Cinema is believed to be a reflection of the society besides entertaining the masses. The rise of realistic cinema for over the last decade has strengthened this viewpoint. And actors such as Shreyas Talpade have established this genre as a sustainable medium. Known for his iconic roles in Nagesh Kukunoor movies such as Iqbal and Dor, Shreyas is has gone on to explore his comic sides in movies such as Apna Sapna Money Money, Golmaal Returns and Great Grand Masti.
Next, the 43-year-old will be seen in the upcoming film, Setters - a real-life story on the cheating racket of competitive exams in India. Shreyas will play the role of a mastermind behind an examination and admissions racket nexus. While a similar film, Cheat India, on the same subject starring Emraan Hashmi released earlier this year, Shreyas remains undeterred, “It is based on Indian education, the employment mafia and essentially their modus operandi. I play the setter (the setting guy) who leaks the papers, making proxies, sits in exams and conducts various other modes of cheating. It is such a heavy subject that one can make many films on this topic,” he says.
This will be the first time Shreyas will be seen as a character with a grey shade. On his role, the Shreyas says, “Apurva is an extremely educated guy. He is also very practical and is completely updated with the latest technological gadgets and apps. It’s just that he has decided to use his intelligence and education for all the wrong reasons rather than doing the right thing. My character is extremely determined about what he’s doing. He knows what the pros and cons of this business are. But for some reason, he has come to believe that this is the only way to survive and earn a lot of money. He thinks that everything has got a price tag attached to it, so one has to pay the amount and get their work done.”
Directed by Ashwini Chaudhary, Setters also features Aftab Shivdasani, Ishita Dutta, Vijay Raaz among several other actors. Talking about the education racket that happens in India, Shreyas says, “I didn’t know that paper leaking and setting is such a huge industry in itself, where the annual turnover is approximately more than Rs 5,000 crore. I had no clue that there is a whole network of mafia that operates this scam.” He goes on to add, “When I heard about the nexus for the first time, I was completely blown by the story and the concept.
I think our job essentially [as actors] is to have three things in mind—one is to give entertainment to the audience, second is to create awareness about a particular idea or concept and third is to raise questions in the viewers’ mind. It is for people to decide what route and what action they want to take after watching a film based on a real-life issue.” The actor also firmly believes that the audience is becoming increasingly receptive toward new-age cinema and prefers real stories compared to the song and dance sequences. “The audience definitely wants to relate to the concept rather than watch something imaginary,” he explains.
Shreyas is all praises for his co-star and veteran actor Pavan Malhotra and says, “He’s one fabulous actor and I personally feel he has not really got his due yet. His understanding of a particular scene, the story and the pitch at which the scene needs to be performed is immense. You end up learning a lot of things while you shoot with him and while you just observe him doing his craft so well.”
Shreyas, who is known for doing serious roles, and has won several accolades for these performances in the past, says that his character in Setters has been one of the most challenging roles he has done so far. “In terms of the mindset, this has been a tough role. I feel it is because I’ve been doing Bollywood comedies lately and people have seen me more in the comic roles, although I started my career with films such as Iqbal and Welcome to Sajjanpur. I feel that I need to remind people about the fact that I can do serious films as well. In that respect, Setters is a really important film in my career.”