Danish Sait is a busy man. Correction. Busier than regular. The comic and actor, who has seen a surge in reputation in the course of the lockdown because of his movies that includes characters equivalent to Jaya and Rammurthy avare and an ever-evolving collection of props doubling as telephones (LPG cylinders and chairs have joined the fray), has been fielding calls and giving interviews as he will get prepared for the discharge of his Kannada movie French Biriyani, co-starring Sal Yusuf, on Amazon Prime Video on July 24.
Talking about the movie, Danish says, “French Biriyani is a funny film. It follows a bunch of characters who come together in a strange world when a bag is lost and a passenger is stuck with an auto driver from Bengaluru. It is their journey in finding that bag. It is not a film you watch and go (switches to his slightly rich friends voice) ‘Oh my God, what a marvellous piece of art this is’. You are not going to look at it and go, ‘That particular scene made me ponder about life and think about what I’m doing with my existence at the moment’.”
He provides with amusing, “It is a two-hour film. Just have fun. Laugh your head off and go to sleep. Wake up the next day feeling fresh. I think with the times we live in now, we could do with something like this. The times are grey and blue, and here we are with a rainbow for you.”
The significance of public transport
Danish performs Asgar, an autorickshaw driver from Shivajinagar. “I always say this. Public transport is important because it is literally one of the first and consistent faces that people meet when they go to a big city — be it the taxis of New York, the metros in Dubai or Thailand’s tuk-tuks. So, playing an auto driver was to play an important part of our society. And I played with observations I have made over the years. The funny bone in me doesn’t let me say, ‘I’m going to do this and stick to black and white’. I’ve thrown in my own little flavour into it and I hope that when people watch it, they see their observations meet mine.”
So, did this imply that the director, Pannaga Bharana, allowed room for improvisation? “A lot of stuff is improvised, especially when you have me on set. Most directors, besides the script, also rely on me to improvise and come up with stuff while I am on location. I love improvising on set. This has been a different process for me compared to Humble Politician Nograj, which I co-write. French Biriyani’s script was someone else’s as were the lines. I just had to play my part as an actor. It is another person’s vision and I am a part of the effort to bring it to reality.”
With French Biriyani being launched on-line, as theatres stay closed, does Danish assume this would be the norm for the foreseeable future? “I have a slightly more self-aware answer to this. I know I don’t have the star power to pull an audience into the theatre amidst a pandemic. So, no matter how funny I am and how many people like and share my stuff, I don’t think I have it in me to pull them out of the house in the midst of the pandemic and say, ‘Hey guys, I made a film. Come to the theatre! I don’t think people will show up and it wouldn’t be fair for me to ask it of them. Having said that, I feel with smaller films, accountability comes into focus. For producers who invest in films, at least their investments are secure. Today, I am sitting down days before the release of my film feeling absolutely fine. Of course, I’m nervous (about audience reactions etc). But an investment in a film is a lot of money, right? And I don’t think I would be able to sleep in peace if I knew that a producer’s investment in a film is at harm because of me in any way. Theatrical releases are a little nerve-wracking in that sense.”
On cricket, conceal and search
While there has appeared to be no dearth of fabric to mine ever since he began making his movies in the course of the lockdown, Danish has, of late, moved on to different subjects equivalent to ‘Conversations at building cricket’ and ‘Conversations at hide and seek’.
“Somebody, somewhere is discussing or playing it. And I’m just trying to make a mix of whatever world I can. How much am I going to keep talking about corona? The world has spoken about it, we are all aware of it. Okay we get it man, move on to something else. That is why I started mixing it up now.”
Laughing as he displays on how his fan base has grown, he says, “I didn’t expect it go that nuts. So many people on Twitter are asking, ‘What is this kood-ka, goot-ka. Kya hain meaning?’ I feel like for the longest time, we have picked up language and slang from other places and now people are trying to pick up ours. And it is so cute to see them learn and figure out what the words mean.”
Adding that he has no plans of discontinuing making the movies, he says: “I am very happy because it keeps me busy, it keeps me engaged. The saying that an empty mind (sic) is the devil’s workshop is absolutely true in my case.”