"Artists should give meaningful message to society"

Born into a farmer’s family, Sayaji Shinde worked as a watchman in the Maharashtra irrigation department and later as a clerk and cashier in Kurla Nagrik Sahakari Bank. But his passion was theatre.

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Geetanjali Minhas | January 9, 2019 | Mumbai


#Kurukshetra   #Shool   #Sayaji Shinde   #theatre   #bollywood  


Born into a farmer’s family, Sayaji Shinde worked as a watchman in the Maharashtra irrigation department and later as a clerk and cashier in Kurla Nagrik Sahakari Bank. But his passion was theatre. He started acting in Marathi one-act plays, and honed his skills. Later, it was movies – first in Marathi, and soon in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi. He has made his mark: he has received Marathi Filmfare award for his role in the film ‘Aboli’ and Tamil Nadu State Award for the film ‘Bharathi’. In Hindi, ‘Shool’ and ‘Kurukshetra’ earned him Filmfare nominations.

 
If not an actor you would have been: 
I never kept a second option. I became an actor after age 40. 
 
Tell us about your memorable and challenging roles:
My role as [Subramanya] Bharathi, based on the life of independence activist and Tamil social reformer, in my first film with the same name. The audience loved my role as the protagonist. llaiyaraaja, who composed music for the film, said that the film is the height of the Tamil film industry and there is nothing more to do in a Tamil film after this. People felt I may have been possessed by Bharathi’s soul to have delivered the performance! Films like ‘Arundhati’ in Telugu and ‘Gallit Gondhal Dillit Muzra’ in Marathi did very well.
 
How challenging is it to get into the character when you don’t speak the language:
It is not. I believe that the best language in the world is your mother tongue and mine is Marathi. Irrespective of the language the script has been written in, I call for its Marathi translation. When another language is written in your mother tongue you can understand its meaning. The second best language is body language. 
 
What role does an artist have in society?
Most artists believe in earning money and fame. It is a rat race where they want to outdo each other. Very few believe in entertaining society, giving back to the society and giving a meaningful message to society. Big artists endorse big brands and brands compete over each other. In my life I have seen that art alone cannot change anything in society. Society changes when you start [changing] with yourself.
 
The greatest influence in your life:
Poems and books. Books like ‘An Actor Prepares’ and ‘Building a Character’ and ‘Creating a Role’ by Konstantin Stanislavski have influenced me a lot. A poem is a meaningful, continuous overflow of emotion and very important for an actor. I have been greatly influenced by poems of Sudama Pandey, Roy Kinikar and Namdeo Dhondo Mahanor.
 
What does governance mean to you:
Learn before you teach, set an example before you teach others. Your behaviour should reflect your thinking.
 
How does the social and political climate of the country affect your creative expression?
Films are a reflection of what is happening in our society and it impacts your creative expressive in writing, direction, acting, etc.  
 
Governance issues that matter to you the most:
Government departments are very corrupt. It starts from the common man who will take money and liquor to elect his representative. Then how will we ever get good governance? Political parties openly bribe people and give them money. Their conscience has died. 
 
Major challenges country is facing today:
Peoples are using each other and making enemies. At the end of the day, it’s all about who wants what from me. From a common man to the chief minister, every man is a beggar.
 
At present you are busy with:
I am targeting to create a 50-acre nursery in each district of Maharashtra so as to plant 10,000 trees and I am looking for like-minded people. I have 25 people as of now who are doing very good work for nature. In Maharashtra we have planted almost 1.5 lakh trees at 20 places including Maan taluka, Beed, Satara and Kolhapur. We are making an app called ‘treestories.org’ which will show details of each plant and how these tree stories are making an impact. We will launch the app next year [2019].
 
Your advice to aspiring actors:
No one can help you in art. You must have your own wings and work as per your own strength. If you do good to others you will receive good in return. There are many good people in the world you just have to find them. 
 
(The interview appears in January 15, 2019 edition)

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