Oh yes. We made the film with complete passion, conviction and love. But at the end of the day, it is very difficult to gauge how people will react to your effort. Luckily for us, this film has hit home. They’ve welcomed the film with open arms. We are overwhelmed. We don’t know how to respond to this. Yes, the film has triggered off a kind of movement for justice towards the weak sections especially children who are assaulted.
When you were offered the film did you sense its importance or was it just another interesting part?
I can’t take the credit for the film’s success. We always thought we had a good story to tell and we all wanted to be part of it. Children’s safety has always occupied my mind as an actor. Even when I was doing theatre in my early days as an actor, I worked closely with several NGOs for children. We wanted to make a significant film on child abuse. But we never thought it would become a revolution not only in India but for the diaspora outside. I am getting calls and messages from within and outside India. It is overwhelming.
People are saying you have an alternative career as a lawyer waiting for you. Did you prepare to play this part?
(Laughs) Yes, I know. I am getting tweets from people asking to take up their cases. That is hilarious. I am requesting them not to hire me. They are certainly going to lose their cases (laughs). Vipin Sharma who plays the public prosecutor offered to take up one of the cases offered to me. I’m telling you, it is hilarious! The response and love for my character of the lawyer Solanki is overwhelming. After 30 years of acting I still get moved when a performance is praised. But after so many years one can’t be jumping with enthusiasm.
Did you meet Solanki, the real-life lawyer whom you portray in the film? As an actor what do you feel about this common man’s uncommon heroism?
Actually I decided at the start not to meet Mr Solanki. The producers had the rights to his book. I felt it wouldn’t be right to copy or imitate him. It would completely defeat the purpose of the endeavour. I had to create my own character based on all the research of the team. I also used my own imagination to create the character.
So you didn’t meet the real Solanki at all?
I met the real Solanki only two days before the shooting. Then I saw some things in his character that I tried to inculcate into my character at the last minute. In totality you may see many facets of the real Mr Solanki in me. But I tried not to make it obvious. The idea of a courageous lawyer and good human being had to come across. When you do a real character like I did in Aligarh and now Sirf Ek Bandaa… people don’t know them. So I have to show them the ideology of the person without mimicking him.
Do you like playing real heroes?
I love the idea of portraying common people, the ordinary heroes who are battling everyday, if not in the courtroom then outside. They have so much to battle every hour. There is still a smile on their faces. At times they stumble and fall. But they just get up and continue their struggle. Their resilience is what I love about them. And that’s what inspires me as an actor to keep moving. They don’t stop. Neither do I. These are superheroes without capes.