Actor Prabhjyot Singh Thukral, who was last seen in an horror comedy Atithi Bhooto Bhava and is currently shooting in Canada for an upcoming series, is happy that he is finally getting to show his acting chops. However, he reveals that after he played the role of a drug addict, Balli, in Udta Punjab (2013), he was stereotyped that led to him facing several challenges.
“After Udta Punjab, I was just getting roles of playing the same character or a comic role. I took one two comedies because they were good projects. But now if I look back, I can say that offer hi aisi cheezein ho rahi thi. But, when you learn to say no, that is a very big thing and you are on the right path,” says the actor, adding, “As a sikh actor, I have learnt to say no to a character in which I felt ki yaar script mein mazaak udaaya jaa raha hai. Agar aaj main naa kar raha hoon toh shayad koi aur bhi na kar raha hoga. And after a point, the directors and producers will start understanding that this is not what is to be done.”
Besides getting stereotyped for being a sikh actor, the actor also expresses how “contacts and connections” in the industry play a major role in finding work. “I have faced a situation where I was being cast for a role, everything was locked and the budget was also done. But some star kid who had industry connections got cast instead of me, and mujhe bola gaya that project is on hold right now. When the project released, I thought this shouldn’t have happened. That was unfair but you can’t do anything about it. You just have to accept it,” he recounts.
Singh’s challenge as a sikh actor doesn’t end at getting stereotyped for doing comic roles as he goes on to share that he has been asked to shave his beard for certain roles. “For me, accepting an offer in which I am asked to cut my beard is very difficult, because in my religion I cannot accept that. I am open to everything, but mere religion ke khilaaf jaake ya meri audience aur mere sentiments ko break karke agar koi cheez ho rahi hai, so I can’t do that. Filmmakers aur audience ko accept karna chahiye ki sikh actors kya aur kaise hote hain. First, getting work was difficult, sometimes you don’t even get paid and then release also gets delayed. There should be some regulations regarding these things. It is not easy to survive in this industry,” he rues.
Not losing hope just yet, Singh feels there is still “a lot of progress for sikh actors in the industry in recent times. The credit goes to the audience for this acceptance. If people are seeing a sardar guy in a lead role, villain or cop, agar vo log accept kar rahe hain toh bhale hi ek filmmaker ussi stereotype main hai ya nahi hai, they will have to come out now or tomorrow.”
Crediting audiences for having evolved and become smarter, he adds, “Unhe woi comedy, repeat par nahi chahiye. It has gotten better, but it will improve even more once the industry accepts it along with the audience. OTT is helping in breaking these stereotypes, because OTT ki audience samajhdaar hai, unko raw and real content chahiye hota hai,” he ends.