Exclusive! ‘And Tomorrow Will Be Dead’ Actor Dara Sandhu: ‘I Had Never Been Given The Opportunity To Play An Antagonist Before This’

Exclusive! ‘And Tomorrow Will Be Dead’ Actor Dara Sandhu: ‘I Had Never Been Given The Opportunity To Play An Antagonist Before This’

Nawaz Kochra

The OTT space has not just opened a door of amazing content to us, it also brought us close to some amazing talents. And one such great talent is actor and writer, Dara Sandhu who we saw in Masaba Masaba. Well, the man is one talented person who has several skills up his sleeve. Recently, Dara starred in the European film And Tomorrow Will Be Dead and his antagonist avatar has surely left a lot of people impressed. Other than this, Dara has also trained in different accents which only adds to his performances.

I recently caught up with Sandhu talking about his skills, his roles, and his upcoming projects. Here are the excerpts from his interview:

On his journey as an actor, writer, and director...

I have been acting since school. My close friends call me dramebaaz since childhood. I have continued performing on stage ever since. Writing came about right after college when I wrote and published a non-fiction work called 'value of a home'. I enjoyed the process of writing and decided to try my hand at fiction next. I wrote some poems, short stories and then a full length feature film completely with Hindi dialogues. When my friends read the feature film, they liked it a lot and encouraged me to not only continue writing but also to assist on a film to discover whether I would enjoy the direction side of film making. I focus on acting and writing as it's where my strong suits lie and maybe in the future it will lead to directing, but I have my plate full for now.

On his role in And Tomorrow Will Be Dead...

The film's director, Michael Steiner, has an amazing body of work. He is one of the most popular European filmmakers. It was a dream come true to work with him on a project of this magnitude. The movie is a real-life story and is a shocking revelation. Besides, playing O'marra was a huge challenge and it was exciting to transform for this part. In India we mostly visualize and portray such characters as one dimensional negative characters. Thankfully that wasn't the director's vision and treatment in this film. My character is scary and unpredictable at times and then shows a more human side all of a sudden. It really allowed me to portray a range of emotions. The number of teary-eyed people that walked up to me after the premiere in Zurich to tell me how much they loved my performance was a very special feeling. I had never been given the opportunity to play an antagonist before this. I am grateful to my casting directors Nandini Shrikent and Karan Mally to be able to visualize me in this role and give me the opportunity to play a character outside of my immediate visual and social profile.

On his experience of working on this film...

While shooting the film nobody could have dreamt that a year later Afghanistan would fall into such turmoil. What started as a film that tells the story of 2 hostages under Taliban, became a story also about the people of Afghanistan and the harsh realities of their lives. Even when the 2 swiss tourists escape, the film forces the viewer to think about the millions who are doomed to live their lives out in the country. We were also very particular that none of the Afghani characters in the film are to be shown as purely negative people. The survivors had a grueling experience spending 8 months in captivity but they also talk about the many moments of humanity they were repeatedly shown by their captors. We trained with acting coach Giles Foreman, who trains well-established actors and one of the primary things we worked on was ensuring that my character had such a compelling backstory that at no point did I feel like my actions were evil or incorrect. By the time I was on set I truly believed the world that I came from required me to kidnap these two swiss tourists. It was the only way my character could survive his poverty. As far as scene preparation was concerned, I could say most of the dialogues in my sleep. It was the first time I got to do some action on a film set, having only done it on stage before and I enjoyed the challenge of working with the camera.

On talking in Pashto for his role...

I have a natural tendency to pick up accents and languages fairly quickly. I travel a lot and often find myself imitating accents from the places I visit. I have been to Kashmir several times and always speak with the locals in their accent. It's not too far from the way Pashto can sound. It's always intimidating at first but if you push yourself you pick it up fairly quickly. Learning your Pashto lines is one thing, but remembering the nuances of each word's pronunciations during those high impact scenes can be quite challenging. You get entirely engrossed in the scene and forget the correct tonality for some words in high performance scenes. But I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and did not find it difficult for the most part.

On his upcoming projects...

I am considering projects in India and abroad at the moment but I am not rushing into anything that I don't think will allow much scope for performance. We often focus more on quantity than quality and I make a conscious effort to not fall into that trap. Even if I have done 10 powerful roles by the end of my career I would consider that a win over doing 50 parts that go unnoticed in projects I'm not proud of. I am currently focusing on completing my next novel titled 'Mahashakti'. It is a political saga and sci-fi adventure based in the year 2090. It is a story of a young Indian scientist who finds himself at the helm of national and global politics. He helps India navigate through the imminent climate and natural resource crisis we are steadfastly headed towards by coming up with creative and scientific inventions. I have kept the tone of the book light but I also hope it is an insight not only to the problems of a sustainable future, but also a mirror and a motivation for the young people of our country who need to stand up to the challenge and try to make a difference in the world, and hopefully have the courage to change many of the old ways that are failing us

On Masaba Masaba and being an assistant director for Aye Dil Hain Mushkil...

Masaba Masaba is directed by the supremely talented Ms. Sonam Nair and I really liked the easy-breezy and laid back tone of the show. It's reminiscent of the Bombay we grew up in. It was great fun acting in it and I really enjoyed my scenes with Ms. Neena Gupta. Assisting on Ae Dil Hain Mushkil on the other hand was a larger than life experience. We shot in England, Paris, Austria, Rajasthan and Mumbai and I got to watch some of the most talented actors in our country up close. It was a delight assisting Mr Karan Johar. His natural grasp over the emotional requirements of a scene and his understanding of music and storytelling is impeccable.  He is one of the sharpest, funniest and kindest people I have had the honor of working with.

Dara's film received great appreciation in the film festival circuit, and his European film was released on 28th October this year.