. “They have given an anchor and a platform to shorter films, to people who want to show their talent. I hope people get encouraged and make more such content,” he adds.
Manu adds that for actors like him, these short films and web shows have been a boon. “You get a very sukoon wali (relaxing) popularity with this,” says the actor, adding, “People say they enjoyed one of my short films more than a feature film. Now, people are approaching me too. I am getting popular. So at times, I behave like Shah Rukh Khan. So, it feels really good.”