Getting Candid with The Cast of ‘Sarbjit’

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One Happy Family. . . . An overnight turn of events. . . .a fight for 23 years and beyond. . . .Sarbjit explores the real life of Sarabjit,and his family; who relentlessly fought for justice for over two decades. Subhadrika Sen talks exclusively with the cast of Sarbjit, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Richa Chadda and Randeep Hooda about their experience of shooting the film. . . .

Vishnu Deva with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
Vishnu Deva with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

Subhadrika: Tell us something about your character in the film?

Richa: The character I play is a depiction of Sarabjit Singh’s wife Sukhpreet. She is the backbone of the family. The role is so interesting because it shows the sorrows of a wife without being ‘too preachy.’

 

 Subhadrika: How did you prepare for your role in Sarbjit?

Aishwarya: It is one of the most challenging roles I have ever played as it required me to become very emotionally invested in my character and that is the only way to essay such a powerful role. Due to the scheduling of the film sometimes we could not even take 2 takes for a scene. So this film did require a lot of emotional preparation prior to shooting.

Randeep: My physical transformation for the role was very evident. I lost 18 kgs in 28 days by eating only 600 calories a day. But my emotional transformation to play Sarbjit was equally draining and taxing. I just hope people realise how much effort I put into each character I play. Though I would not advice this diet to anyone, especially in such a long time.

Subhadrika: Considering that you played a character inspired from a person, how challenging was it to play your roles?

Aishwarya: Dalbirji is such an inspiration to so many of us. She is such a positive person even though she has faced so many hardships and tribulations in her life. There is a divine light about her and she is not bitter about her past. Therefore I realised early on that to play this character I needed to showcase an earnestness and truthfulness on screen.  People may say I do not look like her but I have stayed true to Omung’s direction and narrative for Dalbirji’s character in the film. We also paid attention to a lot of physical details. I wore a body suit for the scenes where she was older and that enabled me to change her walk and her personality. These were fine details perhaps not noticeable to the audience but mattered to me so I could play the character as authentically as possible.

Richa: I am more interested in real life than films. Therefore I love playing real characters that have been affected by real incidents. It was an honour to play Sarabjit’s wife Sukhpreet. She is not a very famous character but I did have to learn her mannerisms and body language and adapt my body during shooting. In the film she starts out as a very lively character and slowly changes into a silent housewife after the tragedy hits her family. I had to prepare myself a lot for the role especially with my emotional preparation.

Randeep: I get scared when I get a script like this and I have to play a real life character. I always doubt myself and question whether I can do a role this. For this film especially a lot is known about Dalbirji’s struggle to get her brother out but not much is known about his prison life and his suffering. It was hard to show that suffering without having to go through it and therefore I would suffer so I could accurately depict my character’s pain and anguish.

 

Subhadrika: Sarbjit explores a beautiful brother- sister relationship. How similar or differently could you relate to Dalbir in this aspect?

Aishwarya: In the film Dalbir and Sarbjit share a very powerful connection and Dalbirji was very protective of him.  Their sibling love was rare. It was a 23 year fight. That is a commendable spirit.  The story needed to be told.

Randeep: The bond between a brother and sister is very sacred according to me. Dalbirji’s relentless struggle for her brother proves that. I have an older sister and they are both very close and special to me. I am an actor because of my sister; she was very good at acting but did not pursue her dream. Her winning an award for drama during her school years pushed me to become a better actor. She is a doctor now and she was the one who regulated my health during my weight loss in Sarbjit. But I hope we act together one day!

 

Randeep Hooda (Photo: IANS)
Randeep Hooda (Photo: IANS)

Subhadrika: Did you meet Sarbjit’s family in real life?

Aishwarya : Yes, I met Dalbirji. If you meet Dalbirji you can see an incredible light, divine light in her. She has a spark in her and continues to help people. She still helps families see their loved one gets released. She is not negative about her life even after she was subjected to so many hardships in her life. However I did not meet Dalbirji while we were shooting the film as I wanted to stay true to Omung’s direction and narrative for the character in the film. We were fortunate enough to meet Sarabjitji’s wife and daughter. It was a very emotional moment.

Richa: Yes we met them on the occasion of Sarabjit Singh’s third death anniversary. It was a very emotional even for all of us. He has left such an impact on all of us and we could all feel the power of his story when we were shooting for the film.

Randeep: Dalbirji said I remind her of her brother that is the most important thing to me. I met her before in Mumbai we started shooting the film. I can’t fathom what the family must have gone through while Sarbjitji was in jail. Sarbjit’s daughters are also very adorable. I just want to thank them for wanting me to play the part and helping me develop the character. After this movie I developed a better connection with Sarbjit’s family as well as my own.

 

Subhadrika:  How was your experience working with director Omung Kumar?

Aishwarya : It took me 15 minutes to say yes to the film. I already had a connection to Sarbjit Singh’s case because 10 years ago I had signed the petition that Dalbirji had started to help bring him back to India. I have a lot of faith in the story and the writing of the film. It was one of the fastest projects ever because of a strong story and a director that made it come alive on screen.

Richa: Omung focuses a lot on detail and he was very precise in his vision for the film and every character included in the narrative. It was one of the fastest projects I have done because he was the boss on the set and he knew exactly what he wanted even for his edit points. He created a blend between cinema and reality.

Randeep: I gave my heart and soul to this performance and I think he recognized that. I had heard that Dalbirji wanted me to play the part so I researched a lot about the character and then before I met Omung, I felt like I knew him very well. He knew what he wanted from the character and made me lose weight to show the plight better. He provided me with letters and pictures of Sarbjit that really helped me become the character. I used to write questions to Omung as if he were my sister and chain myself so I felt Sarbjitji’s solitude and plight.

 

Subhadrika: What is your favourite song from the movie?

Aishwarya: Aradhya really loves Tung Lak, but the tune is so catchy everyone has caught on to it.

Richa: Being Punjabi I had great fun shooting Tung Lak and some of my choreography was even included in the song.

 

Subhadrika: How was your bonding with your co- actors?

Richa: The sets were extremely fun even though the film is so serious. I have worked with Randeep before and it has always been a pleasure. But working with Aishwarya was a real surprise she was so down to earth and friendly and became almost a guiding force on set for me. I am sad the film is over and I won’t be able to see her as much.

Randeep: Both my female co-stars are strong powerful ladies in reel and real life. Richa and I shared a good chemistry on set and it was very easy to feel comfortable with her. Aishwarya is also just like Dalbir Kaur in real life. After working with her I realised she too is protective, loving,  motherly sister.

 

Subhadrika: Do you have any message to give to the readers?

Aishwarya : Sarbjit has a very powerful message and that is of undying hope. It is story that needed to be told so that an incident like this never happens again and if it does people need to support the family to ensure justice is served faster. It provides a family’s perspective of losing their loved one overnight and how they never gave up their fight for justice.

 Richa: I feel a big responsibility to uphold Sukhpreet’s character. She is a real woman who was forced to deal with hardships in her life that no woman, wife or mother should be subjected to. It was a film that had to be made and I hope people go watch it.

Randeep: This film is about a common man’s struggle who is caught between political ups and downs between two countries. This film was not made to hurt any country’s sentiments and is shown through Sarbjit’s sister Dalbirji’s perspective. This movie is about hope and an undying spirit, something we all can imbibe in our lives.

Here is a trailer for the film Sarbjit.

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