These days, Saurabh Shukla lives in a daze. It’s been three days since the 61st National Awards were announced, and Shukla’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing. Congratulations pour in by the hundreds on his victory in the category of Best Supporting Actor as a kind judge in Jolly LLB who discovers his conscience during the legal proceedings. Looking back on his nearly two-decade journey in the Indian film industry, Shukla can see landmark roles, collaborations with “thinking” directors, but also a constant struggle not to get stuck in the inflexible skin of the filmmaker. ‘a burlesque caricature that plugs mindless lines in a commercial pot.

His efforts have proven fruitful so far – and with meaty roles in recent successes like Barfi and Jolly LLB, Shukla, 51, has become an important name on the marquee. Today, his presence in a film is creating a buzz and attracting viewers to the cinema.

So what about his role in Jolly LLB who clicked with the audience? “Bollywood has been accused in the past of not telling the original story. Here is a story from our time. We all know how the courts work, especially the lower courts, but no one had realistically described them until now. that has Jolly LLB came, “says Shukla,” I think what appealed to people was the fact that the judge was a real human being, not just a character with a hammer.

Like most of his contemporaries, Shukla has his roots in the theater. The 1980s were considered the golden age of theater, and Delhi at the time was home to playwrights and directors who were transforming the face of this art form. Shukla, a recent graduate from Khalsa College, couldn’t resist being a part of the vibrant theatrical fraternity and stood out with roles in A view from the bridge and Ghashiram Kotwal from Vijay Tendulkar. “In 1985, I realized this was where I wanted to be. I became a member of the National School of Drama (NSD) Repertory Company, ”explains Shukla. Impressed with his work, Shekhar Kapur threw him in Queen of bandits and so began Shukla’s date with movies. “My biggest battle when I moved to Mumbai was fighting the stereotype of a fat man with comedic timing. But I was fortunate enough to have worked with directors like Sudhir Mishra who allowed me to to prove my credentials as an actor, “says Shukla. His biggest break came with the role of Kallu Mama in Satya, a film he also co-wrote with Anurag Kashyap (Shukla is a man of many talents: he is a lyricist, screenwriter, director and director). Kallu Mama remains one of the most unforgettable characters in Indian films to this day.

“People thought that post-Satya my life would become very easy. Unfortunately, that was not the case, ”says Shukla. “I wasn’t getting roles that had life in them. They were all cardboard figures. In fact, there was a phase before Barfi when I decided not to act anymore. When Anurag Basu approached him about Barfi, Shukla was worried about working in a film made in a commercial setting. “But the film completely revived the actor in me. And all the credit goes to Anurag and Ranbir. The good times started from there.

If 2014 earned Shukla a National Award, it gave Sanjay Mishra, yet another gifted NSD actor, a historic role as Bauji in the critically acclaimed film. Aankhon Dekhi. The actor brought Bauji’s quirks, complexes, and often misunderstood humor to life. The film makes you wonder where Bauji ends and where Mishra begins. “Actors usually have to become ‘someone else’ in a movie. But with Mishra, it’s different. He is this character, ”says Rajat Kapoor, who directed Mishra in the film. When he was writing the script, Mishra’s face was what kept popping up in his mind.

But mention “Sanjay Mishra” at a rally, and you will be greeted with blank stares. Put a picture on the name and the silence will quickly turn to cacophony, with people listing their favorite Sanjay Mishra roles – Apple Singh, the adorable icon created by sports broadcaster ESPN during the 1999 World Cup, or Shuklaji from the sitcom Office office.

The success of Aankhon Dekhi added to the curiosity around him. “The response I received is magical. During a screening, people asked me if they could touch my feet. I was bombarded with messages on Facebook, ”says Mishra, 50, on the phone while filming in Rishikesh for Yash Raj Film’s Dum Laga ke Haisha.

