He started theatre when he was 7 years old. People compare his looks with Leonardo Dicaprio but he is a pure Punjabi. This man spent all his salary from his bank’s job into his passion for theatre.
Yes, we are talking about Sandeep Anand and most of you know him by the name of Billu from India’s one of the most popular comedy show FIR.
Sandeep had an open talk with our team. We are presenting some of the highlights of our discussion.
Matpal: Sandeep tell us something about your background. How did you start acting?
Sandeep Anand: Well.. my birthplace is Jabalpur (MP). My family moved to Ujjain (MP) for my schooling and all in 1994. My elder sister used to take part in dramas and cultural activities. Once she was doing a play – “Rani Avantika” and they were looking for twin kids for the play. My sister suggested that her two younger brothers (Me and my younger brother) could do this. Though there was an age difference between my brother and me of around 2 years but we used to look almost similar. The drama team agreed on that and they selected us. That was my first play. It was the year of 1994 from there my journey started.
Matpal : How old were you at that time?
Sandeep Anand: I was around 7 year old.
Matpal: So, will it be appropriate to say that you are brought up around theatres only?
Sandeep Anand: Yes of course and also I was lucky enough to work with and learn from the teachers who have trained acting icons of our age like Mr NaseerUddin Shah, Mr Anupam Kher and Mr Irrfan Khan. Most of these trainers have either retired or not active now.
Matpal: Do you see any difference in theatre in now and then?
Sandeep Anand: These days’ theatres especially in the metros has become commercial only. It was not in the days when I was doing theatre. It requires a lot of patience and dedication. Today most of the youngsters want to see the results quickly.
Matpal: How did you choose theatre or acting as a career?
Sandeep Anand: When I finished my high school (10th grade) I had become an active theatre actor. I had worked with established theatre groups and participated in various international festivals. Though my theatre career was going good, I did not decide to opt it as a profession till then. I wanted to become a Doctor. But my family was not financially strong. So, when there was a time to decide – I could not opt science for my further studies. I had to opt commerce. Hence my dream of being doctor ended. From there I decided that I would not consider education as a priority for my career. Theatre was my hobby and I used to love that. Somebody told me that you should pursue your hobby as your career. I followed that.
Matpal: What was your parent’s reaction?
Sandeep Anand : After doing my graduation there was an obvious pressure on me. I am from a small town where theatre is not considered as a profession. My parents wanted me to settle in my life and find some job. Though I did my graduation because I wanted to take admission in National School of Drama (NSD). It was my bad luck that I could not get selected in NSD. I did two attempts but could not succeed. Though I could not understand it because the jury members of selection committee at NSD knew my passion for theatre as I had worked with them. However they assured to select me in my third attempt but I think the life was planning something else. I decided to visit my friends in Mumbai in November 2006 as my NSD exam was scheduled on May 2007 so I had some time there.
My friends were strugglers in the same profession (Acting and Theatre). They suggested me to go for auditions and all. Since I had nothing to do so I thought to try this. Meanwhile I got my first break and I stayed In Mumbai thereafter and left the Idea of joining NSD.
Matpal : How did you get your first break?
Sandeep Anand : As I told I was going to auditions in Mumbai. There was an audition going for a TV commercial. This advertisement was for “Alpenliebe” candy. I got selected among 2500 other candidates and got an opportunity to work with Kajol in this ad. Kajol was my favorite actress and this was thrilling for me. This ad was very popular and hence my journey started.
After that I got a TV show “Sun Yaar Chill Maar” on UTV Bindaas. My character was of a young male who is born and brought up in Canada. His family is recently moved to India. He wanted to be a rapper. This role was quite challenging for me since I had no knowledge about rap music. In fact I did not know the names of singers like Eminem, Akon and all. But I managed to convince the makers of the show that I could do this. The show proved to be a big hit. Initially channel decided just to create 10 episodes of this show but they ended up with 200 episodes.
Matpal: How did you get FIR?
Sandeep Anand: Sun Yaar Chill Maar was over and I was doing some pilot projects. Few of my co-actors from Sun Yaar Chill Maar were working with Shashank Bali, the director of FIR. During this time I met Shashank. He already knew me from the show “Sun Yaar Chill Maar”. He told me about FIR. Before that I had never seen this show. I found the show challenging since I had to do different characters every day.
Matpal: Who created Billu ?
Sandeep Anand: While I was doing cameos in FIR, I told my producers that I want to try something different. They conceptualized the character of Billu as one of the main cops in just 3 days. That’s how Billu started.
Matpal: What would you like to say about the standard of Comedy these days on TV Channels?
Sandeep Anand: In FIR we always try to create a line. We know it’s a family show and we have to maintain its reputation. I would say not only FIR but almost all the programs of SAB TV promotes the clean and family comedy.
Matpal: As FIR is a very popular show and your work is being appreciated a lot. Do you sometime feel pressure while performing?
Sandeep Anand: Well, I don’t take pressure of my work rather I enjoy it. Comedy is like walking on rope. You need to maintain balance and timing always. When a role is given to me, I study a lot on that and try to feel the character. This is my way of working since the beginning.
Matpal: What is your future plan?
Sandeep Anand: I am very selective and serious towards my work. I am looking into some of the projects but have not decided on anything yet. I always focus on improving my performance rather than working for stardom. I want to create a milestone in acting for new generations. These days FIR is going good, people love this character. You will soon see me in some Punjabi movies.
Matpal: Who is Sandeep Anand in real life? I mean your hobbies and your favorite pass time ?
Sandeep Anand: I am very filmy person (laugh). Whenever I get time I watch movies or read books. I am trained in Sufi music so I like to sing. I have a hobby of collecting musical instruments. I love travelling. Whenever I get time I pack my bags.
Matpal:Are there any similarities between Billu and Sandeep Anand ?
Sandeep Anand: We both don’t have girlfriends (laugh). Though Billu is desperate for having one and Sandeep Anand don’t have time for that because of his work and schedule.
Also like Billu – I have started forgetting things sometime (laugh) but not up to that level as Billu does.
Matpal: Thanks a lot Sandeep for your time.
Sandeep Anand: Thanks for calling me.
This interview is based on a conversation between our editorial team and Mr Sandeep Anand. You can mail your feedback to us on firstname.lastname@example.org