Suzanne Bernert has portrayed Sonia Gandhi in The Accidental Prime Minister. The German-born actress tells Giridhar Jha how did she get into the skin of her character in the movie? Excerpts:
What kind of feedback are you getting for your role in the film?
I am only being praised. People don’t believe that it is not her (Sonia). They are all convinced about my character.
What did you do to prepare for the role? Was there any special brief from the filmmakers?
I am a director’s actor. I was given a docket replete with videos, footage and pictures. So I did not jump into the internet and start searching for all the materials on her. Instead, I kept watching her videos on and on. But there is no personal video of hers in the public domain. So you don’t know what the person is like in real life. I, therefore, took some liberties.
Were you apprehensive about playing such a high-profile politician?
We are the first to have made such a movie. When a poster of this film was uploaded by Anupam Kher on Twitter last year, somebody sent it to me, thinking I would be perfect for the role. Actually, I had played Sonia Gandhi in a TV show called 7RCR earlier, aired before the 2014 parliamentary polls. So, I went on to bombard the casting agency with emails and faxes because I wanted to portray this character.
From Berlin to Mumbai, how did you land in Bollywood?
I did an acting course in Berlin for three years before coming to india. I am here since 2005, when I was first offered a television show called Astitva Ek Prem Kahani. Later, in Kasautii Zindagii Kay, I became the first person to have played a foreign bahu on Indian TV.
Bollywood offered limited scope for overseas actresses. They’re often stereotyped. Do you think you have better opportunities now?
Definitely. I have been doing diverse things here: an ad opposite Aamir Khan, a Marathi blockbuster, a celebrity show, besides doing Bengali films, including one by Aparna Sen.