New Delhi, Nov 8: Actor Vicky Kaushal said on Tuesday he initially thought he was not good looking enough for the role of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw in filmmaker Meghna Gulzar’s “Sam Bahadur”.
At the film’s trailer launch event held at the Manekshaw Centre here, Kaushal said Gulzar told him about her desire to make the biopic on Manekshaw during the shooting of their 2018 film “Raazi”.
“I remember when Meghna and I were working on ‘Raazi’, then during a shooting schedule in Patiala she told me what she wanted to do next. And she said she wants to make a film on Sam Manekshaw,” Kaushal said.
“My mother and father are both from Punjab, and through them, I had heard a lot about him. But I didn’t know how he looked. So during that conversation, I secretly Googled him and saw his photo. I said, ‘He is very handsome and I will not get this role.’ But I have to thank Meghna for giving me the role of this handsome person,” he added. The trailer was launched in presence of Army Chief General Manoj Pande. Kaushal’s co-actors Sanya Malhotra, Fatima Sana Shaikh, director Gulzar and producer Ronnie Screwvala also attended the event.
“Sam Bahadur” will span Manekshaw’s career of over 40 years, including significant milestones, from fighting in World War II to being the Chief of Army Staff during the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war, that led to the creation of Bangladesh, according to the makers.
Playing the titular part was not easy for Kaushal, he said.
“It is the toughest role of my life, not because of the way he talked and walked but because of the man he was. This was an attempt to live that life. It is obviously a team effort,” he added.
The actor said his attempt with the character was to bring out his compassionate nature on the big screen.
“In one of his interviews, he was asked about the biggest achievement of his career of 40 years. And he said, ‘In my career, from second lieutenant to field marshall, I have never punished a soldier.’ And that compassion, especially when you have all the power and strength, and feeling for every jawan is what made him a hero to me.
“That swag, style and charisma was there but at the end that heart was also there. He had a compassionate heart and that is what I was trying to aim for,” he added.
As part of the preparation, Kaushal said he had to work on the physical aspects of the character but capturing the spirit was the aim. “Sometimes when you’re playing, you don’t realise the things that you are doing. Of course, I remember how he walked and talked, how much he would bend and sit. Before we started shooting, Meghna and I spent at least five hours every day for three months reading, watching his interviews and discussing Sam.
“To catch his spirit, mindset and strength of the man, it came with a lot of reading and meeting his family members, who were really helpful. After all this, we put together and thought this is our Sam Manekshaw,” he added.
On reuniting with Gulzar, Kaushal said they developed a level of trust during “Raazi” and nothing has changed since then.
“Meghna is home for me… I have such a bond with her that it feels like a film… I trust her instincts and judgment…. She makes a film on paper and then goes on the floor.”
“Sam Bahadur” also stars Sanya Malhotra as Manekshaw’s wife Silloo and Fatima Sana Shaikh as former prime minister Indira Gandhi. (PTI)