The recently commenced annual 60th BFI London Film Festival celebrates cinema from around the world with an eclectic mix of genres, styles and stories.
One interesting film that beat off tough global competition to be chosen for the prestigious event is You Are My Sunday. The Indian coming-of-age drama about friendship has a talented cast including popular actor Barun Sobti, who has made the leap from television superstardom to the big screen.
Like the rest of the team, Barun is thrilled at the film being given such a prestigious platform and thinks it is well-deserved because of the journey it has been on.
Eastern Eye caught up with the charismatic actor with a global fan base to talk about You Are My Sunday, his character, future projects, inspirations and more.
How are you selecting the projects you choose to do?
I read a lot, so I have a good sense of text when I read the scripts. When I think I can do a particular role well, I pick it up.
What did you like in particular about You Are My Sunday?
What I loved most was the challenge of the scenes that were written in a very real fashion. A lot of this film is actually not dialogue between two people. There was interplay between several of the characters, talking over each other, doing their own thing and arguing. When I saw these scenes, I thought it would be a great challenge to play them. So that’s what I loved most about the film. The writing is great.
Tell us about your character?
I am playing Arjun Anand, who is a very simple guy. He is well educated, but at the same time he is wise and knows exactly what to expect from his life. He takes some decisions which will not go down well with a lot of people in the world today because much of it is about competition and moneymaking. So in that sense he knows what he wants. He takes his own decisions and charts his own path.
Which is your favourite moment in the film?
I really like so many, and I couldn’t say a particular moment from my own role because I wouldn’t be able to give you a fair judgement. But what I did really like about the film was when I was done watching it the first time, I also fell in love with the character I played, which is something that usually doesn’t happen because I can clearly disconnect the character from myself. But I really loved the character. I think everyone, including (co-stars) Avinash (Tiwary) and Vishal (Malhotra), have done awesomely well. There are scenes of theirs I have absolutely loved.
Low-budget dramas like these offer various challenges during production. What was it like getting it made?
The film has been quite a while in the making. (Writer/director) Milind (Ohai-made) has worked very hard to get this movie made and then released. It’s a great thing that this movie is doing so well and being recognised everywhere across the world wherever it has gone because he struggled to get it made.
He had gone to various producers who had, at times, attempted to alter the script or tweak it a little, but Milind was adamant that he was not going to change it and was always going to shoot it the way he wanted. So he’s had a really difficult time making this and I really hope it pays off. He’s a very sensible guy and this is a brilliant film. I hope it does well.
What was your reaction when you heard that it was selected for the London Film Festival?
Initially I didn’t know, actually. Events unfolded one by one and we didn’t know how big a deal it was until we started realising it was making a lot of noise over in London. But I am really happy and excited to be a part of the festival. I’m looking forward to it, to be honest with you.
You have been to London before. How do UK fans compare to others around the world?
(Laughs) They are very vocal.
The film is called You Are My Sunday. What do you like to do on a Sunday?
Actually like in the film, I do usually play a game of football on Sunday to start the day. I like to eat out during the day and stay at home in the evening.
It has a football theme. How much do you follow the sport yourself?
I don’t follow a lot of football and cricket, actually. I used to be-fore, but I don’t any more. But I play both of them a lot.
Where does your sporty side come from?
I have been blessed with a lot of time on the field throughout my school days. So I think that’s where my passion for sports perhaps set in. If you are talking about genetics or something, my mother was really sporty, but my dad was not at all. (Laughs) The only sports my dad plays, I think, is cards.
Have you got used to the fact that you have got such a huge global fan base?
(Laughs) You can’t get used to it. There is no practice or formula for that. At times, it even gets a little bit too much to handle. When I was shooting my show we didn’t get a lot of time to spend outside. We used to film 12 hours every day in the studio, go back home and then come back to work the next day. I didn’t interact with a lot of people at that time (or now). So when I came out for shows or live events, it was like a blitzkrieg had hit me. But I am getting used to it now.
You always receive a lot of votes in Eastern Eye’s annual list of 50 Sexiest Asian Men and are a permanent fixture in the top 10. How do you feel about that?
I tell you it’s flattering, but to be honest, I don’t consider myself sexy, or anything in that sense. If you ask my opinion, I would consider myself more of a hardworking person. (Laughs) But any appreciation is welcome.
What would you say is your biggest inspiration and motivation today?
To be honest, it’s the decisions that I have taken in my life. I don’t look at anyone else to be motivated. I don’t have an idol or anything like that, so the motivating thing for me is whatever decisions I have taken in my career so far. They may have taken a little while, but have panned out right. I would have been in for a lot of criticism if they hadn’t turned out my way. So right now the most motivational thing for me is that I am doing the right thing and it is turning out well.
It seems like the whole world knows how famous you are except for you. What keeps you so grounded?
It is perhaps that I took the right lessons from life at the right time. I have seen a few people before I became popular who took their fame too seriously and lost it. That’s a very ugly thing and I really hate ugly. I think that’s why I’ve just embraced normality. To be honest, you are who you are. It is just that the appreciation and the criticism is going to come and go. So you have to live as yourself and not as the accepted version of you that is out there.
Do you have a dream role that you would love to play?
I am doing all of them right now.
Which other confirmed projects do you have on the way?
After You Are My Sunday I have a film I’m completing called 22 Yards, which is based on a cricket agent’s life. It’s shaping up really well. I am looking forward to that. Then I am doing a web series and will be doing a finite series on TV next year.
Are you allowed to tell about the finite series or is it top-secret?
It is not top-secret, trust me. But it’s in the early stages right now and I haven’t officially signed on yet. All the formalities and everything else are done, but I know there are things going on. I’m really looking forward to it and hope everyone likes it.
How much do your fans mean to you?
Every human being is important to me, every person that I meet. You cannot judge someone you haven’t seen or met. When I meet someone I always greet them respectfully and with love. I really appreciate the fact that they like the work I do. That puts us on the same wavelength because I am doing stuff so people like it. If the audience like it, then they understand what I am saying. So it is good to meet people like that.
Why should we all watch You Are My Sunday at the London Film Festival?
Well, I think it will be a big loss if you don’t watch the film. It’s a brilliant movie. The first time I watched it I was speechless. It’s a fantastic coming-of-age film and I am sure that you will love it too. There’s no reason for anyone to not watch it.
Finally, why do you love cinema?
You know, much like this world that we live in was created, cinema is very close to that process of creation from a higher power. We are recreating and creating. That is why I love it. We get to create new worlds.
You Are My Sunday is showing at the 60th BFI London Film Festival, which runs until Sunday (October 16). It will be screened next Saturday (15) and next Sunday in central London. For ticket details and for more information, log onto www.bfi.org/lff.