By Ruchika Kher
Mumbai, Sep 5 (IANS) Known for doing intense roles, actor Sonu Sood plays a young politician in upcoming film "Dabangg". But he reveals that he was actually supposed to play the lead role, now being essayed by Salman Khan.
"The film was brought to me before Salman came on board. Initially I was supposed to do Salman's role of a cop... but when he decided to be a part of the film, I was offered the role of the youth politician that I'm now playing," Sonu told IANS in an interview.
The actor, whose acting skills came to the fore in films like "Yuva" and "Jodhaa Akbar", says he is not afraid of being overshadowed by the superstar.
"I'm not scared that I'll get overshadowed in the film because of the presence of Salman. I completely trust Abhinav Kashyap, the director, who was Mani Ratnam's assistant director during 'Yuva'.
"I know him since those days. Also, the character I'm playing is quite strong; so being sidelined was something that never bothered me," said Sonu, whose character in the film is named Cheddi Singh.
Directed by Kashyap and produced by Salman's younger brother, actor Arbaaz Khan, "Dabangg" is set to hit screens Sep 10. Apart from Salman and Sonu, the film also stars Shatrughan Sinha's daughter Sonakshi, Om Puri, Dimple Kapadia, Vinod Khanna and Mahesh Manjrekar among others.
Sonu calls his character in the film a modern-day Gabbar Singh of "Sholay" fame. The actor adds that he got into the skin of his character by recalling the mannerisms of some of his classmates from engineering college.
"Cheddi Singh is a very powerful guy in his area and is very unpredictable. He is like a modern Gabbar. He rules the place he is in. But then things change for him when Salman's character makes an entry," the 37-year-old said.
"When I was doing my engineering, I had a lot of friends from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar who were into youth politics; so I know the body language of people from that area. I know how they react to things, their mannerisms...That actually helped me get into the skin of my character," he added.
Sonu, who made his Bollywood debut with "Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh" in 2002, was better noticed as Abhishek Bachchan's brother in Mani Ratnam's "Yuva" (2004). He then went on to do films like "Aashiq Banaya Aapne" (2005), "Sheesha" (2005), "Siskiyaan" (2005) and more recently "Singh Is Kinng" (2008) and "Jodhaa Akbar" (2008) among others.
Even though the actor is hungry for more meaty roles, he is happy that he has been able to survive in the industry so long.
"I'm happy with the way my career is moving but still there's a lot of hunger in me to do more...I want lots more to be offered to me. But still I'm happy with what I've achieved because it wasn't easy for a person like me, who is not from a film background, to come and get work in the industry," Sonu said.
"Now I just work on my survival tactics. I only do films that really excite me as an actor. I give 100 percent to my character, I do rehearsals, I get involved and give my inputs to the director too. Also, I'm very focused that this is the place for me. I have nowhere else to go and I have to survive in this industry by hook or by crook. I take this as a challenge," he added.
(Ruchika Kher can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)