Bollywood star Vicky Kaushal on Friday said it was a “massive” responsibility to portray the character of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw in Meghna Gulzar’s Sam Bahadur.
The biographical drama chronicles the life and times of Manekshaw, one of India’s greatest war heroes.
“It is a massive responsibility firstly to wear an Indian Army uniform and to have a nameplate like Sam Manekshaw. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the ADGPI (Additional Directorate General of Public Information) and the Indian Army for their support.
“Every time I would meet them, they would tell me, ‘Dhang se karna, he is our best guy’. So, that pressure is always there. I would be like, ‘Hum apni puri jaan laga rahe hai’ (We will try to do our best). Fingers crossed, we have really worked hard. The responsibility is the most as an actor when you are wearing the uniform of Sam Manekshaw,” Kaushal told reporters at the teaser launch event of Sam Bahadur.
The 35-year-old actor said playing the war hero’s younger self required a lot of nuance, and the Manekshaw family helped him. Kaushal said most of the reference material available online like video interviews are of the time when Manekshaw was in his 70s.
“But when I had to play his young and mid-years, there were not many references. There are some pictures documented but not that many. So, to crack how he was during his younger days, we met his grandson a lot of times. We sat on the text, to understand how he would be talking, walking, and his body language. That process was stimulating for me as an actor.” Gulzar said she stayed true to the story of Manekshaw without taking too much creative liberty.
“For historical facts, we have relied on our research, we have not taken any liberty in that area. I believe you should not tweak history. For instance, how Sam Manekshaw would be talking to his wife in his house, we had to imagine that and understand certain things from his family… We have remained as faithful as possible to history because that is something that can’t be distorted,” the director said.
The upcoming film marks the second collaboration between Gulzar and Kaushal after the 2018 Raazi.
Kaushal praised the director for pushing him to do his best.
“When you work with directors like Meghna Gulzar, she doesn’t let you stop at the skin of the character, she makes you meet the soul of the character. I’m glad I had Meghna Gulzar guiding me for the role of a lifetime, which is of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw,” he said.
Gulzar said she was confident that Kaushal, who won critics with his portrayal of a sensitive Pakistani Army officer in Raazi, would be able to pull off the role of Manekshaw.
“I love Vicky as a person and as an actor and then you put him in the role of Sam Manekshaw, who I really adulate. I knew he would make him his own. And he will get it,” she said.
Sam Bahadur stars Sanya Malhotra as Manekshaw’s wife Silloo and Fatima Sana Shaikh as former prime minister Indira Gandhi.
Malhotra said she was thrilled to be working with Gulzar.
“I am conscious of picking up scripts (where women are playing powerful roles). I have seen women who have inspired me, so I pick up such films where other girls can get inspired and motivated. All this is purely based on luck and destiny.
“I got it because of luck and my good kismet that I got a call from Meghna ma’am. When she told me, ‘Read this (script), I was like, ‘I don’t even want to read it, I want to do it’. I read it in one go so that I can call her immediately and say, ‘I’m on it, call me on the sets as soon as possible’,” the actor said.
Fatima said the film will enlighten the younger generation about India’s history. “The younger generation, when they see the film, they will get to know what all has happened in our country,” she said.