Saurabh Shukla: Roles like a lead, so why no part in promotions?

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Mumbai, March 22 -- Having played a variety of supporting characters, actor Saurabh Shukla is one of Bollywood's finest. With films such as Satya, PK, Jolly LLB (parts 1 and 2) in his kitty, Shukla has a huge fan base. 

While his roles come under the 'supporting' category, they have mostly had the same heft as the lead. The latest example is Raid, where Shukla's corrupt, menacing antagonist has equal weight as Ajay Devgn's righteous protagonist.

The question is: why do we not see such a seasoned and popular actor, playing such pivotal roles, when the films are promoted across India through public interaction?

"That's not entirely true, because I'm called for the promotions of the films here and there," says the actor, who will be seen next in Daas Dev.

Other powerful character actors such as Pankaj Tripathi, Sanjay Mishra, Pavan Malhotra, and Manoj Joshi are also mostly missing from the promotional scene, though they're central to a film, e.g. Tripathi's cynical CRPF officer lit up the screen in Newton (2017). But it was Rajkummar Rao, in the titular role, who was everywhere.

"We mustn't forget the popularity of a star - that you can't deny. A star has a much bigger audience bank and people are more interested in [their] life," explains Shukla.

He recalls how, 15 years ago, people didn't want to know about him so much, "but now, they want to know a little more about me. It's the popularity quotient and has nothing to do with your talent or art."

The 55-year-old actor points out that film promotions are led by marketing strategies, "hence, they're film-centric and not actor-centric. So, I'm not sure if it should be felt that if I don't go for the film's promotion, I haven't been given my due". He adds, "I've been lucky that I got to do some films that were very well-written, got brilliant parts to play, and had great coactors on my side."