For actor Sunny Hinduja, The Family Man has become his life. After playing Milind in the Raj and DK created espionage thriller, Sunny has been flooded with immense love. “An actor just wants a bit of respect and acknowledgement. I’m very happy I’m finally receiving it,” Sunny said in an candid chat with indianexpress.com.
An FTII alumnus, Sunny first faced the camera for a film titled Cycle Kick that was shot during his days at the institute in 2006. Being around for over a decade, he has been a part of projects like Pinky Memsaab, Long Live Brij Mohan, Valentine’s Night, Home, Bhaukaal, Rasbhari, Jamun, Mum Bhai and more.
In Family Man, Milind plays a TASC officer along with Srikant Tiwari (Manoj Bajpayee). His character plays a crucial role in The Family Man season 2, which released on June 4. While Milind became a turning point in Sunny’s career, The Family Man 2’s success took things to greater heights for the Indore-born actor.
The Family Man arrived days after Sunny was already basking in the success TVF series Aspirants, where he played Sandeep Bhaiya.
Just when audience was loving Sandeep Bhaiya, Milind rose like a phoenix in The Family Man 2. Were you ready for the tsunami, or you think if the two projects were spaced out, the impact would’ve been longer?
This tsunami took 12 years to come and that long experience is helping me stay afloat today. By the grace of God, my diverse projects arrived together. These things aren’t in my hands so I’ll just move with the flow. I think success means peace and happiness wherever you are. And as Sandeep bhaiya says, “Life ka fulfillment toh balance mein hai.”
What do you say to fans who wish to know more about the real man behind these popular characters?
Being yourself can be your best quality. Earlier, I had a small family including close friends, who saw my work and appreciated me, but now I have a bigger family. I will take it as a responsibility. That’s also assuring for me to believe that whatever I’ve been doing till date has been good. I know even if I make a mistake, the support of people will pull me out of any situation.
The Family Man 1 ended on a huge cliffhanger as we wondered whether Zoya and Milind survived the gas leak. When you read all the fan theories, did you feel nervous about living up to their expectations?
The script of season two is amazing. That’s also an important plot point about what happens with my character in the story after the first season. He is suffering from PTSD. He was created with the influence of several elements including my co-stars Manoj sir and Sharib. I was never scared about audience’s acceptance. I trusted my directors.
But when you finally got to know that Milind is going to die in season two, did you feel sad?
Yes I did initially. But his death was an important thing for the plot. The love I’ve received has overtaken all that sadness. They’ve dealt with Milind’s character very sensitively. I think if a character needs to die in a show, he should get a hero’s death like Milind.
Let’s go back in time. Tell me how did you come onboard The Family Man? Raj and DK prefer actors over stars. Was that a reason?
Before The Family Man, I wasn’t getting good roles in films. You know taking a new face is risky. But we started getting meaty roles on web. Raj and DK are legends. They took out time and explained me the character. I had always been a fan of their work. So I was sold there in the first place. I was little apprehensive about my role, but when you understand the intent, the collaboration becomes important. I thought if I’m getting a chance with them, how can I not agree?
Of course the role wasn’t that big initially, and they told me they are developing it, and I trusted them. They worked on it and made it longer. And then there was Padma Sri Manoj Bajpayee! Even if I get to stand in the same frame with him, it would’ve been enough for me. Luckily I got to do some scenes with him too.
Raj and Dk are genre-leaning filmmakers today. What did you learn while working with them?
Raj and DK are the flag-bearers of new-age cinema. Their kind of humour is very distinct. They don’t tell you what to do. But they’ll definitely tell you what not to do. They are even mind-blowing editors. When you know about the editing part, you are clear what exactly to shoot. They’ve approached their work in this industry in a planned way. I really respect that.
Raj and DK also specialise in taking long single shots. And you’ve been part of two such sequences – the hospital fight scene in season one and Raji’s rescue sequence in season two. Take me through the process and retakes.
Raj and DK just tell us to perform. All the action is in their mind. They do tell us about the choreography and the DoP also helps. Our rehearsals are like takes. From camera movement to people who are doing action, you have to be very careful and hit the right mark at correct timing. It’s a very tedious task, but they have mastery over that.
At several places, Manoj Bajpayee has credited the supporting cast for the show’s success and expressed happiness with the growth of each actor. How did you react when he appreciated you?
It means the world to me. He texted me recently lauding my work. He’s taught all of us so much. He’s the real family man and he’s made us his family. He taught me not take oneself seriously, but the craft. So if you think my performance is good, I’ll credit him for teaching me so many things. I hope everyone gets a co-star like him.
Going forward, will it be a bigger responsibility to pick roles wisely?
My frequency with people I’ll work with, needs to match since you spend 24 hours with them for several months. Then comes the script and then your role. It’s in that order. But I think the kind of options coming to me have definitely improved.
What did you learn in your decade long journey?
I’ve learned empathy and not to have preconceived notions. No person is wrong, situations are wrong. So never judge a person.
Tell me a character you wish more people watch from your past projects.
I did a docudrama on the life of Ravindra Kaushik, directed by Raghav Dhar, my senior from FTII. That’s special to me. Then there is Ballad of Rustom, which was a life changing project. It was even shortlisted for Oscars, but it didn’t reach the nominations. It hasn’t released yet. It’s just been screened at some festivals.
Lastly, how much are you going to miss playing Milind?
The Family Man will always remain a part of my life. I hang out a lot with Shreya (Dhanwanthary), Sharib (Hashmi), Shahab (Ali) and Aritro (Banerjee). We have a WhatsApp group where we all are connected.