Iranian actor Sajjad Delafrooz on his Bollywood adventure
A life-saving doctor, a ruthless terrorist, in the short while since he entered Bollywood, actor Sajjad Delafrooz has garnered quite a fan following. He was first noticed for his cameo as a doctor in the Akshay Kumar-starrer Baby, but it was his role as terrorist Abu Usman in Tiger Zinda Hai that really got the crowds going.
Although Bollywood was the dream, at 34, Sajjad, was considered a late entrant to the world of acting, deciding in 2011, to quit his job as a PR manager and get in front of a camera.
Born in a small village near Shiraz in Iran, Sajjad says he had to work hard to make his mark in Bollywood.
More from Sajjad…
★ What made you want to become an actor?
I decided to become an actor because I wanted to do something fun but just after I got into acting I began to realise this is my destiny. Cinema is the world in which I want to stay.
★ What kind of roles do you prefer?
I prefer to play characters which challenge me… even if I need to add change to my look and voice.
★ Who is your favourite actor?
I watched lot of films and it’s hard to choose one favourite actor. I enjoy seeing art of so many actors, but as a kid I have grown up watching movies of Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan, Iranian actor Behrooz Vosoughi, and my American all-time favourite Al Pacino and Marlon Brando.
★ Have you worked in any Persian films?
I have worked with Iranian filmmakers who live outside Iran but have never had a chance to work with filmmakers inside the country.
★ Do you wish to return to Iran?
I am based in Mumbai and Iran is my country. I will definitely go there and I would love to work in Iranian cinema. We have clever filmmakers and storytellers.
★ You are referred to as a “diverse” actor and you have demonstrated this in your multi-lingual films. How and where did you pick up the languages?
My love for languages started years ago when I wanted to know more about people and different cultures. This always gives me a beautiful feeling of connecting with different people from different parts of the world. When I started my acting career the languages gave me chance to portray a wide variety of character. Before I face the camera I spend lot of time researching the character and that makes me understand more about human beings, cultures, beliefs, and society, and how all of them influence decisions. At the end knowing more about other people helps me to know more about myself.
★ What character was most challenging for you?
There are couple of characters into which I had to put a lot of energy. My role as terrorist Abu Usman definitely tops that list. I played a character of an Iranian man who tries to escape illegally on a boat to Australia. It was challenging because I had to understand the pain of so many people who lose their lives in a desperate attempt to find a better place to live.
★ Tell us about your experience with Indian actor Salman Khan in Tiger Zinda Hai.
Every day with Salman Khan is a memory to treasure. I remember in Abu Dhabi we were shooting in 52 degrees, it was really hot and there was tension. Whenever Salman came on the sets, he would crack a joke and it changed the mood. He makes it so easy to work with him.
★ What do you love about acting?
Learning. It’s like going to school every day and enjoying the lessons.
★ What do you hate about this acting?
It keeps me away from my family.
★ What’s your favourite line of dialogue?
“Tiger Zinda Hai (the tiger is alive). Prepare for the war”. Even while we were shooting I wasn’t comfortable saying that line.
★ If not an actor, what would you have been?
A chef. I love food and I am a good cook, at least that’s what my friends say.
★ What is the hardest part of being a celebrity?
The day I become one, I will answer that.
★ A tip you’ve received that held you in good stead.
It was from Salman. He showed me how important it is to keep fit because it makes you feel better and perform better too as an actor.