The Netflix original series Sacred Games has brought many young and talented actors into limelight. One character that has captured everyone’s attention other than the series’ protagonist Ganesh Gaitonde (played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui) is Bunty. Essayed by actor Jatin Sarna, the character was famously turned into a meme about surviving on Parle-G biscuits after a scene in the second season of the series that showed an impoverished Bunty surviving merely on biscuits and black tea.
For his part, Sarna recently won the award for most popular supporting actor in a web series at the 2019 MTV IWMBuzz Digital Awards. He is next set to essay the important part of cricketer Yashpal Sharma in Kabir Khan’s ’83. Also, he will be playing a small part in AR Murugadoss’ Tamil-language film Darbar starring Rajinikanth in the lead role.
In this interview, Sarna talks about the first and second seasons of Sacred Games, the controversies surrounding the series, his preparations for ’83 and the experiences of working with Kabir Khan and Ranveer Singh on the film.
How do you look back at the second season of Sacred Games as compared to the first?
The second season is very different. The first season is action-oriented. In order to set up something new and that too at such a big scale, you require certain ingredients to capture the attention of the audiences from the word go. The second season in comparison is deliberately paced. Now, the decades, ‘the 70s and the ‘80s, where most of the events from the first season are set were really happening from the point of view of our country also. So many things were happening in the country at the time, and it wasn’t clear in which direction we were headed. In comparison, the world we live in today is more about manipulation than action. It’s all about establishing one’s monopoly through religion. No one is really interested in water, national resources, or providing basic amenities to the people. The politicians are fully aware that people can be easily fooled in the name of religion which is really very sad, especially in a culturally rich country like ours.
The second season of Sacred Games is dedicated to making people aware of the true idea of India. When people tell me that they want to be like my character ‘Bunty’, I warn them that the character is merely a reminder how such elements are trying to destroy the communal harmony in the country. That such people cannot be our idols. I am proud of the fact that in both the seasons, we have tried to expose such elements that are trying to fool us in the name of religion. Hats off to Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane for having the courage to make a show like Sacred Games and to Vikram Chandra for writing the book in the first place!
During the first season, you got to shoot with both Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane. How was it like to shoot with Neeraj Ghaywan for the second season?
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to shoot with him. All my scenes in the second season were with Anurag Sir only. Actually, I was supposed to shoot one scene with Neeraj Ghaywan Sir also, but due to some reasons, it did not materialise. It’s a regret that I still have.
The second season of Sacred Games got engulfed in many controversies. As an integral part of the show’s principal cast, how do you see these controversies?
The things that we have shown in Sacred Games are actually happening in the country. Isn’t mob lynching a reality? So, the accusation that people are getting influenced by the show in a negative way is absolutely baseless. If these leaders are really concerned about the people who have elected them, then why don’t they focus on the real issues instead of using religion to manipulate? Today, the youth of the country is facing so many real issues, but the politicians aren’t interested in paying any heed to that. All they do is criticise creative people for showing reality. Here I am not talking about one faction in particular. There are such people everywhere who target artists as it’s an easy way to get media attention.
The second season of Sacred Games ends on an abrupt note. How does one interpret it? Will there be a third season?
Honestly speaking, I don’t really have any updates regarding the third season. My guess would be that Sartaj was able to save the city from the nuclear blast at the end of the second season. But that’s just my guess as I don’t have anything concrete to back it up. Now, Bunty had died in the first season itself, and in the second season, my character was only there in the flashback scenes. So, I don’t think that I will be a part of the third season if there is one at all.
How was it like to shoot in London for Kabir Khan’s ‘83? Also, tell us about your character.
The film is slated to release on April 10, 2020. It was a great experience working on the film. Winning the 1983 World Cup was a major historical event which brought India on the world map. There are so many important events associated with the win. For the film, we have shot in the actual stadiums where the matches took place such the Lord’s cricket ground, The Oval, Trent Bridge, which made it even more special. And the script is really wonderful. In terms of authenticity, it is definitely going to be one of the best movies on sports. The film also touches upon the individual struggles of the various cricketers who gave everything to win the World Cup for the country under the leadership of the legendary Kapil Dev. Even the real cricketers from the time have been closely involved in the project. We had 7-8 months of rigorous training before the actual shooting started.
I play the cricketer Yashpal Sharma in the film. He was an explosive middle-order batsman who played an important role in the win. In the very first match against West Indies, he had scored 89, which was truly special. India won the match, and he was the man of the match. Against England, in the semi-finals, he again top-scored with 61 during which he played some breathtaking strokes. He was a very good fielder and also effected a few crucial run-outs during the tournament. Also, every day when I used to step out of my hotel, I would meet 4-5 people who instantly recognised me. So, it was really a memorable experience for me, both personally as well as professionally.
Why kind of interactions did you have with Kabir Khan during the shoot?
I used to have regular discussions with him. He used to share his own personal experiences and struggles with me, like how he started out as a documentary filmmaker, his subsequent journey as India’s leading feature film director and how he dealt with stars in the most difficult circumstances. He has such a friendly personality, is a good soul and a true gentleman whom you can easily approach and discuss anything with. So, I had a great time shooting with him. I consider myself really fortunate that so early in my film career I am getting to work with some really good directors like Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, Abhishek Chaubey, and now Kabir Khan.
Ranveer Singh is essaying the part of Kapil Dev in the film. What was it like to work with him?
I had a great time with Ranveer. We would tease each other so much on the sets. The camaraderie was really great. He is a very nice guy. I really admire him as an actor. We need these kinds of stars who are ready to explore their characters and are willing to give others their space without any sense of insecurity. He was great in Gully Boy, but we also spoke about Siddhant Chaturvedi and Vijay Varma. Strong characters as such make movies memorable. Now, in ’83, he knows that he is playing Kapil Dev and so he would be the centre of attraction, but he never interferes in the work of others. I really respect him for that, and he also respects the other actors around him.
This article was first published in The Patriot.