Superstars like Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan have played romantic, villainous and action-oriented roles, but the chance to maintain such a variety on screen does not come easily to character artistes, says acclaimed actor Sanjay Mishra, who has regaled Indian cinema-goers with his ability to emote with sharp wit and intensity.
Sanjay, who has this year featured in films as varied as 'Masaan', 'Miss Tanakpur Haazir Ho', 'Meeruthiya Gangsters' and 'Prem Ratan Dhan Payo' and will now be seen in the multi-starrer 'Dilwale', rued that character artistes don't have the freedom to choose roles and so, they often get slotted in a particular genre.
Asked if the industry slots actors in genres, Sanjay told IANS: "Definitely! When a producer puts his money into a film, and he feels that Sanjay Mishra fits in a particular role, then he will cast me for that. But then sometimes, people like Neeraj Ghaywan and Rajat Kapoor notice and think that 'I see this actor in a different light".
"So, a new era of cinema is coming, in which I'm being offered a lot of serious roles."
Sanjay, who is remembered and loved for playing characters like Shukla, the corrupt, paan-loving employee in television series 'Office Office'; RGV popular for the dialogue 'Dhondu just chill' from the film 'All the Best: Fun Begins'; and nagging father Chandra Prakash Tiwari in 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha', says the cinema industry doesn't take risks.
"Our cinema world takes very little risk because cinema was never ours... Cinema came from the sea side," said Sanjay, whose movie 'Masaan' was lauded internationally this year. The 52-year-old felt a lot of the slotting in the industry is done on the basis of one's looks and past repertoire.
"Filmmakers and producers used to say that if a person has done something (in the past), give him something similar only, or 'He does very good comic roles, so give him comedy' or even that 'He looks tall, has long hair and looks aggressive, so make him a villain'. So, that's what I was doing," the actor added.
He credits Rajat Kapoor's 'Aankhon Dekhi' as a turning point.
"With 'Aankhon Dekhi', another ground opened for me," said the actor, who carried out the role of a man in his late fifties, in the film, effortlessly.
Comedy is also something that comes naturally to Sanjay, who is a nuanced actor with training from the National School of Drama. But not all actors like being called 'comedians'.
Sanjay, who has tickled the audience's funny bone with films like 'Golmaal' and 'Dhamaal', said: "I feel that if you call yourself an actor, your canvas becomes big and if you call yourself just a comedian, the canvas becomes really small. But... an actor is an actor --- he can do comedy and action or anything because he's an actor."
After 'Dilwale', which released on Friday, Sanjay will be seen in 'Great Grand Masti' and 'Baaghi'.