Abhimanyu Singh flying high after 'Gulaal' success

By Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, April 3 (IANS) It was a long wait for Abhimanyu Singh who made an impact as the volatile and unstoppable Rajput student-leader Rananjay Singh in "Gulaal" after 10 years of struggle. He feels that the film has given him a new lease of life.

"It hasn't been easy," admits Abhimanyu as the compliments pour in. "It ('Gulaal') gave me a chance to channelise my restlessness into a character that had layers of complexity," Abhimanyu told IANS.

Directed by Anurag Kashyap, the film about student unrest and intense politicking was critically acclaimed. Thanks to "Gulaal", the actor has already signed films with Chandraprakash Dwivedi and Kashyap.

"I feel my period of struggle is finally over. Or maybe it has started all over again," Abhimanyu said.

"The first eight years in Mumbai were specially tough. I knew during the first two months of my stay that there's no point waiting for hours to meet producers. They won't meet you and definitely won't give you a role."

He found another route.

"I decided to do theatre intensely. I joined Makarand Deshpande's group Ansh. He became my guru. That's where I met Anurag Kashyap and Kay Kay Menon. These were the people who supported and inspired me," Abhimanyu said.

Meanwhile, there was television to make ends meet. Abhimanyu admits it was a frustrating time.

"There's a lot of aggression in me. It comes from my Bihari roots. I'd scream and cry in the privacy of my room. What else could I do?"

The first major feature film came courtesy fellow-Bihari actor Manoj Bajpai.

"I was in Patna when I got a call from Manoj in Mumbai saying I had got a major part in Rakeysh Mehra's 'Aks'. It was an important role of a cop."

But the film did nothing for Abhimanyu's career. The struggle began all over again.

"Recently, I had a prominent part in the (Mahesh and Mukesh) Bhatts' 'Jannat'. People appreciated me, but that was it. I'd have gone berserk if I hadn't met Sargam Singh, an actress who soon became my wife. Within a year of our marriage our daughter Ameli was born. Sargam gave up her career to look after me and our daughter," he said.

Abhimanyu's proudest moment came when his parents in Patna went and saw "Gulaal" in a movie theatre near them and appreciated his work.

"They hadn't been to see a film in 10 years. They had to see their son's performance. I was scared of what my father would think of all the abusive language and hard-hitting content. But he loved it. So did everyone back home. More than anything else it pleases me to know I've made people back home in Bihar proud of me," said the actor.

Abhimayu's proud wife could barely hold back her tears after she saw "Gulaal".

"I asked her why she didn't hug me after the film the way Aishwarya Rai hugged Abhishek when she liked his performance. I think she was too overwhelmed to show her happiness."

His daughter also saw the film with its gory adult content.

"She recognised me and clapped every time I came on the screen. Luckily, she didn't understand when I was killed on screen."

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