Satya Bhabha on playing Saleem Sinai in `Midnight`s Children`
New Delhi: Working on `Midnight`s Children` has changed many things for Satya Bhabha.
The British-born actor, whose father, Professor Homi K Bhabha, is from India, says the film brought him closer to his Indian legacy and Mumbai, a city where his parent and the character -- Saleem Sinai grew up.
"It is an incredible character and it`s an honour to be the visual representation of Saleem Sinai, who has lived in the imagination of so many people," says Satya on playing the lead in Salman Rushdie`s Booker of Bookers winning novel.
The 29-year-old actor, whose previous credit includes 2010 movie `Scott Pilgrim vs the World`, says he got a chance to explore Mumbai while researching on his character.
"I have not spent much time in India and certainly not on my own ever before. But this time, I was not in the city with my family, for a wedding or Navjot. Mumbai is a challenging city but I found myself there in a way that I had never been before. Now, when I get off the plane, it feels like I am coming home which is an incredible feeling," Satya told reporters.
Deepa cast Satya as the lead in her multistarrer, being released in India on February 1 by PVR Pictures, after a very informal meeting.
"Deepa and I met through a colleague. Our first meeting was extremely social one. Somewhere, I guess, Deepa saw in me the sense of the character that she was looking for. That was the beginning we kept on meeting and sorting things after that," says Satya.
The first step for the actor was to "figure out a lot of facts, Hindi and Indian history".
"After that it was about finding key connection points between me and my character`s life and replacing my memory with the memory of this character."
Rushdie`s book has been often described as unfilmable because of its mammoth scale and the fascinating unravelling of incidents in protagonist`s life which are closely linked to the major events of India.
On his part, Bhabha struggled to understand the character, who has had the most extraordinary life possible.
"I think, Saleem is not 100 per cent clear in the novel. You understand a lot about what he feels and what he says but you don`t have anyone speaking about him. I think, Saleem is something of an enigma. Understanding him as a person was a bit more challenging.
"There is something very meaningful for me personally, as well as for India, where the book is set, and also for England where I grew up."
Deepa shot the book undercover in Sri Lanka under `Winds on Change`, which the director called the "most ridiculous alias". Satya says their primary goal everyday on the sets was to get the shot.
A graduate of Yale university, Satya hails from a family of academicians but he was bitten by the acting bug quite early. He credits his grandmother for inspiring him to become an actor.
"My grandmother is the most amazing and wonderful woman in this universe. She lives in Mumbai and she used to act in the Parsi theatre when she was young. She really instilled in me a love for all things theatrical. Whenever she would come to London, she would take me to street plays an musicals."
The film has been travelling to festivals after screening at Toronto International Film Festival, where Deepa currently lives. It has already released in the US and the UK to good response from the audience.
Ask Satya whether he has been able to sit back and enjoy his performance yet and he says, "I don`t think I will be able to enjoy the film as an audience because it is very personal to me and mixed with my own experiences of making the film."
But he believes the film will connect with the audience because "it opens your eyes and your heart. There is something for everybody. There is beautiful lush photography, very moving family drama and also ot of history in it."