Mishra’s father, a government information official in Patna, was spending sleepless nights worrying about his son’s future (Mishra failed to clean the X class three times). “My father was very fond of literature and spent a lot of time with authors. One of his close friends was the famous writer Manohar Shyam Joshi, who was also palmistry, ”says Mishra,“ He suggested that I go into the performing arts. The youngster was accepted to NSD and embarked on a journey to become an actor. “NSD mein kya atmosphere thaaas paas play ki repeat ho rahi hai, Irrfan and Ashok Lokhande are your elders, Tigmanshu Dhulia is your roommate. Mishra said. “But it was also not that I was very inclined to study at NSD. You ask me to act, jump, do any number of yoga asanas, but I won’t be able to remember their names.

Moving to Mumbai would have been a natural progression for any NSD graduate. But Mishra had other plans. He went on a photographic trip to Kumbh Mela. “Not many people know that he is an extremely spiritual person. There is an inner quest within him. Mishra is the kind of person who will disappear for 20 years. And if you ask him where he is, he will tell you: “I went to the Himalayas to become a sadhu‘, says Kapoor. It was only after his father urged him to pursue his favorite subject that Mishra moved to Mumbai. His father was a big influence on his career path and Mishra kind of paid homage to him through Aankhon Dekhi. “Bauji’s character looked a lot like my father. For one scene in particular, I asked the costume designer if I could wear my dad’s shirt. When my mom saw the movie she said: ‘Bilkul Papaji lag rahe hain‘. It was a huge compliment, ”he says.

His close friend Vijay Krishna Acharya, director of the moolah-churner Dhoom 3, is all praise for his comedic prowess. “Mishra is the kind of actor who thrives if he is allowed to improvise.” The duo, who have been friends since 1993, have collaborated on series like Nahi Hai Laddoo life, which was abolished in 2000 to make way for Ekta Kapoor Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki on Star. “We share a very strange sense of humor. It really cemented our friendship, ”Acharya said. “In addition, he has a great imagination. You could say something that would seem unreal to others, but he would really understand. And it’s so ingrained that it will make something fickle look so ingrained. This is exactly how he is as an actor as well. “

You saw him hum during season 3 of Coca Studio India, heard his compositions and his sometimes deep lyrics, sometimes offbeat in films like Tashan, Gulaal and Gangs of Wasseypur. You’ve also seen his powerful on-screen performance – it seems there’s almost nothing Piyush Mishra can’t do. After his memorable role in Wasseypur Gangs, Mishra is seen in the highly anticipated Rani revolver.

But the road hasn’t always been easy for the 51-year-old NSD graduate. Not many people know that Mishra was scheduled to audition for the role of Prem in Maine Pyar Kiya, the film that catapulted Salman Khan to fame. Asked about it, he can’t remember why he didn’t show up for the hearing.

Raised in Gwalior, Mishra was a restless soul (a trait he shares with fellow NSD alumnus Sanjay Mishra), engaging in various art forms – from sitar play to sculpture. Eventually he moved to Delhi and joined NSD in 1986. In the years that followed he acted, wrote screenplays, and worked with people like Vishal Bhardwaj, but refused to move to Mumbai. However, when his son was three, he realized he just had to make the switch if he wanted to make any money. In an interview with Commercial standard in 2011 he said: “There were times when I felt like I was wasting my time, but I had confidence in myself. In 1998 he worked in the house of Mani Ratnam Dil Se but the performance went unnoticed. Years later, it was his role as Kakaji in Bhardwaj’s Maqbool it earned him his due. He managed to get by even when he shared space with pillars like Naseeruddin Shah. But the most memorable of his roles was that of a poet-musician who idolizes John Lennon in Anurag Kashyap. Gulaal and this is the one that has stuck with the public even after five years of its release. “Anurag is unconventional in his work and I knew I had to get to match his style,” Mishra said in the same interview.

He maintains that at his age he doesn’t expect leading roles to fall on him. Rather, he seeks roles that leave an impression. “I don’t want to be a star or be recognized in public. I’m happy to be away from the spotlight, ”he said.

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