After Percy Jackson, son of Greek god Poseidon, another ‘half-blood’ is called upon to save mankind, set in contemporary Mumbai, this is a mythological fantasy authored by model and actor Olivier Sanjay Lafont, and introduces to audiences Saam the watch-mender, the only demigod son of Lord Shiva. Often referred to as ‘Price tag’ or Suhas from the 2009-comedy 3 Idiots in which he played actor Kareena Kapoor’s fiancé, Lafont talks about his debut novel ‘Warrior’, his love for acting and writing and much more in a candid conversation with City Express.
One might not immediately place his name, but with over 80 TV commercials under his belt, Lafont is a known face both on and off the silver screen. In fact, the role in 3 Idiots came to him after the casting director saw him in an ad. “The film 3 Idiots really did some amazing things for me,” says Lafont who moved from France to India at the age of seven when his historian father Dr Jean-Marie Lafont came here to continue his research.
In ‘Warrior’, Lafont’s protagonist Saam comes from a broken family, and the story recounts the courage of a young man who has to go up against his father, all to save mankind. “I remembered what impacted me about the Mahabharata were these intense dramas of feuding families, cousins who had grown up together and were now waging war. I wanted to write an epic story, that’show Saam’s story came about. Before this was a novel, it was a screenplay. I wanted to make an Indian film that would be on the same scale and have special effects as some of the big Hollywood blockbusters, but with an Indian storyline,” he says.
Sharing his experience from the time he was filming for 3 Idiots, he talks about how much he’s learnt on the sets. “In terms of vibes, it continues to be one of the most productive sets I have worked on; everyone really gave their best to the film. Rajkumar Hirani (director) allowed me to shape the character I was playing, which was really great,” he says. Besides 3 Idiots, Lafont is also known for his role in the critically-acclaimed Sanjay Leela Bhansali production Guzaarish. “I always knew I wanted to be an actor,” says Lafont, who was a theatre and English literature major at Colgate University, US, and was part of many theatre productions before Bollywood happened.
“I am essentially a storyteller, and both writing and acting are just means to tell a story. That’s why being an actor, author, screenplay writer, model and a voice-over artiste comes together quite naturally to me,” shares Lafont, who is also the scriptwriter for Hari Om, a film by Bharat Bala which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2004. ‘Waiting in the wings’ is another screenplay that Lafont has written.
“It was originally meant to be an Indian comedy. But now that it is done, it might work better as an English film; I’m waiting for a producer to pick it up,” he says. In the meantime, check out ‘Warrior’, a story where it rains universal themes like father-son clashes, besides blood, lizards and frogs.