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Maharani is not inspired from any real politician, says Amit Sial

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The actor, who is having a fine run in web-series, is glad that his work is getting liked by the audience.

Amit Sial in Maharani

Keyur Seta

Amit Sial has been one of the more notable artistes in the web-series sphere over the past couple of years, delivering high-quality performances in a series of shows like Inside Edge (both seasons), Jamtara, Mirzapur (both seasons), Hostages (both seasons), A Simple Murder and the recently released Kathmandu Connection. He will now be seen in SonyLIV’s political drama Maharani.

Looking back on his journey, Sial, in an exclusive interview, said, “There was a time when I had to accept some offers so that the ATM doesn’t slap me when I visit. Sometimes you are compelled to work for money. But these days, luck is in my favour. I think my characters and the way I play them is being liked by the audience.

“Earlier, it was like beggars can’t be choosers," he quipped. "I didn’t have much to choose. There was no OTT. I used to work sincerely in whichever project I received.”

Huma Qureshi in Maharani

In Maharani, Sial is playing a politician who is on the opposite side of Sohum Shah’s character of Bihar's fictional chief minister. “There is this competition going on about who will be the chief minister [after Shah’s character gets bedridden]. As is evident from the trailer, Huma [Qureshi], who plays Maharani, becomes the CM. How my character tries to establish power is the rest of the story,” he said.

Sial believes that the ‘in-depth’ and ‘Shakespearean’ writing of the show is its USP. “The show is not just about political rivalry," he said. "It also has fine detailing in political procedure and the lives of politicians. Sometimes, what is right starts appearing wrong, and vice-versa. The grey area has been explored very well. The Shakespearean way of narrating the tale will be appreciated by the audience.”

Sial has played all kinds of characters — positive, negative, and those with grey shades. He says he doesn’t follow any specific process to prepare for his roles. “I read it once or twice, understand what I need to do, and then I go on the sets unprepared, so that I can open up,” he said of his method.

But Maharani was an exception. “I had to focus more in this show,” he said. “Politicians have a specific way of speaking, not just in speeches but also in person. I hadn’t done any such thing before.” 

Sohum Shah in Maharani

As soon as the teaser for Maharani was released, there was speculation in the media and on social media about whether the story was inspired from any real-life politician. But Sial said, “No yaar, this is not the case. It’s just speculation. Independent Indians of independent India are just writing their own thoughts [on social media]. It’s a fictional story. As it’s based on politics, some people might find some reference with someone or the other. The writer Subhash Kapoor is well-versed with politics and has great command over it. He is an ex-journalist.”

When it comes to signing films, the script matters the most now to Sial. “As someone who has seen life for 45 years, one starts thinking of references," he said. "It’s an organic process. Whenever someone offers me a project, it’s necessary that it should resonate with me. It’s a feeling, so it has to be something organic."

During Sial’s growing up years, he was fascinated by Amitabh Bachchan’s films as only larger-than-life films used to be made back then. “So, we didn’t see those ‘art’ films. But later I realized I need to take films seriously and more than as a hobby. We then started watching Naseer bhai [Naseeruddin Shah], Irrfan [Khan] bhai,” he said. 

“We used to love working in theatre then," he continued. "But I didn’t understand acting like I do now. Then I started watching European cinema. They have some amazing artistes.”

About his forthcoming projects, Sial said, “I have Inside Edge 3. I had done a film [Aafat-e-Ishq] for Zee5. Apart from me, it has Deepak Dobriyal, Namit Das and Neha Sharma. It was announced earlier but then COVID [second wave] happened and it got delayed.”

Created by Subhash Kapoor and directed by Karan Sharma, Maharani will be streamed on SonyLIV from 28 May.

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